If you live in Southern California, you’re familiar with the struggles of lawn care.
Not only are you subject to the occasional drought, but you’re also prone to intense heat during the summer months and freezing temperatures during the winter months.
These weather conditions can make maintaining even the toughest grass varieties difficult. Fortunately, there are plenty of drought tolerant grasses for California ready to take on whatever nature throws at them. If you want to see how drought-tolerant your lawn is, simply perform this simple test to find out!
How is The Weather in Southern California?
If you live in Southern California, you’re probably used to dealing with less-than-average rainfall and very few water restrictions.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t get hot—which means your lawn needs to be treated as such. Most southern Californians prefer their lawns to look lush and green.
However, most are still under watering restrictions and don’t have access to an unlimited water supply. If you’re trying to figure out which types of grass will thrive under these circumstances, keep reading!
What is Drought Tolerant Grass?
A drought-tolerant lawn can survive and thrive without a significant amount of water. This can be hard to find because most grass varieties need at least 1 inch of water per week to grow well.
The best time to plant these varieties is in fall, when you won’t have to worry about being drowned by summertime watering or too much rain in winter and spring.
Here are some of our favorite drought tolerant grass for southern California–
8 Best Drought Tolerant Grass For Southern California
1. Dwarf Bermuda
Dwarf Bermuda is one of my favorite choices for a lawn. It can grow almost anywhere and does especially well in hot, dry climates.
And it’s even salt-tolerant (meaning you won’t have to water as much after winter storms), so you can plant your new lawn next to your sidewalk or driveway!
I should point out that Bermuda is a warm-season grass; we will be transitioning it from fall to spring by covering it with mulch and removing it in March before new growth begins.
This works great since there are very few seeds in Bermuda in early spring.
Also, note that Bermuda may not work for you if you live north of Los Angeles County due to its sensitivity to cold temperatures.
2. Creeping Bentgrass
While certainly not one of the most attractive or popular options, creeping Bentgrass is a very effective option. The beauty of creeping Bentgrass is that you’ll never have to mow it.
If left untrimmed, creeping Bentgrass will eventually form a thin mat that prevents weeds from growing in your lawn.
As long as you aren’t looking for lush foliage and thick turf carpeting, creeping Bentgrass might be exactly what you need.
More than anything else, creeping Bentgrass proves that cost and convenience are just as important as looks when it comes to choosing an ornamental turfgrass.
Creeping Bentgrass has small green leaves on arching stems that don’t grow higher than an inch or two tall.
3. Scutch Grass
Scutchgrass is a great alternative to turf. It’s easy-care, high density, low maintenance grass that needs less water and fertilization.
This drought-tolerant plant can survive in hot and dry conditions because fibrous roots absorb more moisture than other plant species.
Scutch Grass leaves are also different from most turf; they are short and fine, meaning they are much less likely to get damaged by wear and tear.
It also has natural defense mechanisms against pests, so you don’t have to worry about bugs eating it out of existence!
Because of its compact size and slow growth, scutch grass is a great alternative to playing fields or dog parks, where larger dogs tend to run wild during playtime!
Typically, lawn grass is Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) or fescue (Festuca spp.) that requires up to 30 inches of water per year.
That said, there are varieties of turfgrass that will grow well with less watering, particularly in Southern California’s Mediterranean climate and warm summers.
The key: a thick root system that can draw water from deeper soil sources-something most species do not possess naturally.
5. Couch Grass
Couchgrass is known to survive several months without water. It can thrive in a wide range of conditions, although it prefers sandy, well-drained, and acidic soil.
This turf type grows best in USDA zones 3 through 9 and doesn’t require much fertilizer or maintenance.
Despite its drought tolerance, couch grass isn’t typically used in lawns because it tends to clump together into tufts and is relatively susceptible to disease.
Also known as downy Bentgrass, couch grass was first used by Native Americans as a natural form of napalm during the war against their enemies because its burning touch was so painful.
6. Tall Fescues
A great lawn grass that is super adaptable to heat and cold, tall fescue will thrive in most places with adequate water.
It also holds its color well, making it an excellent choice if you’re looking for a green lawn all year round.
The only real drawback to tall fescue is its low tolerance for foot traffic, so use caution if you have young children or pets running around.
Fescue does best when installed over a soil-enriching mulch such as wood chips or bark dust.
You may not know that fescue is a term used to describe many different cool-season turfgrass species, all of which are excellent choices if you want to make your lawn drought resistant.
As part of its water conservation strategy, fescue actually becomes dormant during hot weather and sheds most of its leaves. Because it typically only needs about one inch of water per week, fescue grass is one of the best turfgrass options for regions with little rainfall.
