Types of Lawn Grasses for Warm Climates
Warm Weather Grass
In areas where temperatures are warm, some types of grasses grow favorably. Having the ability to thrive in the heat of summer and climate of the warmer regions, warm season grasses have a different lawn maintenance routine than those of the cool season grasses.
In the heat of summer, the zoysia is excellent, but its growing season in the north is fairly short. It starts to go off color no later than October, and it won't start to turn green up until sometime in May. Some individuals get around this problem by spraying the browned grass with a dye and it works reasonably well. Kentucky bluegrass, if you can pull it through the summer in good shape, is typically green until after Christmas, and picks up again in March.
The overly publicized zoysias (Zoysia japonica and Z. matrella) form a good sod in midsummer, is tolerant of summer traffic, low fertility, heat, and drought. They also demand less mowing. Disadvantages of zoysias are that they become an unsightly brown from autumn until midspring, are not resistant to traffic and weed invasion while it is dormant, and they must for all practical purposes be started out from plugs or sprigs of sod. Zoysia has endured all the way up to Minnesota, but not all zoysias are consistently hardy in northern winters. The Meyer strain of zoysia is quite tough to kill, even by cold winters.
Zoysia spreads through runners that grow both above and below ground. These runners can dip a foot or so down in good soil to get under obstacles, and spring up on the other side. Due to this, it is difficult to do away with once it is established so don't plant it unless you want to tolerate its disadvantages.
U3 Bermuda grass, a southern grass, has similar advantages and disadvantages of zoysia, with lack of winter hardiness a special hazard.
Korean Lespedeza is a fine-leaved legume utilized as a temporary cover. Used with bluegrass and others as a "nurse" crop, it shades the seedlings of a mixture until they can be established. It won't stand frost.
Bahia is a southern grass that has a coarse appearance. It roots quite deep and takes foot traffic well, and forms tough seedheads which are difficult to mow.
Centipedegrass has a fine texture but is coarser than Bermuda and most zoysias. It has trailing stolons and is great for poor soils, needing minimum maintenance where it grows. Not hardy.
Buffalo grass brings out a grayish-green turf, shows up as straw color in drought or cold weather. It is used where rainfall is inadequate, especially in arid areas like western Texas.
Carpet grass produces a coarse-leaved, loose sod, and is used mainly on acid, sandy, boggy soils where better species have a hard time. Not hardy.