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

South Carolina Sod Guide

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

warm season

It's the place to be for grass varieties that enjoy a long, steamy summer.”


South Carolina knows how to do a summer. You can count on it being hot and stickier than a peach cobbler. Winters?

They're on the mild side. This all adds up to a humid subtropical climate that's pretty cozy for warm-season grasses, which don't mind breaking a sweat in the hot summer months. Now, when it comes to the grass zone, South Carolina straddles the transition zone.

That means it can swing either way – warm-season or cool-season grasses. But, truth be told, warm-season grasses usually end up stealing the show, given the local weather. If you're planning to put down roots (grass roots, that is) in South Carolina, aim for late spring or early summer.

It's when the weather's warm but hasn't cranked up to full-blown summer heat. That gives your grass a head start to get its feet under it before the really hot weather hits. But remember, avoid laying grass when it's as hot as blue blazes in summer or during droughts.

Which grasses grow best in South 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 South Carolina located in the warm season region of the United States
South Carolina is a warm season state and falls in the region higlighted above

South Carolina, 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 South 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.
BahiaWarm-season grass, drought-tolerant, deep-rooted, used for lawns, pastures, and erosion control in the southeastern US. The price per square foot for Bahia generally ranges from $0.30 to $0.60 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 South Carolina for residential lawns.

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

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 South Carolina

If you've got a shady garden in South Carolina, don't sweat it. We've got you covered. The first turf that comes to mind is Zoysia. Why do we love it? Most other grasses fade in shadows, but Zoysia thrives. It flat-out refuses to die, even in areas that receive as little as three hours of sun daily. Handy when you've got those towering pines casting long shade.

Next on our shade-proof list is Centipede grass. True to its name, this grass won't stop crawling. It's slow to grow, but highly tenacious, demanding four to six hours of sun. While it demands patience, Centipede grass rewards with its fine texture and light green hue. Without a doubt, it makes those shaded areas pop.

Let's talk St. Augustine. Fancy beaches and cocktails may spring to mind, but it's also a grass powerhouse in shady conditions. It loves heat, though it hates frost. Providing it gets four hours of sunlight, it'll put on a lush, thick, dark green display that will make neighbors green with envy.

South Carolina can get brutal summer heat, so shade isn't always a grass’s worst enemy. Fescue Grass enters the stage here. It's tolerant of both shade and heat, asking for a minimum of four hours of sunlight. You get a grass that's soft to the touch, with the bonus of high drought tolerance. Bingo!

Don't let shaded spots leave you frustrated. With these power players—Zoysia, Centipede, St. Augustine, and Fescue—you've got options. Here's to a lush lawn, no matter how tall your trees are!

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

What grasses stay green year-round in South 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 South 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.
BahiaIt tends to stay green throughout warm weather but may go dormant and brown in cooler weather or during periods of drought.

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