Growing grass in Atlanta, Georgia, is more complex than plant it, fertilize it and water it. In this part of Southeast, our humid climate and mild winters can support both warm-season and cool-season grasses. But the thing is, neither turf type will thrive 100% of the year.
So, what’s the best type of grass for your Georgia lawn? Is cool-season or warm-season turf better?
Each offers benefits, and there’s no right answer. That’s why it’s best is to understand the difference between warm-season and cool-season grasses, and what to expect if you plant either of these turf types on your Atlanta property. That way, you can select a grass that fits most of your requirements.
Sunlight is a key factor when determining the best turf for your Georgia lawn. That’s because sunlight impacts soil moisture and heat exposure. These variables (along with air temperature) promote turf growth, or cause challenges. Recognizing that most lawns have areas of shade and sun, the advice of a lawn care professional is helpful.
Take a close look at your property’s “microclimate”—beyond sun exposure, consider soil type, and even the grade of the land. (Slopes impact sun exposure and the soil moisture content.) Warm-season grasses tend to thrive better in full-sun, dryer areas while cool-season grasses perform well when temperatures dip and there’s more moisture. Both warm- and cool-season grasses can thrive with an appropriate lawn care program and cultural practices.
About warm-season grass: Warm-season grasses are slow to establish the first year, when turf establishes deep roots. Warm-season grasses are planted in late spring, and they thrive during the hot summer months with full sunlight. Many warm-season grasses go dormant and turn brown once soil temperatures drop to about 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Common warm-season grasses: Bermudagrass, Zoysia grass and Centipede grass are commonly used in the Southeast. By far, the most popular warm-season grass in Atlanta is Bermuda grass because of its drought-tolerance. It can handle our climate’s hot, humid conditions. It produces a thick, green lawn—and it stays green until the temperatures drop below 40 degrees. That gives property owners more “green time” than other warm-season grasses like St. Augustine.
Choose warm-season grass: We recommend warm-season grasses for most commercial properties in Atlanta, but it’s important to understand that these grasses do go dormant when the temperatures drop. To maintain some green year-round, overseeding with warm-season ryegrass in early fall is an option. (This is also the ideal time for poa annua prevention.)
About cool-season grass: Cool-season grasses germinate and establish quickly. Cool-season grasses grow in fall, winter and spring—those seasons with cooler temperatures and plenty of precipitation. In summer when the temperatures heat up, the turf tends to die back.
Common cool-season grasses: Cool-season turf includes varieties such as tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass. Fescue is the most common cool-season turf type in the Atlanta area; while ryegrass is often used for overseeding warm-season grasses in fall.
Choose cool-season grass: For commercial properties that are heavily shaded, we recommend cool-season grass because it performs better in cooler, wetter environments. That said, there could be periods of die out, in which case the lawn is more susceptible to weeds and disease. We always recommend a poa annua preventive application so during that slow time of cool-season grass growth, fast-growing weeds don’t move in.
With turf in Atlanta, you can’t have it green all the time. That said, you can achieve a healthy lawn and some green most of the year by selecting the appropriate turf type for your property. Warm-season grasses will go dormant in the winter; and cool-season grasses will brown out when the temperatures heat up. So, during what time of year is it most important for your lawn to be at its green best?
Talk to an experienced commercial landscape provider about what your priorities are for the lawn. Contact us any time at 678.298.0550, or fill out this simple contact form and we’ll get in touch with you.