Drought-Tolerant Grass: A Water Efficient Lawn Alternative

As avid gardeners, we understand the struggle to maintain a lush, green lawn in areas with water restrictions or arid climates like California. This is where drought tolerant grasses shine, offering the ability to withstand extended periods without water and providing an ideal solution for maintaining a beautiful lawn under challenging conditions.

In this article, we will introduce you to some of the best drought tolerant grass types that thrive in full sun and can help you cultivate a lawn that is both practical and pleasing to the eye. By understanding the unique properties and advantages of each type of grass, you can make informed decisions to suit your specific landscaping needs and preferences.

What Is Drought-Tolerant Grass?

Drought-tolerant grass is grass with the ability to survive and maintain growth with minimal water. Drought-tolerant grasses have developed adaptations to conserve water and survive in drought-prone environments during warm or cool seasons. These adaptations include deep root systems, narrow and dense foliage, dormancy, or waxy leaf coating.

Types of Drought-Tolerant Grass

Drought-tolerant grasses are a great choice for California lawns, as they require less water than traditional lawn grasses and can withstand periods of reduced rainfall. In this section, we will explore different types of drought-tolerant grass, focusing primarily on two categories: Warm season and cool season grasses.

Warm Season Drought-Resistant Grass

Warm season grasses thrive in areas with high temperatures and grow best during the year’s warmest months. Some of the most drought-tolerant warm season grasses include:

  • Hybrid Bermuda Grass: This highly drought-resistant grass is known for its dense growth, making it suitable for lawns and sports fields. It requires minimal watering and can withstand high temperatures.
  • Zoysia Grass: Another drought-tolerant option, Zoysia grass is adaptable to various soil types and can grow in partially shaded areas. Its slow growth rate makes it an excellent low-maintenance option.
  • Common Bermuda Grass: This grass type is resistant to drought and common pests, diseases, and wear. Moreover, it establishes quickly and can recover rapidly from damage.
  • Seashore Paspalum: This grass can be an excellent choice if your Californian property is located in a coastal area with sandy soils. Known for its salt and drought tolerance, Seashore Paspalum can thrive in sandy soils and requires little water or fertilizer.

Cool Season Drought-Resistant Grass

Cool season grasses grow best during the cooler months of the year and can survive periods of drought. Some popular drought-tolerant options include:

  • Tall Fescue: This narrow-leaved, dark green grass ranks among the best drought-resistant grasses for cool-season climates. It is adaptable to various soil types and can tolerate moderate traffic.
  • Fine Fescue: Fine fescues are known for their fine texture and resilience to dry conditions. They are commonly used in overseeding or shade-tolerant seed mixtures and require minimal water and maintenance.
  • Kentucky Bluegrass: While less drought-tolerant than Tall Fescue or Fine Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass can still survive periods of dryness. It can go dormant during droughts, temporarily turning brown and recovering quickly once water becomes available.

Drought-tolerant grass - Lyngso

How to Choose a Drought-Tolerant Grass for Your Californian Property

Given the state’s frequent drought conditions and water conservation measures, choosing the right grass is crucial. When considering options for the Californian climate, various factors come into play. While both warm and cool-season grass types make viable options for the Californian climate, it’s important to consider your specific landscaping needs as well as the microclimate of your area. For example, if your Californian property is located near the coast or in an area with sandy soil, you may want to consider Seashore Paspalum as it’s particularly resistant to salt and can thrive in sandy soils. Hybrid Bermuda or Kentucky Bluegrass can be great drought-resistant grass options for most other properties.

Advantages of California Native Grass

When discussing drought-tolerant grass options for a Californian property, we’d be amiss not to discuss California native grasses. These varieties are well-adapted to thrive in the state’s climate, which often experiences long periods of dry weather and drought conditions. Some fantastic options include California native sod such as Native Bentgrass™ and Kurapia® by DeltaBluegrass, both of which you can find at Lyngso.

California Native Sod™

California native sod offers incredible variety and versatility. From grasses with a more traditional lawn appearance to sod that can thrive in areas with up to 50% daily shade, California native sod is a fantastic option.


Kurapia is a highly versatile ground cover sod that uses up to 60% less water than cool-season turf. Its sturdy structure is ideal for many uses and requires very little maintenance for areas with light traffic.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Drought-Tolerant Grass

Advantages of Drought-Resistant Grass

There are several advantages associated with drought tolerant grass. Firstly, it requires less irrigation, which helps conserve precious water resources. Moreover, drought tolerant grass can promote healthier soil by reducing erosion and runoff. This is because, in times of drought, these grass types develop deep root systems that help hold the soil together, preventing degradation. Lastly, drought tolerant grasses generally require lower overall maintenance.

Disadvantages of Drought-Resistant Grass

Despite the benefits, a few potential challenges are associated with drought-resistant grass. For example, some homeowners might dislike these grasses’ less lush or coarse appearance compared to traditional lawn grass types. Moreover, some drought-tolerant grass types may not be as resistant to pests or diseases as more water-dependent varieties.

How to Maintain Your Drought-Tolerant Grass

After selecting the appropriate grass type for your specific climate and needs, proper lawn maintenance is key for a healthy and water-efficient lawn. Here are some important factors to keep in mind:

  • Proper Watering: Even drought-tolerant grass needs water to establish and maintain its health. We recommend watering deeply and infrequently to encourage root growth. This will allow the roots to reach water reserves held low in the soil profile.
  • Mowing: Mow your lawn at the appropriate height for your chosen grass species. Taller grass can help shade the soil, reducing evaporation and promoting deeper root growth.
  • Use of Organic Fertilizers: Organic fertilizers such as Bio-Live and Bio-Turn provide natural nutrients in a slow-release manner, promoting sustained grass health. This can increase the resilience of the grass during the stress of dry periods without harmful environmental impact.

drought tolerant grass

Final thoughts

At Lyngso, we understand that careful consideration and research are essential for a successful landscaping project. As a distributor of DeltaBluegrass, we invite you to visit our large showroom and landscaping yard in San Carlos to learn more about the different California native grass options and get valuable advice, ideas, and inspiration for your project. Contact us today if you have questions or need help and to learn about delivery options to your SF Bay area home.