What’s the best grass for southern California ?
Southern California owns incidental and pleasing weather, especially the winters. Overall, it represents a dry region. However, it symbolizes a considerable variation between inland and coastal regions. The coastal region generally publicizes for possessing the most enjoyable weather. Its narrow but long strip exhibits day time average July temperatures about 75°F at Santa Monica and 84°F at Los Angeles. This strip experiences occasional heat spells in summer but, the weather is usually pleasant. Winter temperature variations observe 60-70 °F.
Overall, the coastal climate represents Mediterranean weather. The inland section holds mild winters during the day and the nights are more freezing than the coastal region climate. Summer can be excruciatingly hot as the July day temperatures may rise to 91 °F in Rancho Cucamonga, 108 °F in Palm Springs, and Coachella Valley in Colorado desert areas. Precipitation and fog generally observe between the mid of November and continues throughout the March. Sunshine is a dominant feature of Southern California throughout the year.
The southern region falls between zones 5a-11a. Planting zones represent a wide variation in flora and fauna for their diverse climates and topographic locations. Several types of grasses are adaptable to the Southern California climate; we will discuss the best grass for Southern California along with its salient features shortly.
Based on varying growing seasons and temperature, Southern California is divided into 7 different climatic zones;
ZONE-1: Hilltops and Valleys (Inland SoCal)
The growing season starts here in the middle of March and continues until late November. It receives rains in winter, whereas Summer is dry and hot. Temperature varies between 10 °F to 28 °F in Winter. Mediterranean plants thrive in this region.
ZONE-2: Thermal Belts
The growing season continues from March to November. Rains experienced in winter, whereas summer is hot and dry. Temperature ranges between 22-27 °F. Evergreen plants may survive throughout the year under medium shading.
ZONE-3: Oceanic-influence (Inland SoCal)
The growing season observes from late March to late November. Temperature variates between 23-28 °F in winter, making it ideal for growing year-round.
ZONE-4: Oceanic-influence (Interior Valleys)
The growing season continues from Early March to early December. Winter rains keep the temperature between 23-36 °F.
ZONE-5: Colder Coastal Region
Growing activities continue from March to early December. It perceives rain in winter, whereas summer is warm. Winter experiences a steady temperature of about 28 °F. overall climate is oceanic and humid.
ZONE-6: Thermal Belts (Coastal Region)
Growing plants continues throughout the year. Frost is negligible and the winter temperature never falls below 23 °F.
ZONE-7: Southern Coast
Planting activities continue throughout the year. Occasional freezing, short winter season, and cool summer are prominent climatic features.
Best grass for Southern California
Here is a brief description of grasses best adaptable to the Southern California climate and it includes both warm and cool-season kinds of grass:
- Bermuda Grass (Cynodon dactylon)
- St. Augustine Grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum)
- Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis)
- Tall Fescue (Festuca arundinacea)
1. Bermuda Grass:
It grows well in the warm regions of SoCal. Highly adaptable to high temperature & drought. It turns brown at low temperatures. It needs little watering and a moderate dose of nitrogen. Hybrid varieties are more water and nutrients lovers. It is also highly tolerant of salinity. It plants from both rhizome and stolon. Bermuda is highly durable grass that can withstand heavy usage until early autumn since It grows actively during this period. Weeds often invade Bermuda grass during dormancy. Hybrids grow more vigorously and need more fertilization and watering.
2. St. Augustine Grass:
This warm-season turf grass is drought tolerant. It grows speedily in summers and paces down in winters. The nitrogen requirement is high, while poorly tolerating to cold. Thatch is a common problem anyhow it is salt tolerant. For its creeping growth feature, it propagates from stolon and shoots originate from every node and forms St. Augustine grass has a creeping growth habit and is propagated by stolon that form shoots at every node. It forms impenetrable thick layer on the surface and don’t allow weeds to germinate.
3. Kentucky Grass:
A cool-season grass that is adaptable to grow in spring, winters, and fall while its growth dominates during the fall, winters, and spring months when temperatures are cold. Its growth slackens during the summer. It performs poorly in the areas with warm climates. Kentucky bluegrass is highly susceptible to pests, diseases, and weed infestation under high temperatures. It produces very thick turf. To keep it performing through the year, the gardeners often mix it with perennial ryegrass. Two or three varieties from both Kentucky and Ryegrass contribute 85% and 15% to make it an ideal mixture for consistent performance.
4. Tall Fescue:
It is a cool-season variety that loves the hot and semi-shady environment. Its dense sowing creates resistance against diseases and weeds. Tall fescue grows throughout the year but can’t withstand chilling winters. Despite it’s resistance to cold conditions, not suitable for higher altitudes. Two new strains are available for sowing in Southern California climates. i.e., Tall and Dwarf turf. The strains are short stature with finer texture. Tall Fescue is the best planting variety in most of the Californian lawns.
Warm-season grasses flourish in temperatures between 80 to 95°F for their maximum water-use efficiency which, saves them during drought.
Cool-season grasses prefer growing between 60 to 75°F. They tolerate drought but love to thrive in proper watering conditions. They possess deep roots that establish quickly but can’t survive prolonged heat.
Tips on Soil and Water Testing:
Before proceeding with any gardening endeavor especially planting turf grasses, focus on testing the soil and irrigation water pH, and do repeat after every three years to see the status of nutrients available for your turfgrass.
For cool-season grass, the soil must represent its pH range between 6.0 to 7.2. Otherwise, the majority of turf grasses thrive in slightly acidic to neutral soils with pH ranging between 5.8 to 7.0. similarly, irrigation water pH range between 6.0 to 7.0 is best wanted for both cool-season and warm-season kinds of grass. Don’t forget to check out the best organic fertilizers while you are at it.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.