Iowa Grass Types

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

Annual Ryegrass

Most suitable grass (on average)

Kentucky Bluegrass

Ideal for drought-prone areas

Fine Fescue

3rd most suitable (on average)

Perennial Ryegrass

4th most suitable (on average)


5th most suitable (on average)

Bahia Grass

Great for areas with heavy rainfall

Buffalo Grass

Best suited for shaded areas

Lawn Visual
Seasonal Type Cool Cool Cool Cool Cool Warm Warm
Cold Tolerance 4.0 4.0 5.0 4.5 4.5 1.5 3.5
Heat Tolerance 2.0 2.5 2.0 2.0 1.5 4.5 4.0
Drought Tolerance 2.5 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 5.0 5.0
Saturation Tolerance 4.0 3.0 3.5 3.5 4.0 3.5 2.0
USDA Zone(s) 1-7 1-7 1-5 1-5 1-5 4-13 5-9
Sun Exposure Mostly Sun, Deep Shade Mostly Sun, Partial Shade Partial Sun, Full Shade Mostly Sun, Partial Shade Mostly Sun, Deep Shade Full Sun, Light Shade Full Sun, Deep Shade
Moderate, Rapid Moderate, Moderate Low, Slow Moderate, Rapid Low, Moderate Moderate, Moderate Low, Slow
Weekly, 1-1.5 inches Weekly, 1-1.5 inches Weekly, 1 inch Weekly, 1-1.5 inches 2-3 times weekly, 0.25 inches per watering Bi-weekly, 0.5-0.75 inches Bi-weekly, 0.5 inches
Every 5-7 days, 1.5-2.5 inches Every 5-7 days, 2.5-3.5 inches Every 7-10 days, 1.5-3 inches Every 5-7 days, 1.5-2.5 inches Every 3-5 days (or less), 0.25-1 inches Every 7-14 days, 2.5-4 inches Every 10-14 days, 2-3 inches
Soil Adaptable
pH: 5.5-7.5
Well-drained, Loamy
pH: 6.0-7.0
Well-drained, Loamy
pH: 5.5-7.0
pH: 5.5-7.5
Well-drained, Loamy
pH: 5.5-6.5
Acidic, Sandy
pH: 5.5-6.5
Well-drained, Loamy to Sandy
pH: 6.0-7.5
Texture Fine Fine to Medium Fine Fine Fine Coarse Fine
Color Bright Green Rich Green Dark Green Bright Green Light Green Light Green Blue-Green

Iowa Zones

The interactive map below shows the USDA plant hardiness zones specific to Iowa. 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. 4 5
Map Color
Lowest Avg. Winter Temperature -30° to -20°F -20° to -10°F

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

Month Min Temp (°F) Max Temp (°F) Prep (in)
Jan10.98 °F28.36 °F1.15"
Feb9.34 °F28.48 °F1.08"
Mar27.74 °F46.64 °F2.56"
Apr34.12 °F57.22 °F2.19"
May49.78 °F70.82 °F4.98"
Jun61.08 °F83.1 °F4.66"
Jul63.74 °F84.7 °F3.39"
Aug60.54 °F82.72 °F3.87"
Sep54.28 °F76.82 °F4.42"
Oct38.38 °F60.48 °F3.45"
Nov26.3 °F45.96 °F1.68"
Dec18.7 °F36.32 °F1.42"

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

May, June, July, August and September are the most optimal months for planting cool-season grasses in Iowa.

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

Grass Types by County in Iowa

Below is a list of counties in Iowa. 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 Iowa 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 Iowa was sourced from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental information.

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

  • "Iowa Grass Types". Accessed on July 19, 2024.

  • "Iowa Grass Types"., Accessed July 19, 2024

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