If you live in the Carolinas and you’re looking to install grass at a new home or you’re ready to upgrade your yard, it’s important that you pick the right grass variety. North and South Carolina home lawns encounter a lot of fluctuating temperatures during the active growing season. With harsh, hot temperatures that reach the 90s in the South, and frigid, cold temperatures that’ll drop to 10 degrees in North Carolina, selecting a turfgrass that truly thrives in these climates can become challenging. Check out the top four grass selections we recommend for these conditions below.
The Best Zoysia Grass for the Carolinas
When it comes to zoysia grass selections, there is quite an assortment to choose from. Some of the most popular zoysia varieties in the Carolinas include EMPIRE®, InnovationTM, Zorro, Zeon®, El Toro and Emerald. However, to get the best bang for your buck, EMPIRE and Innovation are the best zoysias for homes located in North and South Carolina.
EMPIRE Zoysia has a wider blade look for those who don’t prefer the really fine grass blades. This dark green turfgrass is easy to take care of and continues to maintain great color throughout most of the active growing season. EMPIRE has a very dense canopy—more dense than that of Palmetto St. Augustine’s—which strongly competes against weeds. EMPIRE is also a chinch bug resistant variety, which is a pest that a lot of homeowners in the South experience.
You will need to mow every 7–10 days during the active growing season at a height of 1–2 inches. EMPIRE also allows the water supply to be shut off in severe periods of drought without permanently harming the turfgrass. EMPIRE’s natural dormancy mechanism allows it to go off color and preserve itself in times of drought, but its color will come right back once a regular irrigation schedule has been resumed again.
In comparison to EMPIRE’s thicker grass blades, Innovation Zoysia has a really fine leaf texture. Its dark green color combined with its fine blades make for a gorgeous, aesthetically appealing look that really stands out in a neighborhood. Innovation is also highly cold tolerant, allowing it to grow up into the transition zone and the colder areas of North Carolina without dying off. Innovation Zoysia can withstand extreme hot and cool temperatures, which is a rare feature for a zoysiagrass. This grass is known to do well in areas heavily shaded by trees and buildings for most of the day.
The Best St. Augustine Grass for the Carolinas
Are you trying to steer away from zoysiagrasses and prefer the thicker blade width of a St. Augustine? Palmetto® St. Augustine presents a dense grass canopy with thick grass blades that really choke out weeds. This grass is another top performer for North and South Carolina as it demonstrates excellent cold, heat, drought and shade tolerance. There’s a reason homeowners love Palmetto—it is the most sold patented turfgrass variety in the world with over one billion sq. ft. sold.
As a semi-dwarf St. Augustine, meaning it is naturally shorter in height, you will need to do less mowing with Palmetto than with other St. Augustine varieties. Palmetto adapts well to a wide range of climates and temperatures due to its cold tolerance.
The Best Bermudagrass for the Carolinas
If you’re a homeowner who really loves the professional, elite look that bermudagrass features, Celebration® Bermudagrass is the best option for your North or South Carolina home lawn. This grass has been installed on sports fields and golf courses around the world—so why not bring it home? It has finished best in numerous university studies for its wear tolerance and recovery, drought tolerance and bermudagrass shade tolerance.
Celebration performs in hot climates found in South Carolina and will thrive up into the most northern parts of North Carolina. With a blade width of 1.7 mm, Celebration’s texture is finer than that of Innovation Zoysia and its deep blue-green color makes it extremely popular for home applications.
It is important to know all of your options so that you can make the best, informed choice when installing a new turfgrass variety at home. Oftentimes, the best turfgrass all depends on what you are looking for and what the lawn’s environment presents.
The above turfgrass selections demonstrates some of the top-performing cultivars for North and South Carolina, but if you are looking for a low maintenance variety, be sure to read The Best Grass for Low Maintenance in the Carolinas. If your home lawn experiences a lot of shade, on the other hand, be sure to check out The Best Grass for Shade in the Carolinas.