Picking a drought-resistant type of grass is one of the best decisions you can make to ensure that you have a green, lush lawn all year round.

The best drought-resistant grasses are Zoysia, Bermuda grass, and Buffalo. Here are some other all-star grasses that stand out on your lawn even during prolonged droughts:

  • St Augustine Grass
  • Bahia grass
  • Dune Sedge
  • Fescue Grass
  • Dwarf Wooly Yarrow
  • Blue Grama
  • Custom Yard Meadow

Grasses on your Southern California lawn should be able to handle full sun and drought conditions. These types of lawns will require less frequent watering, which can help reduce your water bill and maintain the green color throughout the summer.

Botanical Name: Zoysia japonica
USDA Growing Zone: 6–11
Color: Light to medium green
Mow height: 1.5 – 2.5 inches
Cost: Sod costs $0.5 per square foot
Root depth: 2 feet
Mowing frequency: 5 – 7 days
Temperature tolerance: 80° F

Zoysia grass is the perfect grass to start with if you’re in Southern California because it is the most heat-tolerant of all grass species. It will do remarkably well in fun sun and dry conditions.

Strengths

During its active growing season, Zoysia typically stays light to medium green. It turns brown when winter dormancy sets in, but it stays green much longer than other warm-season grasses.

One of the Zoysia species, Pennington Zenith Zoysia keeps its green color longer than ordinary Zoysia grasses do. Some homeowners choose to overseed Zoysia lawns in fall with cool-season ryegrass for green winter color, but others appreciate its straw-like natural hue. Come spring, Zoysia lawns are among the first warm-season lawns to green up again.

Zoysia naturally develops a deep root system, and it’s very efficient at conserving moisture and resisting drought. During short drought episodes, the grass remains green.

Weaknesses

Zoysia grass establishes more slowly than some lawn grasses, but it forms a very dense carpet of grass beneath your feet. Few lawn weeds penetrate established Zoysia lawns.

The grass spreads by above-ground stems called stolons and underground stems called rhizomes. This thick, dense growth earns favor among warm-climate sod producers and families that use their lawns heavily for lawn games and entertaining.

Zoysia grass has a very slow growth, which is why it thrives in such intense sun, but that means it cannot take a lot of traffic. It is not ideal grass for a soccer field or even for a backyard where you expect to be entertaining every weekend. If you have pets or kids, Zoysia grass may not be able to handle them either.

Lawngrass Zoysia Grass

Bermuda Grass

Botanical name: Cynodon dactylon
USDA Growing Zone: 7–10
Color: Dark green
Mow height: 1 to 2 inches
Cost: $0.30 to $0.85 per square foot
Root depth: 6 feet
Mowing frequency: 5 to 7 days
Temperature tolerance: 110° F

Bermuda grass has short flat leaves, usually 10 to 40 cm (4 to 16 inches) tall. The spikelets are borne in four or five slender spikes at the tips of the upright stems. Extensively creeping stolons and rhizomes (aboveground and underground horizontal stems) enable the plant to establish a dense turf.

Strengths

Bermuda grasses perform well in drought and full sun. Unlike some other grasses on this list, there’s a Bermuda variety well-suited to your soil, no matter what kind of soil it is. Some will perform best with regular fertilizer; others actually prefer poor soil. Plus, many Bermuda grass varieties can handle a ton of foot traffic without dying out, which makes them very useful for those who love to use their green spaces.

Weaknesses

Some varieties of Bermuda grass require frequent fertilization to perform excellently on your lawn. Generally, it does not tolerate shade, and this is why it falls on this list of drought-tolerant grasses.

Bermuda Grass (1)