Growing Region 101: Why It Matters for Your Lawn

growing region

Want a lush lawn? Plant the right grass type for your growing region. Image: Westend61/Getty Images

If you ever cruise Pinterest or home design sites (and we’re guessing you do), you’ve probably fawned over a gorgeous lawn or two. And that can be sort of a bummer if your own grassy area is looking a little lackluster. Worried you don’t have a green thumb? Are you just cursed? Actually, it turns out that you might be trying to grow the wrong type of grass for your growing region.

growing region

Tall fescue grows best in the northern half of the country. Image: Billy Lau/Getty Images

What is a growing region?

A growing region is an area where certain types of plants are likely to thrive based on the climate. Some people group the continental U.S. into just a few distinct growing regions, while the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map has over two dozen distinct zones. The latter divides each region based on a 10 degree Fahrenheit difference in annual average winter temperature.

Fortunately, there are a number of different turfgrasses that can thrive in a fairly wide temperature window. You probably don’t need to drill down to those specific zone details to get a gorgeous lawn. Instead, understanding a few things about the general growing regions across the U.S. can help you choose the right grass for your lawn.

It’s easiest to think of the country as divided into three distinct growing regions: warm-season, cool-season, and transition.

Cool-season growing region

The largest growing region, the cool-season region includes the northern half of the country. Split California in half and extend that dividing line across the southern border of the following states. Everything north of the line gives you a pretty clear idea of this growing region. The states that fall in this region include:

  • Nevada
  • Utah
  • Colorado
  • Nebraska
  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey

Transition growing region

That state border trick is mostly accurate, but the southern half of California, the southern tip of Nevada, and the southeastern corner of Colorado are all generally considered to fall in the transition region. Other transition region areas include most of Arizona, most of New Mexico, the northern half of Texas, and the following states:

  • Oklahoma
  • Kansas
  • Arkansas
  • Missouri
  • Tennessee
  • Kentucky
  • West Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • North Carolina

Warm-season growing region

Everything else is considered warm-season. That includes:

  • The southernmost parts of Arizona and New Mexico
  • The southern half of Texas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • Florida
growing region - bermuda

Image: pyzata/Getty Images

The best grass types for each growing region

Now that you know your region, it’s a whole lot easier to pick the right type of grass to thrive in your lawn. Certain grass types thrive in generally warm to hot weather, while others like a cooler winter. Knowing which type will work in your specific part of the country can save you a lot of headache.

Here’s a brief overview of some of the grass types that might work well in your region.

Cool-season grasses

  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Red fescue
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Tall fescue
  • Buffalo grass

Transitional grasses

  • Tall fescue
  • Bermudagrass
  • Zoysia grass
  • Buffalo grass

Warm-season grasses

  • Bermudagrass
  • Zoysia grass
  • Centipede grass
  • St. Augustine grass
  • Buffalo grass

This is a quick overview to guide you in the right direction, but make sure you talk with a local lawn care expert about what grows best in your region based on your local moisture levels and other factors. A lawn is an investment and you don’t want to find yourself struggling to grow the wrong turf type down the road.

This is especially true if you live in the transitional region. A blend of warm-season and cool-season grasses may be best for your lawn and its varied climate, so talk to a lawn care professional to find out what works in your area. Want help finding the perfect turf for your growing region — and beautifully maintaining it? Get in touch with a lawn care expert in your area to schedule a professional lawn analysis of your yard today.

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