North Carolina state outlinePicture of a patch of sod in North Carolina

North Carolina Sod Guide

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

transition zone

By choosing the right grass and laying it at the appropriate time, homeowners can ensure a healthy and thriving lawn.


North Carolina has a humid subtropical climate, which means it experiences hot summers and mild winters with high levels of rainfall throughout the year. This climate affects the types of grass that thrive in the state, as they must be able to withstand both extreme heat and moisture.

The state falls within the transition zone for grasses, which means it has a mix of warm-season and cool-season grasses. The best times to lay grass in North Carolina depend on the type of grass being planted, but generally, the ideal times are during the spring and fall when temperatures are mild and there is plenty of rainfall to help the grass establish its root system.

When choosing grass for North Carolina, it's important to consider the grass zone. The state falls within the warm-season grass zone, which means that warm-season grasses like Bermuda, Zoysia, and St. Augustine will generally grow best.

However, certain areas of the state may also be suitable for cool-season grasses like fescue, depending on factors like elevation and rainfall levels. Overall, the climate and grass zone in North Carolina play a significant role in determining the types of grass that are best suited for the region.

Which grasses grow best in North Carolina?

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 North Carolina located in the transition zone region of the United States
North Carolina is a transition zone state and falls in the region higlighted above

North Carolina, with its transition zone climate, prefers a particular set of grasses that relish the a wide range of temperatures. The following grasses are the easiest to grow and maintain in North Carolina:

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.
Tall FescueCool-season grass, shade-tolerant, deep-rooted, ideal for lawns, pastures, and sports fields in cooler climates. The price per square foot for Tall Fescue generally ranges from $0.60 to $0.85 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 North Carolina for residential lawns.

What is the best time to lay sod in North Carolina?

For transition zones, consider the type of sod. For warm season grasses, aim for late spring. This gives them a full summer to establish before winter. For cool season grasses, fall is best, allowing roots to develop in mild temperatures. Whichever you pick, avoid extremes of summer and winter. So, late spring for warm grasses, fall for cool ones, and skip the severe seasons.

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

A graph showing the growth of cool season grasses throughout the year
Plant cool-season grasses during the Spring and Fall for best results
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 North Carolina

In North Carolina, picking the right type of grass that can thrive in shady spots is critical. Not all grasses are best buds with shadows. Some are, though. Let's talk about those heroes!First up, we have St. Augustine grass. It's warm-season turfgrass loves shade like popcorn loves butter. Typically, it needs around 4 hours of sunlight daily. Less than that? It's all good as long as irrigation is available.Next on the list is Zoysia grass. Its heart sings in shady areas. But, it also delivers a roundhouse kick to heat and drought. 4 hours of sun would be smashing. But if not, no worries - it's got courage in the shadows.Think we're done? Not even close! Say ‘hello’ to Fescue grass. Specifically, we're talking fine and tall fescues here. Fine fescue is the emo-kid, loving both cool temperatures and dim lights. Tall Fescue, on the other hand, is more of a day-party type, adoring a few extra sunbeams. About six hours of daily sunlight does it wonders!Rolling out the Red Carpet – not literally, it’s actually a variety of Bermudagrass. This diva requires about 4-5 hours of sunlight per day. Hot, well-drained soils where other grasses might give up? That's this star's spotlight!Just remember: even shady area grass types need their bit of sunshine. Make sure they get their quota, water them as recommended, and they'll bring the green glam to your garden. We promise! Up next, we'll dive into the world of mowing. Stay tuned. You'll love what's coming!

A picture of a shade tree over a lawn in North Carolina
Shade tree over a lawn in North Carolina

What grasses stay green year-round in North Carolina?

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 North Carolina:

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.
Tall FescueIt typically stays green throughout the year in milder climates, given that it isn't overly stressed by heat or drought in the summer.

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Cities in North Carolina