Planting Grass Seed in California

by Dallas Piscopo

California is a great big state with a host of different growing environments and every grass seed known to man can be successfully established and grown in one or more regions. Having said that, below are some of the most common.

Cool-Season Grasses

Warm-Season Grasses 

Cool-Season Grasses will grow best in the northern cooler climates and mountainous areas of California and should  be planted between September 5th and October 10th. All varieties can be planted by themselves but are often planted in grass seed blends. For example, Kentucky bluegrass and perennial rye grass are both fine textured grasses and complement each other nicely producing an attractive turf grass surface. Fine fescue and tall fescue can be blended together but tall fescue should never be blended with Kentucky bluegrass. Fine fescue is more cold tolerant than tall fescue and grows well in shady areas. Tall fescue is the most heat tolerant cool-season grass and can thrive in some of the warmer mid regions of California if grown in a lawn with a water irrigation system,

Warm-Season Grasses are for the mid to southern California regions and are best established when planted in late spring to early summer. Bermuda grass is probably your most common warm-season grass found in California. It’s incredibly heat, drought, traffic, and salt tolerant making it an excellent choice for most of the mid interior regions and just about all of southern California. Most warm-season grass will go dormant and turn brown in the fall but bermuda grass can be easily over-seeded in the fall with perennial rye grass producing a continuous green lawn throughout the winter.

Visit the over-seeding page for detailed steps on over-seeding bermuda grass.

Lesser used warm-season grasses that are not easily over-seeded  include St. Augustine grass, zoysia grass, bahia grass, centipede grass, and buffalograss. These grasses, except for buffalograss, thrive along the southern california coastal regions. Buffalograssis a true prairie grass that can be used for a lawn where minimal maintenance is desired.

Visit your cooperative extension regional and county offices for specific grass lawn advise for your neck of the woods.

Click on one of the grasses for planting details and then visit the Planting Grass Seed page for detailed instructions on how to correctly prepare your soil and plant your grass seed for your lawn. 

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt March 5, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Good job on this article! I have great respect for gardeners and the tips they share. I’m always on the lookout for gardening information so I could improve the appeal of my lawn. By the way, our site has some grass seed guide to share with you and your readers. Come and take a look!


Dallas Piscopo July 20, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Thanks Matt and I’m glad you liked the article.


David Orona April 14, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Can you grow centipede grass in southern california.


Dallas Piscopo July 20, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Hey David. Sorry for the REALLY late response but I had some problems with spam comments and now playing catch up. You sure can grow centipede grass in the lovely, great weather, state of California. Where at in California are you located? Check out this centipede grass link for some general info.


Josh Stockton August 23, 2014 at 7:00 pm

This is a great article,
Most people are not aware that there are cool season and warm season grasses. My neighbor panted some warm season grasses he bought online last year and it came out great. This spring, after our extended Boston winter, he was completely confused at why it did not survive. People need to know about this topic before they try to grow grass seed on their own and your article does a great job informing them.


Dallas Piscopo August 24, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Thanks Josh for your comment and you are completely correct, grass seed selection is a crucial component of ensuring a healthy, lush, green lawn. As your neighbor found out the hard way, he would be much better off planting a cool season grass in the Boston area over a warm season one.


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