Luckily for Georgia homeowners, peaches aren’t the only plant that grows well in the sweltering summers and mild winters of the Southern state: Georgia’s climate is perfect for keeping a lush, healthy lawn throughout the year.

The key is planting the correct grass for the climate and sun exposure your lawn receives. By choosing a grass suited to these conditions, you’ll avoid problems down the line.

Cool Season vs. Warm Season Grasses

map of warm season grasses and cool season grasses

For the most part, turf grasses are classified as either cool season or warm season grasses, and where you live determines your lawn type. On the map, the region colored in blue suits cool season grasses, orange suits warm season grasses, and the green states in between perform best with a mix of both.

With average temperatures ranging from low 30s in winter and mid 90s in summer, the Atlanta area lies on the edge of the transitional zone, meaning both warm and cool season grasses are used. Warm season varieties are most common, however, as they are more resistant to drought and heat.

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Warm season grasses:

  • Should be planted from late spring through early summer
  • Grow during the summer and go dormant during winter
  • Are drought tolerant
  • Tend to have thicker, coarser blades
  • Are generally mowed at a shorter height

Cool season grasses:

  • Should be planted from late summer through early fall
  • Grow throughout the spring and fall and go dormant in the summer
  • Are cold tolerant
  • Tend to have longer, thinner blades
  • Are generally mowed at a taller height

In north and middle Georgia, cool season grasses can be used to overseed a warm season lawn, which helps maintain an attractive lawn through the colder months. For the sake of uniformity, however, cool season grasses should only be mixed with fine- to medium-textured warm season grasses.

Common Types of Lawn Grass in Georgia

Bermuda grass
A dark green, dense grass with fine to medium blades, Bermuda is the most popular warm season turf grass among Georgia homeowners. Bermuda grass holds up well to heavy foot traffic, making it ideal for families with young children and pets.
  • Type: Warm season grass
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to very light shade
Centipede grass
Centipede is a medium textured, low maintenance grass. Because it grows slowly, Centipede grass requires less frequent mowing than other grasses, though it likewise takes longer to mature and fill in a yard after seeding. With a poor tolerance for foot traffic, it will show wear in places that receive heavy use.
  • Type: Warm season grass
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to very light shade
Zoysia Grass
Zoysia is available in several varieties, with textures ranging from fine to coarse. Generally a dense, slow-growing grass, Zoysia requires periodic dethatching to look its best, but does not need to be mowed as often as other warm season grasses. It’s tolerant of foot traffic as well as high salt levels, meaning it can be planted on the coast.
  • Type: Warm season grass
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to very light shade
St. Augustine Grass
A coarse, broad-leafed grass, St. Augustine has a lower cold tolerance than other warm season grasses and is not often found as far north as Atlanta. It performs best in moist soil, making it ideal for areas along the South Georgia coast, and fares well in lawns that receive partial shade.
  • Type: Warm season grass
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Tall Fescue
Finely textured and fast-growing, Tall Fescue matures quickly after seeding and requires frequent mowing. As a cool season grass, Tall Fescue requires more water during the summer than warm season grasses, or it will go dormant. Resilient in drought and fluctuating temperatures, it also tolerates shade better than most grasses.
  • Type: Cool season grass
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade

Light Levels for a Healthy Lawn

All grasses need sunlight to thrive, but some tolerate shade better than others. Before you plant, determine the light level of your yard:

  • Full sun: Eight hours of unfiltered sunlight per day
  • Very light shade: Six hours of unfiltered sunlight per day
  • Light shade: Six hours of sunlight filtered through sparse, scattered foliage
  • Partial shade: Four hours of direct sunlight or eight hours of sunlight filtered through sparse, scattered foliage
  • Shade: Three hours of direct sunlight or all-day sunlight filtered through moderate foliage
  • Dense shade: No direct sunlight reaches the ground

The best grass for shade depends on location. In north and middle Georgia, tall fescue is the best grass for partially shaded lawns. For a lawn in south Georgia or along the coast, St. Augustine is also resilient in partial shade.

Of course, no grass grows well in shade or dense shade. Plant turf grass in the sunniest parts of your yard, and landscape with mulch or pine straw around trees and shrubbery.

Georgia Lawn Care

lawn mower on green grass

No matter where you live, basic lawn care comes down to three elements: mowing, watering, and feeding. As simple as it sounds, there’s a right and wrong way to approach all three.

Mowing

Mowing height depends on grass type, and mowing at the correct height is just as important for a healthy lawn as fertilizing. Refer to the recommended mowing height for lawn grasses in Georgia, and keep your blade sharp; a dull blade shreds grass rather than cutting it, causing the tops of the grass to turn brown.

Watering

Grass needs about one inch of water per week to thrive. Water your lawn in the morning once a week so it has a chance to dry between soakings. Because a sodden root system increases the possibility of disease, avoid overwatering or watering at night when the soil dries more slowly, and always check the soil before watering. If it’s already damp, there’s no need to irrigate.

Feeding

Ideal nutrient levels vary slightly between grass types, but in general, using any plant food product at the right time of year is all that’s necessary to keep a fertile lawn. Bermuda, centipede, zoysia, and St. Augustine should be fertilized in April and June. Unlike the warm season grasses, tall fescue should be fertilized once in September and again in November.

Lawn Care Companies in Georgia

A lot of work goes into planting and maintaining turf grass. Beyond basic mowing, watering, and fertilizing, some lawns require regular dethatching, aerating, and weed or pest treatments to look their best.

If you don’t have the time for extra yard work but want to improve the health and appearance of your lawn, contact a local lawn care company. Best Pick landscaping and lawn treatment professionals are experts on regional grasses, and many offer maintenance programs catered to your lawn’s needs.

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