The Best Grass Seed for Southern Arizona
- A few grass species are native to southern Arizona.Peter Dazeley/Photodisc/Getty Images
The Sonoran Desert, comprising most of southern Arizona, is home to a few species of ornamental and turf grasses. These varieties tolerate Arizona's harsh arid climate, where temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees F, as well as the poor soil conditions commonly found the region's rocky canyons and rugged terrain. Native grass species are acclimated to the desert's arid conditions and thrive as part of a landscape or lawn.
- Bermudagrass is among the most drought-tolerant species, and it is by far the most prominently planted grass seed in southern Arizona. The species thrives in heat, has deep roots to survive arid conditions and quickly establishes into dense sod, via rhizomes and stolons. The species also tolerates higher salinity levels, typical of the region's soil. Bermuda grass fares so well in desert climates that in some cases it is considered invasive. The species is characterized by narrow leaves and a gray-green color that turns brown during the winter. It withstands traffic, grazing and is a good solution for erosion control.
- Although native to the Great Plains, buffalograss can survive the extreme heat and prolonged drought found throughout the desert southwest. The hardy species has deep roots and grows well in southern Arizona, with additional watering. It is prized as a forage grass for cattle or horses, as well as for providing excellent erosion control. The medium-green grass is attractive and forms thick turf well-suited to lawns, parks and playing fields. Although the species can survive extreme heat, it goes dormant in extreme drought. To ensure it grows in southern Arizona, plant buffalograss in well-drained soil and give it a deep soak that reaches its roots at least once a month.
- Blue grama is an Arizona native and is another good option for low-desert turf. It is native to higher elevations around the state, such as Prescott and Flagstaff. If planted at lower elevations, it needs a good soak at least once a month. Blue grama has narrow, grayish-green leaves and produces burgundy-colored flowers and seed heads during the summer months. Blue grama seeds take at least a year to establish and shouldn't be mowed for at least a year after planting to allow roots to strengthen themselves. It is commonly used for grazing and forage for cattle and horses, but the species does not tolerate foot traffic well and shouldn't be used for playing fields or heavily used lawns.