California Grass Types

Looking for the optimal grass varieties for lawns in California? Below is a comparison table and accompanying data that will give you information about what grasses are best suited for California and its inner counties.

Note: Cold, heat, drought, and saturation tolerance are measured on a score of 0-5 with 0 being the least tolerant and 5 being the most.

Zoysia Grass

Most suitable grass (on average)

Kikuyu Grass

Great for areas with heavy rainfall

Bermuda Grass

Ideal for drought-prone areas

Buffalo Grass

Optimal for colder areas

Bahia Grass

Optimal for hotter areas

Annual Ryegrass

Best suited for shaded areas

Lawn Visual
Seasonal Type Warm Warm Warm Warm Warm Cool
Cold Tolerance 2.5 1.5 1.0 3.5 1.5 4.0
Heat Tolerance 4.0 4.5 5.0 4.0 4.5 2.0
Drought Tolerance 3.5 4.5 4.5 5.0 5.0 2.5
Saturation Tolerance 2.0 2.5 1.0 2.0 3.5 4.0
USDA Zone(s) 6-13 6-13 8-13 5-9 4-13 1-7
Sun Exposure Full Sun, Partial Shade Full Sun, Light Shade Full Sun, Light Shade Full Sun, Deep Shade Full Sun, Light Shade Mostly Sun, Deep Shade
Traffic
Resistance/Recovery
Moderate, Moderate High, Moderate High, Rapid Low, Slow Moderate, Moderate Moderate, Rapid
Watering
Duration/Amount
Weekly, 1 inch Weekly, 1-1.25 inches Weekly, 1-1.25 inches Bi-weekly, 0.5 inches Bi-weekly, 0.5-0.75 inches Weekly, 1-1.5 inches
Mowing
Duration/Height
Every 7-10 days, 0.5-1.5 inches Every 7 days, 1-1.5 inches Every 5-7 days, 0.5-1.5 inches Every 10-14 days, 2-3 inches Every 7-14 days, 2.5-4 inches Every 5-7 days, 1.5-2.5 inches
Soil Well-drained, Loamy
pH: 6.0-7.0
Well-drained
pH: 5.5-7.0
Sandy, Well-drained
pH: 5.8-7.0
Well-drained, Loamy to Sandy
pH: 6.0-7.5
Acidic, Sandy
pH: 5.5-6.5
Adaptable
pH: 5.5-7.5
Texture Fine to Medium Medium to Coarse Fine to Medium Fine Coarse Fine
Color Light Green Dark Green Dark Green Blue-Green Light Green Bright Green

California Zones

The interactive map below shows the USDA plant hardiness zones specific to California. Each zone in the map represents a certain temperature range that is critical for plant survival and growth, divided based on the average annual minimum winter temperature. Click on the map to see the optimial grass types for each county.

Zone No. 6 7 8 9 10
Map Color
Lowest Avg. Winter Temperature -10° to 0°F 0° to 10°F 10° to 20°F 20° to 30°F 30° to 40°F

The chart and table below shows the average monthly precipitation and minimum/maximum temperatures in California over the last 5 years.

Month Min Temp (°F) Max Temp (°F) Prep (in)
Jan36.48 °F56.46 °F2.94"
Feb34.68 °F58.02 °F2.2"
Mar38.16 °F60.68 °F3.03"
Apr44.34 °F70.06 °F1.47"
May49.32 °F75.92 °F0.95"
Jun57.36 °F86.62 °F0.18"
Jul63.16 °F92.46 °F0.15"
Aug62.88 °F92.1 °F0.15"
Sep57.64 °F86.2 °F0.38"
Oct48.06 °F75.22 °F0.95"
Nov39.64 °F63.44 °F1.71"
Dec35.14 °F53.4 °F4.34"

The chart below shows the optimal months for seeding or sodding new grass in California. Suitability for each month is based on the average monthly temperature in California.

May, June, September and October are the most optimal months for planting cool-season grasses in California.

June and July are the most optimal months for planting warm-season grasses in California.

Grass Types by County in California

Below is a list of counties in California. Click on any county to get a more detailed analysis.

Data source and citation

Raw data for the grass characteristics was sourced from the USDA's PLANTS Database.

Data for climate zones in California was gathered from the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map as well as GIS datasets from the Oregon State University PRISM Climate Group.

Average monthly temperatures and precipitation data for California was sourced from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental information.

Please use the citation tool below to reference any information found on this page.

  • "California Grass Types". LawnVariety.com. Accessed on July 20, 2024. https://lawnvariety.com/california.

  • "California Grass Types". LawnVariety.com, https://lawnvariety.com/california. Accessed July 20, 2024

  • California Grass Types. LawnVariety.com. Retrieved from https://lawnvariety.com/california.