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The Best Grass Seed for California

If you live in California, finding the right grass seed might seem like a challenge—but if you go by your region and plant hardiness zone, finding the right species that will thrive in your yard is simple.

One of the best references for specific areas is going by the plant hardiness zone map, which is a geographically-defined zone that can help you determine your area’s zone type based on temperature. 

California Grass Seed by Region

There are five central regions within the state of California: Pacific Northwest, Intermountain West, Southwest Desert, Southwest Transitional. As you can see by the plant hardiness map, the temperatures don’t vary much throughout the state. Still, certain species of grass will do better than others depending on your exact location.

Pacific Northwest

The pacific northwest is located in northwest California, on the edge of Oregon and the Pacific Ocean. This region is wet and cold with extensive, temperate forests that are lush with tall trees and a variety of plants. As you move inland, the land is drier with harsh winters and warm summers, with a plant hardiness zone of 8a to 9b. 

If you live in the pacific northwest, then you can plant a variety of grass seeds, including: 

  • Fine Fescue
  • Kentucky Bluegrass
  • Perennial Ryegrass
  • White Dutch Clover
  • Sheep Fescue

Pacific Southwest 

The pacific southwest is located in southwest California along the coast of the Pacific Ocean and Mexico. Since it’s by the ocean, the weather is comfortable and mild, with warm winters and cool summers. The plant hardiness zones here are between 6a and 9b. 

Types of seeds you can plant in the pacific southwest include:

  • Bermudagrass
  • Buffalograss
  • Kentucky Bluegrass
  • Perennial Ryegrass
  • Tall Fescue
  • White Dutch Clover
  • Sheep Fescue 

Intermountain West  

The intermountain west is a region that creeps into northeastern California along Oregon and Nevada. This area is far inland and mountainous, home to part of the Rocky Mountains, Cascade Range, and the Sierra Nevada. Depending on the elevation, the intermountain west can experience warmer and shorter winters without much precipitation, but experience hot summers throughout the whole region. Plant hardiness zones range from 6a to 7b. 

Deserts and temperate grasslands occupy this area, meaning that the best grass seeds for the intermountain west include:

  • Buffalograss
  • Fine Fescue
  • Kentucky Bluegrass
  • Perennial Ryegrass
  • White Dutch Clover

Southwest Desert 

The southwest desert is located along the edge of southeast California, mainly bordering Arizona. This is the hottest and driest region in the nation with little to no rainfall all year long. Plant hardiness zones range from 8a to 9b, although around vast lakes, you might have some wetlands that range from 6a to 7a. 

Like most of Arizona, the southwest desert has arid deserts and dry soil, which requires persistent and adaptable seeds, such as: 

  • Bermudagrass
  • Buffalograss
  • Perennial Ryegrass (for winter overseeding)
  • White Dutch Clover

Southwest Transitional 

The southwest transitional zone—also known as the Arizona transitional zone—barely comes into California, only touching a small part of the eastern border along Nevada in the middle of the southwest desert. This region is a unique part of the United States along the Basin and Range region mixed with plateaus, deserts, and even volcanic fields. 

Some of the best grass seeds that can grow in the southwest transitional region includes: 

  • Buffalograss
  • Fine Fescue
  • Kentucky Bluegrass
  • Perennial Ryegrass
  • White Dutch Clover
  • Sheep Fescue

Best Grass Seeds for California

Once you’ve established which region you live in, it’s time to pick the grass that’s best for your needs. Whether you want a grass that can handle foot traffic or prefer one that has low maintenance, Nature’s Seed has a variety of grass seeds for your lawn. 

Buffalograss 

Buffalograss is a soft dark green grass that thrives in full sunlight and is used for beautifying lawns and water conservation. It has low maintenance demands, but it may take up to two years to fully establish a sod. 

Buffalograss is ideal for the southwest desert, intermountain west, pacific southwest, and southwest transitional regions. It has excellent drought tolerance and requires little water. It withholds its vibrant green even amid the hottest summer days—but it will have a brownish color during cold winter days.  

Bermudagrass

Bermudagrass is a bright and coarse grass that does well in the full sun. This species is perfect for lawns, turfs, or any place that may have high foot traffic. 

Bermudagrass thrives in the southwest desert and pacific southwest and has its best color during the hot summer months. Although it establishes slowly, it spreads aggressively, so you’ll see an adequately thick lawn within a few months. 

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass thrives all over California and is also widely used all over the U.S. It germinates and establishes quickly with lush, long-lasting color, even in full or partial sun. It does excellent as a high-traffic lawn or for sports fields and turfs but requires plenty of water.  

In some cases, homeowners prefer to use perennial ryegrass as a temporary solution to cover dormant lawns during the wintertime.  

White Dutch Clover 

White dutch clover is a lawn additive that does well in any region. It does an exceptional job of covering up balding spots or beautifying already-lush lawns. It’s one of the most popular ways to add nutrients back into the soil and attracts pollinators, making it ideal for gardens.

White dutch clover does well in full sun and shady areas. Although it requires a moderate amount of water, it never needs fertilizing and outcompetes local weeds and grows in poor soil. Whether your lawn has problem spots or you just want to beautify your garden, white dutch clover is one of the most beautiful and straightforward lawn additives available. 

Fine Fescue 

Fine fescue does well in the intermountain west, pacific northwest, and southwest transitional zones. Fescue grasses are known for their adaptability, high tolerance, and durability. 

Fine fescue requires little maintenance. This species is a great alternative to try if you come across irrigation and poor soil issues that other grasses can’t keep up with. It also performs well in partial sun and shade, making it perfect for lawns with plenty of coverage. 

Find the Right Seed For Your Region

California is one of the largest states in the United States and is made up of five regions that vary between lush forests, rocky mountains, and arid deserts. Finding the right grass for your area is essential when it comes to seeding your lawn. Using this guide or the Seed Selector Tool will help you determine which species and blends will thrive best on your lawn. 


If you need help picking the right blend for your lawn, contact Nature’s Seed today!



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