Common varieties include chewings fescue (Festuca rubra commutata), hard fescue (Festuca longifolia), and creeping red Fescues (Festuca Rubra).
One drawback: some varieties can spread by rhizomes and become invasive. If you’re looking for a great, low-maintenance turfgrass in southern California, look no further than tall fescue. One of the most popular lawn types, tall fescue, is a fine-bladed turfgrass that can handle foot traffic, frequent mowing, and traffic.
It is also a very shade-tolerant plant that is easy to establish. Unlike many other drought-tolerant grasses, tall fescue isn’t considered invasive or competitive. Because it doesn’t send its rhizomes below ground like Bermuda or St. Augustine does.
7. Hybrid Bentgrass
The first thing to know about hybrid Bentgrass is that it’s not true bluegrass, despite being called Bentgrass.
True bluegrasses are what we commonly call Poaceae (the scientific name of all grasses).
Hybrid Bentgrass is actually Agrostis, a non-Poaceae species. Geneticists bred it to combine two different types of Agrostis (Agrostis stolonifera and Agrostis tenuis) into one hardy lawn grass.
While it has some Poaceae characteristics, such as its tendency to spread via rhizomes (underground stems). Its overall appearance and growth habits more closely resemble those of Agrostis.
This makes hybrid Bentgrass an excellent choice for low-maintenance areas like putting greens, tees, fairways, or roughs in golf courses.
8. Perennial Ryegrass
Ryegrass is known as a perennial, which means it lasts longer than other lawn grasses, including fescue.
If you live in a hot climate, ryegrass has an advantage because of its shade tolerance. It also has a strong winter color, so it’s a good choice if you don’t want to mow your lawn in cold weather.
Plus, ryegrass is tall and narrow enough to grow well between sprinkler heads and obstructions such as fences and trees.
Overall, ryegrass makes an excellent choice for home lawns across much of southern California.
How To Grow Grass in Southern California?
It’s been a little bit of a crazy few years in southern California. As you may know, southern CA has been experiencing an ongoing drought that shows no signs of letting up any time soon.
And with water being such a precious resource, it’s important to find ways to cut down on your water usage as much as possible.
If you want to keep your lawn looking its best without breaking your bank account in doing so, here are some tips and tricks on how to grow grass in southern California.
1. Choose a hardy variety of grass:
The first step to keeping your lawn looking its best is choosing a hardy variety of grass.
If you’re in southern CA, you’ll want to choose a type of warm-season turfgrass that can withstand heat and dry conditions.
Some good choices include Bermuda, Centipede, and Zoysia.
2. Prepare the land:
It’s important to prepare your lawn before planting your new grass. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll want to remove any vegetation and level out your lawn area.
You can do so by using a power rake or rototiller. This will allow for better drainage and ensure that water equally reaches all of your plants.
3. Planting season:
Once you have prepared your soil, it’s time to plant! You can plant from late fall through early spring if you live in southern CA.
Ensure that your new plants are watered well and get plenty of sunlight. If possible, try to use a sprinkler system that waters at night when temperatures are cooler.
This will help reduce evaporation and ensure that your plants receive all of their water.
4. Maintain regular watering:
Even if you live in an area with ample rainfall, it’s important to maintain regular watering. This will help keep your lawn healthy and looking its best.
If possible, try to water your lawn in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler.
This will help reduce evaporation and ensure that your plants receive all of their water.
5. Weed control:
Weeds can quickly overtake a lawn if they aren’t kept under control.
To help prevent weeds from taking over your yard, it’s important to keep your lawn well-maintained.
This means keeping an eye out for weeds and pulling them out as soon as you see them.
You should also make sure that you have a thick layer of mulch around your plants to help suppress weed growth.
6. Fertilize regularly:
It’s important to fertilize regularly in order to ensure that your plants are getting all of their nutrients.
It would be best if you also considered using a slow-release fertilizer so that you don’t have to worry about over-fertilizing your lawn.
If possible, try not to fertilize during times of high heat or drought, as it can increase evaporation and cause salt buildup in your soil.
7. Don’t forget about watering:
Even if you live in an area with ample rainfall, it’s important to maintain regular watering throughout the year.
This list of ten great grasses will help you find a quick and effective solution for your garden.
They are not difficult to maintain, ensuring you have time to enjoy your garden rather than constantly maintain it.
A little investment in these kinds of plants will give you a new outlook on landscaping and get some great results from both aesthetic and environmental standpoints.
These types of hardy plants will give you many years of lovely greenery, helping you out in an ever-changing environment.