The Best Grass to Plant in Charlotte, NC
Lawn Care Tips for the Queen City
As you drive down Queens Road West, you’ll see epic homes, mature trees, lots of shade and beautifully manicured lawns. The grass is like a lush, deep-green carpet! This drive will likely inspire you to improve the look of your own lawn. If this is the case, you’ll want to know the best grass to plant in Charlotte. There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s get started!
What to Plant in Charlotte
Cool-Season Grass Vs. Warm-Season Grass
With so many species of grass that do well in Charlotte, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with information. So let’s break it down. First, Charlotte is well suited for both cool-season and warm-season grass. So let’s start by exploring the differences between these two categories of grass.
Cool-season grasses include Tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, Fine fescues, Perennial ryegrass and Annual ryegrass. Cool-season grasses grow in the spring and fall and are less active in the summer. In addition, they maintain most of their green color throughout the winter.
Planting – For best results, you should seed cool-season grasses in the early fall. You can also seed in early spring (as late as the end of March). However, seeding in the winter is not recommended.
Warm-season grasses that do well in Charlotte include Bermudagrass, carpetgrass, centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass and zoysiagrass. Warm-season grasses go dormant and turn brown after the year’s first frost. They begin turning green again in the spring and grow in the summer.
Planting – For best results, you should plant warm-season grasses in the late spring and early summer. Depending on the species you choose, you may have to use sod as seeds may not be available or will result in a lawn that is not uniform.
Tall fescue is a cool-season, bunch-type grass and is the best choice for Charlotteans who want green grass all year long. You can easily start tall fescue from seed. However, when planting in heavily shaded areas, consider mixing tall fescue with Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue or both. Using multiple cultivars will broaden the genetic base and increases your lawn’s ability to withstand various conditions.
Tall fescue is year-round green grass with medium color and a medium-coarse texture.
It is recommended to keep tall fescue mowed to a height of 3 to 3.5 inches, with 2.5 inches being the lowest you should go. It is best to irrigate tall fescue during times of drought if possible. When seeding, use a seeding rate of 6 lbs per 1,000 square feet. Don’t overseed. Overseeding can lead to thin, weak grass that’s susceptible to disease and high-temperature stress. If you have bare and damaged areas, they are easily repaired by re-seeding.
Tolerance Rating Tall fescue
Tall fescue’s tolerance to high and low temperatures makes it an excellent choice for homeowners in Charlotte. This grass thrives in the sun and medium shade areas. It stands up well against disease, cold temperatures, high temperatures, wear and drought.
Kentucky Bluegrass/Tall Fescue Mix
Kentucky bluegrass by itself has a fine to medium texture and will produce a high-quality lawn. However, if you plan to use Kentucky bluegrass in Charlotte, you should combine it with tall fescue. Adding tall fescue will improve your lawn’s ability to tolerate heat and drought. In addition, mixing Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue will result in your grass having a finer texture and better recuperative potential.
Kentucky bluegrass mixed with tall fescue produces a medium-dark color and a medium-coarse texture.
It is recommended to keep Kentucky bluegrass mowed to a height of 1.5 to 2.5 inches. However, when Kentucky bluegrass is mixed with tall fescue, it should be mowed to 2.5-3.5 inches. Kentucky bluegrass can withstand a 2-4 week summer drought and does not require irrigation. Use a seeding rate of 1-2 lbs per 1,000 square feet, and take care not to overseed your lawn. This can lead to thin, weak grass susceptible to disease and high-temperature stress.
Tolerance Rating Kentucky bluegrass/tall fescue mix
Kentucky bluegrass/tall fescue mix has good tolerance to shade and high temperatures. In addition, its ability to stand up against cold weather, drought and moderate levels of wear make it a prime candidate for Charlotte homeowners.
Fine Fescue/Kentucky Bluegrass/Tall Fescue Mix
Fine fescue gets its name from its fine-textured leaves, which can be as thin as pine needles. Hard fescues, chewings and creeping red are part of the fine fescues family. When used for lawns in Charlotte, it is typically added to Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue or both and used in areas with shade or that require low maintenance.
