You want a good-looking lawn year-round, and the best way to achieve this is to lay sods that are best suited for the arid Arizona environment. There are a number of drought-resistant, luxurious grass varieties, and like anything, each has its pros and cons; one of the challenges homeowners face is the staggering number of varieties of certain types of grasses. Weeding through masses of information can be downright frustrating, so we’ve done the research for you about the best grass varieties for Arizona lawns.
The first thing to understand when choosing a grass variety is sod groups. There are two sod groups: Warm Season and Cool Season. These groups are dependent on the time of year you are installing your lawn. Warm Season sods include zoysia, St. Augustine varieties, and Bermuda grasses. Cool season grasses include tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, and Kentucky bluegrass. The majority of Warm Season grasses do not produce seed, so must be installed by sprigging, plugging, or laying sod. If you wish to seed start your lawn or overseed an existing warm season sod, choose a cool season grass variety.
Top Grass Choices
The best and most widely planted grasses in Arizona are Bermuda grasses. Adapted to high sunlight and air temperatures, salty, shallow soils, and heavy traffic, Bermuda grasses are excellent for low-lying desert areas. There are several popular Bermuda grass varieties that are commercially sold; Bermuda grasses also perform well in the higher elevations (3,500 – 4,800 feet). Bermuda grasses are not shade tolerant. For areas that receive constant shade or experience summer temperatures below 80º Fahrenheit, we recommend St. Augustine grass varieties.
Midiron is a great all-purpose grass. A bright green, low-maintenance turf with a medium to dense growth habit, Midiron is the most popular turf grass in Arizona. In the winter Midiron enters a dormant state, so in desert valley areas such as Tucson, Yuma, and Phoenix, it is often overseeded with perennial ryegrass in late summer/early fall to create a lush lawn year-round. Midiron can be mowed with a rotary mower and is happy with heights ranging between 1.5 to two inches, though it can withstand cropping as short as ½ an inch with a reel mower.
Tifway and Tifway II
These varieties have a finer blade and deeper color than Midiron, and can tolerate a low mowing height, which is best achieved with a reel mower. Often used on sports fields and golf courses, the Tifway varieties are also excellent for home lawns. Tifway is a fast-growing grass, requiring two to three mowings per week to look its best; it is tolerant of heights up to 2.5 inches. Though Tifway requires more frequent mowing, it is highly desirable, as it can be mowed with a rotary mower and taller grass heights require less frequent watering.
Palmetto St. Augustine
A semi-dwarf St. Augustine variety, Palmetto is excellent for both shady and sunny areas and is the most heat-tolerant of all the St. Augustine cultivars. Palmetto has a coarse texture and a broad blade; it is best mowed with a rotary mower and does well with heights up to 2.5 inches.