7 Drought-Tolerant Grass Species | TruGreen

6 Drought-Tolerant Grass Species for Drier Climates

By TruGreen October 13, 2023
Healthy turf

6 Drought-Tolerant Grass Species for Drier Climates

Long stretches of warm, dry weather and cloudless skies can do wonders for your mood. Less ideal is the effect these weather conditions can have on your lawn — especially if it persists. Drought (a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall) can cause turf grass to wilt, wither, weaken and potentially die. Irrigation and maintaining a proper watering schedule can help offset some drought stress, but ultimately, if you live in a dry climate, you’ll want to seed your lawn with drought-tolerant grasses. Here, we’ll break down a few types of grasses that stand up well to low-moisture conditions and offer tips on choosing the right grass type for your lawn. Plus, you’ll learn some helpful care tips for keeping your drought-tolerant lawn in great shape — no matter what Mother Nature throws your way.

Does Drought-Resistant Grass Seed Actually Exist?

While you may be able to find drought-resistant grass seed at garden supply stores, the label “drought-resistant” is a misnomer. No grass can survive without water indefinitely. There are, however, several grass varieties capable of withstanding the stresses of hot, dry weather. Because of their lower water requirements and ability to survive temporary periods of drought, we prefer to refer to these species as “drought-tolerant” rather than “drought-resistant.”.

The Best Drought-Tolerant Warm-Season Grasses

If you live in a warmer part of the country, you’ll want to opt for warm-season grass, as these species are better adapted to hotter weather. Keep reading to discover the best warm-season, drought-tolerant grass species for your outdoor living space.


Bermudagrass is one of the most resilient grasses homeowners can choose for their lawn. Like Bahiagrass, it has low water requirements, an excellent drought tolerance and stands up well to heavy foot traffic. It’s also prolific and can survive in most regions of the southern United States. Because of its resilience, Bermudagrass can be extremely difficult to eradicate — so if you’re not comfortable with a Bermudagrass lawn, you’ll want to steer clear of this drought-tolerant species.  


Centipedegrass is known for being a higher-maintenance option, so it may be surprising to see it included here. However, this pale-green grass can withstand periods of drought, earning it a place on our list. It can’t tolerate cold weather or heavy foot traffic — so if you’re often out on your lawn or live in a region with occasional cold snaps, you’d do best to opt for a different drought-tolerant grass for your lawn. 

St. Augustinegrass 

Coarse, dense, and fast-growing, St. Augustinegrass is a popular choice for decorative lawns in the southern United States. It possesses a decent drought tolerance and displays noticeable changes when dehydrated, making it easy to determine if drought conditions are becoming a problem. If you suspect dehydration, take a few steps in the grass. The grass is sufficiently hydrated if the blades perk up after your foot lifts. Blades that remain depressed indicate a lack of water, in which case, infrequent watering (in the morning) will help it remain healthy. 


Zoysiagrass is attractive, adaptable, and easy to care for, making it an ideal choice for homeowners who want a relatively low-maintenance lawn in the mid-part of the country down to the southern US. Though it does best with regular watering, the fine-textured grass possesses an excellent drought tolerance, so it’s unlikely to get overly stressed during drier conditions. It’s also highly tolerant to both heat and cold, can survive well in sunny and shady conditions and can withstand heavy foot traffic.


The Best Drought-Tolerant Cool-Season Grasses

Homeowners in the Northeast, Midwest, and Northwest generally do best with cool-season grasses, which grow during the spring and fall rather than summer. Below, learn about two cool-season grasses capable of withstanding drought periods.

Kentucky Bluegrass 

Kentucky Bluegrass is a popular turfgrass throughout much of the United States thanks to its attractive deep green hue and ability to recover from stress easily. While generally partial to moist, well-drained soil, Kentucky Bluegrass is capable of withstanding temporary periods of drought. Prolonged exposure to hot, dry conditions, however, can lead to dormancy. If you live in a region with higher temperatures or long stretches of dry weather, you may want to consider opting for a more heat-tolerant grass. 

Tall Fescue 

While technically a cool-season grass, tall fescue is well-adapted to heat, which makes it a popular choice for those in the Transition Zone. It’s also highly tolerant of drought conditions and can withstand moderate foot traffic and infrequent mowing. Plus, tall fescue lawns naturally resist many troublesome weeds and lawn diseases. For these reasons (as well as the turf’s attractive deep green hue), it’s considered an excellent pick for homeowners who’d prefer a lawn that’s easier to care for.

How To Care For Your Lawn During a Drought: 3 Tips

Even if you have a drought-tolerant lawn, dry grass requires special care to remain in good shape. Here, learn three tips for keeping your lawn healthy during warm, dry weather. 

1. Limit Foot Traffic 

Even the most drought-tolerant grasses can experience drought stress if left without water long enough. This condition typically causes wilting and discoloration, and if left untreated, can cause your grass to go dormant. If your lawn is beginning to exhibit signs of drought stress, the first thing you’ll want to do is give it water. After that, hands off (or rather, feet off). Heavy foot traffic can place an additional strain on your already-stressed lawn, which may lead to slower recovery. So during a drought, keeping off your lawn can help keep your grass intact. 

2. Avoid Mowing Too Frequently 

When you’re in the throes of hot, dry weather, try to avoid mowing your lawn. The longer the blades, the more moisture your grass can retain — which is why longer grass is better in a drought than shorter grass. If you must mow, be sure to use sharpened blades for clean, even cuts, and keep your mower blades on a high setting. 

3. Keep an Eye Out For Thatch

Thatch — a build-up of organic matter on your lawn’s surface — makes it difficult for essential nutrients, water and sunlight to reach the grass’ roots. This is especially problematic during a drought, as grass needs all the moisture it can get when environmental conditions are dry. If your turf is prone to thatch, we suggest incorporating Lawn Aeration into your annual lawn care schedule. This service removes thatch and helps stimulate root development to ensure your lawn stays healthy throughout the seasons.

For a Healthy Lawn, Consult The Experts

Caring for a lawn in a drought-prone area can be tricky, even if it is a drought-tolerant species. Thankfully, TruGreen® is here to help. Our local specialists are well-versed in the various environmental conditions that can impact your lawn. On the first visit, your TruGreen expert will assess your lawn to determine its unique needs. Then, they’ll develop a custom lawn care plan designed to address these requirements and help your grass thrive now and for seasons to come.


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