BY SHANNON HATHAWAY – “The right plant in the right place” is a very common saying in gardening circles. Some plants like the sun, and some like shade. Some are hardy, some are delicate. Some are drought-tolerant, and some are not. Some prefer sandy soil, some can handle clay, and most prefer nutritious soil. Types of grass vary because landscapes come in a range of conditions. So let’s examine the range of conditions found here in central North Carolina.

Full Sun

Most warm-season grasses (grasses that go dormant in the winter) love the sun! Bermuda, Zoysia, and Centipede are great choices for hot, sunny yards. Fescue is not. Fescue will suffer in full sun.

Partly Sunny

If your yard receives sun for a part, but not all of the day, you first need to determine how many hours of direct sun the lawn receives in mid-Summer. There are some good apps out there to help you, like Lumos and Suntracker AR.  All grasses require some sun, so it is important to know which are more shade tolerant than others, but no grass likes full shade. If your lawn area receives 6 or more hours of direct sun per day, then Bermuda, Zoysia, and Centipede will work best. If it receives 4-6 hours of sun, then Zeon Zoysia is the best choice. If it receives 3-4 hours of sun, then Fescue is your best option. Less than 3 hours of direct sun per day is not enough to grow grass.

Mixed Sun Conditions

Maybe your front yard gets full sun but your backyard is more shaded. As long as the back gets 4+ hours of sun, and you want to have the same grass in the back and front, then Zeon Zoysia is the way to go! Another option would be to have one grass in front and another in the back. Using Zenith Zoysia in the front sunny portion and Zeon Zoysia in the back would be more budget-friendly, and both grasses would follow the same maintenance schedule. Just make sure to blow out your mower before moving from one grass variety to another to avoid cross-contamination. 

Caution: Installing warm-season grass in the front and Fescue in the back (or vice versa) will be a challenge. The mowing height is different, the chemical maintenance schedule is very different, and cross-contamination is likely, no matter how careful you are.

Sandy Soils

Warm season grasses do well in sandy soils when compost is added for nutrition – particularly Bermuda and Centipede. Sandy soils drain too quickly to keep Fescue happy, and Zoysias will need more watering in sandy soils.

Clay Soils

Clay soils are heavy and dense, and tend to be low in nutrition. Amending and loosening clay soils are critical steps. Once the soil is amended, you can plant any sod variety, but you MUST keep sun conditions in mind when choosing your sod.

Heavy Traffic

How is your lawn used each day? If the traffic is light, then you really only need to consider the sun and soil conditions. But if you have lots of activity from dogs, children, sports, etc., then Bermudas and Zoysias are better choices. If your lawn receives 6 or more hours of direct sun per day, then TifTuf Bermuda is the best option. It is the most traffic-tolerant, drought-tolerant, fastest-recovering sod on the market. It recovers quickly because it grows quickly, so frequent mowing (every 4-5 days) is ideal.

Mowing Frequency

Grasses grow at different rates so they have different mowing requirements.

  • Fescue every 7 days
  • Zoysia every 7-10 days
  • Bermuda every 4-5 days
  • Centipede every 10-14 days

Peak Sodding's Choosing The Right Grass for Your Yard Grass Comparison Chart

Peak Sodding’s Choosing The Right Grass for Your Yard Grass Comparison Chart


Need Personalized Advice?

If you are still unsure what grass is best for you, and you are looking for someone to install it for you, please give us a call.

Ben Schneider, the owner of Peak Sodding, will come out and advise you on the best sod for your landscape, and provide you with an estimate for installation, simply fill out a form and we will gladly answer any questions you may have.