4 Best Drought-Tolerant, Low-Maintenance Grass Varieties

A manicured green lawn of a golf course

Creating a lush, vibrant lawn starts with finding the right grass variety that not only endures but flourishes in your specific climate conditions.

The warm, subtropical climate in Florida and the broader Southern region often brings about drought throughout the year. The high temperatures and lack of rain, exacerbated by water restrictions, pose a health risk to your grass, potentially leading to its demise.

Drought and dry spells may bring the image of barren landscapes and dead grass to mind. However, this doesn’t have to be the case when you choose low-maintenance grass that is drought-tolerant for your lawn.

What is a Drought-Tolerant Grass?

Let's get this straight: you can't expect your lawn to remain lush and green all year round. It's simply impossible, no matter how drought-tolerant your grass is supposed to be.

Drought tolerance in grass doesn't guarantee a prolonged green appearance without rain. Instead, it means your grass can endure extended periods of drought by entering a dormant state. This physiological process protects the grass against heat and dry spells, wherein the grass completely stops growing and turns brown. But, once water becomes available, it should resume growth and return to its vibrant state.

Drought Tolerance vs. Drought Resistance

Although drought tolerance and drought resistance are terms often used interchangeably, they convey distinct meanings. Whereas drought-tolerant grasses can endure periods of drought by becoming dormant, drought-resistant grasses have better water retention, which enables them to continue growing during dry spells without entering dormancy.

Healthy, vibrant lawn thriving in front of a beautiful home

4 Best Drought-Tolerant Grass Types for Your Lawn

Drought-tolerant grass varieties share common attributes such as deep root systems and low water requirements, which prove ideal for a water-efficient and low-maintenance lawn. These characteristics make more sense in regions prone to drought and where frequent watering isn't an option due to water shortages, and conservation is imperative.

If you're looking to buy grass plugs in Florida, we have listed the best grass types for a drought-tolerant lawn.

Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass is the most drought-resistant warm-season grass, owing to its deep root system that ensures access to water even in dry periods. It can survive even on 1-1.25 inches of water to stay green. Notably, hybrid Bermuda grass varieties, like BIMINI® Bermuda grass, are particularly bred for greater drought and cold tolerance.

This warm-season grass variety also has excellent heat tolerance, making it well-suited for warm, sub-tropical regions with prolonged hot and humid summers and mild, wet winters. It thrives in slightly acidic soil but will also tolerate higher alkalinity.

Beyond its drought resistance, Bermuda grass boasts low-maintenance properties and can endure heavy foot traffic. This resilience makes it the preferred turf grass in various settings, including golf courses and other sports fields.

Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass is another warm-weather perennial grass native to Asia. Although it prefers high humidity, it exhibits excellent drought tolerance and resistance against heat and cold. It does well in the shade or under full sunlight and can go dormant in extremely dry conditions to conserve water.

This drought-tolerant grass is slow-growing, so you don't have to mow it as often. It also holds up well under stress and heavy foot traffic. All these factors contribute to its adaptability, resilience, and ability to maintain a healthy look even in regions prone to water scarcity.

St. Augustine Grass

St. Augustine grass is a moderately drought-tolerant grass that can endure prolonged periods of water scarcity. With broad, flat blades, it forms a dense, green lawn that can crowd out most weeds.

But despite its general resilience in dry conditions, St. Augustine grass falls on the higher-maintenance spectrum among grass varieties. It is more susceptible to pests and diseases and often requires more frequent watering during extended dry spells to preserve its vibrant green hue.

Centipede Grass

Centipede grass is favored for its hardy nature and exceptional drought-resistant qualities, which is attributed to its deep-rooted system. This feature also makes it a great solution for erosion control on steep slopes.

Although it has fair shade tolerance, it can endure harsh dry spells by entering a dormant state. It appeals to many homeowners by being low maintenance—it is slow-growing and can tolerate low-fertility soil but thrives best in well-drained and acidic environments.

Centipede grass, a drought tolerant grass

What is The Best Drought-Tolerant Grass For You?

Selecting the right type of grass is key to creating a drought-tolerant lawn. Whether you go for Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine, or another variety, establishing the grass effectively is paramount for drought tolerance.

Cultivating deep root systems is crucial to prepare grass to endure and thrive in adverse conditions, particularly in high temperatures and minimal rainfall.

Bethel Farms is a leading provider of premium-quality grass sod and grass plugs in Florida. We specialize in cultivating drought-tolerant warm-season grass varieties, including Bermuda, Zoysia, and St. Augustine grass to help you establish a healthy, green lawn that thrives in less-than-optimal conditions.

Visit our website to buy grass plugs and sod today!


Jamie Tedder

Jamie surrently serve as Vice President on the board for Turfgrass Producers of Florida. He currently oversees the production of all grasses throughout all farms in Florida at Bethel Farms. He is actively working with top grass breeders, researchers, producers and end users from public and private institutions around the country to stay up to date on current industry developments. Being a University of Florida graduate, he has applied that knowledge to over 22 years of experience growing spectacular grass!

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