The mixture of fine fescue, Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue will produce a lawn that has a medium-dark color with a medium-coarse texture.
If mixing fine fescue with Kentucky bluegrass, keep it mowed to a height of 1.5 to 2.5 inches. However, if you mix it with tall fescue, you should keep it mowed to a minimum of 2.5 inches. When seeding, remember that fine fescue is a bunch type and cannot spread. This means you’ll have to mix it with Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue or both. When mixed with Kentucky bluegrass or tall fescue, use 2-3 lbs of seed per 1,000 sq ft.
Tolerance Rating Fine fescue/Kentucky bluegrass/tall fescue mix
Fine fescue has good tolerance to drought, shade and poor soil conditions. However, fine fescue should not be used in areas with excessively high temperatures, high soil moisture or heavy traffic.
Bermudagrass is a warm-season grass that is highly drought, heat and wear resistant. It grows quickly on just about any type of soil. However, Bermudagrass is not ideal for homeowners who want green grass all year. This grass will go dormant and turn brown in the winter. Its green color will begin to return in the spring.
Bermudagrass (common) has a medium color and medium texture. Whereas bermudagrass (hybrid) can have a light to dark color, the texture can be from fine to medium. Bermudagrass will go dormant and turn brown after the year’s first frost.
Bermudagrass should be mowed to a height of 0.75-1 inch or using the lowest setting on your lawnmower. To achieve the best results, mow bermudagrass often. Common bermudagrass and newer cultivars can be seeded to achieve a medium to coarse texture. When seeding bermudagrass, use 1-2 lbs per 1,000 sq ft. If you are going for a finely textured, high-quality turf-type bermudagrass, you’ll want to use sod, plugs or sprigs.
Tolerance Rating Bermudagrass
Bermudagrass has excellent tolerance to heat, drought and wear. However, when it comes to shade and cold temperatures, it doesn’t do as well and is not the best option.
Zoysiagrass is another warm-season grass that grows well in Charlotte. It is very dense and wear tolerant. It grows best in areas with full sun and light shade. Zoysiagrass’ stiff leaves produce a lawn that feels like walking on a cushion.
Zoysiagrass is very dense; it has a medium to dark color and a fine to medium texture.
Zoysiagrass is a slower-growing grass and requires less frequent mowing. However, mowing zoysiagrass can be difficult due to its stiff leaves. When mowing zoysiagrass, you should mow to a height of 0.75-2 inches. Due to its high tolerance to drought, zoysiagrass typically doesn’t require irrigation.
Tolerance Rating Zoysiagrass
Zoysiagrass has excellent tolerance to drought. It also does very well regarding its ability to stand up against heavy wear. In addition, zoysiagrass performs well in areas with light shade and cold and hot temperatures.
Centipedegrass is slow-growing, warm-season grass with coarse leaves. It does best in acidic soil and full sun or partial shade. It is a low-maintenance grass best used as a general-purpose turf. Centipedegrass can take up to 3-years to establish when seeded.
Centipedegrass has a light color and coarse texture.
Centipedegrass should be mowed to a height of 1 inch; it should not exceed 2 inches. Once established, centipedegrass requires 0.5-1 lb of nitrogen per 1,000 sq ft per year. To prevent centipedegrass from becoming thatchy, don’t over-fertilize.
Tolerance Rating Centipedegrass
Centipedegrass has good tolerance to heat, drought and shade. However, performs poorly in colder temperatures and very poorly in high-traffic areas.
St. Augustinegrass is a fast-growing warm-season grass with a medium to dark green color and coarse texture. Unfortunately, it has a low tolerance to cold weather, so it may not be the best option for use in Charlotte.
St. Augustinegrass has a medium to dark color and coarse texture.
St. Augustine requires frequent mowing. It should be mowed to a height of 2.5 to 4 inches. For fertilizing, use no more than 4 lbs of nitrogen per 1,000 sq ft per year. Overfertilization and irrigation can result in thatch buildup.
Tolerance Rating St. Augustinggrass
St. Augustinggrass is tolerant to heat, cold and drought. However, it does poorly in cold temperatures and very poorly in areas with high traffic.