Hawaii state outlinePicture of a patch of sod in Hawaii

Hawaii Sod Guide

In this article we'll explore the optimal sod varieties for Hawaii. We'll also delve into their associated costs and the ideal times for laying to ensure growth.

warm season

Understanding the climate conditions and choosing the appropriate grass species will help ensure a successful lawn in Hawaii.


Hawaii has a tropical climate, with temperatures that remain fairly consistent year-round and high humidity levels. The state is divided into different grass zones, each with its own specific climate conditions.

These zones range from humid subtropical to tropical rainforest and are determined by factors such as elevation, rainfall, and temperature. The grasses that are best suited to Hawaii's climate are those that can thrive in warm temperatures and high humidity levels.

These grasses also need to be able to withstand occasional heavy rainfall and periods of drought. The best time to lay grass in Hawaii is during the rainy season, which typically occurs between November and March.

This is because the grass will have the best chance of establishing itself during this time when there is ample moisture in the soil. Overall, Hawaii's warm and humid climate makes it an excellent environment for growing a variety of grasses, each suited to the specific grass zone in which it is planted.

Which grasses grow best in Hawaii?

In the world of landscaping, not all grasses are created equal. Each thrives in a specific climate zone: cool, warm, or transition.

A geographical map highlighting Hawaii located in the warm season region of the United States
Hawaii is a warm season state and falls in the region higlighted above

Hawaii, with its warm season climate, prefers a particular set of grasses that relish the higher temperatures. The following grasses are the easiest to grow and maintain in Hawaii:

BermudaWarm-season grass, drought-tolerant, dense turf, ideal for lawns, golf courses, and sports fields. The price per square foot for Bermuda generally ranges from $0.35 to $0.65 per square foot.
ZoysiaWarm-season grass, slow-growing, dense turf, good for lawns, golf courses, and sports fields. The price per square foot for Zoysia generally ranges from $0.55 to $0.90 per square foot.
St. AugustineWarm-season grass, shade-tolerant, thick carpet-like turf, ideal for lawns in southern coastal regions. The price per square foot for St. Augustine generally ranges from $0.50 to $0.90 per square foot.
CentipedeLow-maintenance, warm-season grass, slow-growing, low fertility requirements, good for lawns in the southeastern US. The price per square foot for Centipede generally ranges from $0.50 to $0.95 per square foot.

While it's possible to grow grasses meant for other regions with proper care, attention and timing, these are the most common grasses in Hawaii for residential lawns.

What is the best time to lay sod in Hawaii?

In a warm-season location, lay sod in late spring or early summer. This timing is ideal as the warmer temperatures and longer days will promote quick root establishment and growth. Avoid laying sod in the cooler months as the grass will likely enter dormancy, slowing down the root establishment process. So, for success, stick to late spring or early summer when it's 75 to 90 degrees out.

As you can see in the image below, you'll notice the most shoot growth (the grass above ground) and root growth during the summer for warm season grasses:

A graph showing the growth of warm season grasses throughout the year
Plant warm-season grasses in the late Spring, early Summer for best results

Best Grasses for Shade in Hawaii

Alright, for all you green thumbs out there looking for the best grasses that thrive in shade in Hawaii, you're in the right place. Let's talk grass!

First up, St. Augustine Grass. We love this tough cookie because it's not only shade-loving but also drought-resistant. Win-win! Expect to give it about 4 to 6 hours of sunlight each day for the green, lush lawn to pop.

Next in line, we've got Zoysia Grass. Also sun-loving, but with a twist. It doesn't mind some shade. Morning sun, afternoon shade, this guy is pretty much the Goldilocks of grass, with an ideal sun dosage of 3 to 6 hours daily. Oh, and it's pretty resistant to wear and tear, so bring on the backyard football!

Then comes the Buffalo Grass. This one's for anyone who wants maximum results with minimum efforts. Only 3 to 4 hours of sunlight every day and it will give you a dense carpet of lush green heaven.

How about that Seashore Paspalum? For those residing closer to the beach (lucky you!), this one's a godsend. It's salt-tolerant and appreciates the shady underbelly of your palm trees, requiring 4 to 6 hours of sunlight to thrive.

Last but not least, Centipede Grass. Its slow-growing nature makes for an easy-to-maintain lawn that can flourish in the shade. This grass does particularly well when there’s around 4 to 5 hours of sunlight.

Remember, most of these grasses can tolerate a fair amount of shade, but they do need sun. The trick is understanding the sun-to-shade balance your yard offers. And don't cut your grass too short, that not only makes it sunburn faster but also stresses the roots.

So, there you have it. These are our top picks for the best grasses for a shady green retreat under the persistent but warm Hawaiian sun! It all boils down to your specific needs, location, and personal preferences. Get planting!

A picture of a shade tree over a lawn in Hawaii
Shade tree over a lawn in Hawaii

What grasses stay green year-round in Hawaii?

As with anything agriculture related, there is some nuance to this question. There are many grasses that can stay green year round in but it depends heavily on your location within the state as well as any microclimates that may exist.

The following grasses have the ability to stay green year round in Hawaii:

Grass TypeCaveats
BermudaIt typically goes dormant and turns brown after a few hard frosts in the fall and stays that way until temperatures consistently hit the 60s in the spring.
ZoysiaIt can stay green nearly year-round in milder climates without severe winter freezes or overly high summer temperatures.
St. AugustineIt can stay green almost year round, but will go dormant and turn brown during cool-season months in colder regions.

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Cities in Hawaii