The Best Grass Types for a Lush Green Yard in Seattle, WA

Are you ready to create a beautiful green yard where your kids and pets can frolic? Choosing the right grass seed is key. But with so many options available, how do you know which one is best for Seattle? Here, we’ve rounded up the top four grass types that thrive in the Seattle area, so you can make an informed decision.

Fine Fescues

Fine Fescues
Photo Credit: Matt Lavin / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

Fine fescues, especially red fescue, are among the best cool-season grasses for Seattle. They excel in cool, shaded areas where low maintenance is desired. With fine fescues, you’ll enjoy the benefits of low mowing, low fertilization, and low irrigation.

These cool-season grasses have medium to dark green blades that establish quickly, requiring minimal effort on your part. In the US, there are five main varieties: hard fescue, chewings fescue, sheep fescue, slender creeping red fescue, and strong creeping red fescue. Fescues are often mixed with perennial ryegrass to create a sun-shade mix.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type or rhizomes, depending on the variety
  • Shade Tolerance: Medium to high level of shade tolerance; requires at least five hours of sunlight
  • Drought Tolerance: High; may go dormant
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: Low to moderate (higher with a mix of ryegrass or Kentucky bluegrass)
  • Maintenance Needs: Low
  • Mowing Height: 0.75-2 inches (specifically for western Washington)
  • Potential for Disease: High; susceptible to weather-related diseases such as red thread, dollar spot, and powdery mildew

Recommended grass seed options:

  • Outsidepride Legacy Fine Fescue Grass Seed (5 lbs.)
  • Eretz Creeping Red Fine Fescue Seed (choose your size)
  • Outsidepride Creeping Red Fine Fescue Grass Seed (25 lbs.)
  • Outsidepride Hard Fine Fescue Grass Seed (10 lbs.)

Kentucky Bluegrass

Kentucky Bluegrass
Photo Credit: Ethan2039 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Kentucky bluegrass is the most commonly used cool-season grass in the northern United States. Although it has a shallow root system and is less drought-tolerant, with the right care, it can provide a beautiful lawn. Kentucky bluegrass is popular due to its traffic tolerance and ability to recover quickly from drought and wear.

Generally, pure Kentucky bluegrass lawns are not well-adapted to Seattle’s climate and soils. To overcome this, it is often mixed with fine fescue or ryegrass. A good mix is 30% Kentucky bluegrass (by weight) combined with perennial ryegrass or fine fescue.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Rhizomes
  • Shade Tolerance: Low; prefers direct sunlight
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate; may go dormant but recovers with rain or irrigation
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: High
  • Maintenance Needs: Moderate
  • Mowing Height: 1.25-2 inches
  • Potential for Disease: Moderate

Recommended grass seed options:

  • Jonathan Green (11970) Blue Panther Kentucky Bluegrass Grass Seed (3 lbs.)
  • SeedRanch Midnight Kentucky Bluegrass Seed (5 lbs.)
  • Jacklin Seed – Biltmore Blue Blend – 100% Kentucky Bluegrass (5 lbs.)

Perennial Ryegrasses

Perennial Ryegrass
Photo Credit: Dr Mary Gillham Archive Project / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Perennial ryegrass is well-suited for both western and eastern Washington. It can be used alone or mixed with fine fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, or bentgrass. Its high wear resistance makes it an excellent choice for Seattle lawns.

Ryegrass requires more maintenance than the previous grass types due to its quick growth rate in full sun. You may need to mow two or three times a week to keep up with its growth. Additionally, overseeding is necessary once wear or thinning occurs, as ryegrass does not self-repair.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade Tolerance: Low
  • Drought Tolerance: Low
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: High; overseeding often required for repairs and increased density
  • Maintenance Needs: Moderate to high
  • Mowing Height: 1.25-1.5 inches
  • Potential for Disease: Moderate; susceptible to red thread and other fungal diseases

Recommended grass seed options:

  • Outsidepride Perennial Ryegrass Seed (5 lbs.)
  • Eretz ProTurf Perennial Ryegrass Fine Lawn Seed (choose your size)


Photo Credit: Rasbak / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Bentgrass thrives in the Pacific Northwest. This perennial cool-season grass requires plenty of sunlight and regular maintenance, including frequent mowing, to thrive. If you prefer higher mowing heights, bentgrass may not be the best choice, as it should not exceed 0.75 inches in western Washington.

Bentgrass is often used on golf courses, especially on the greens, as it performs best when mowed very closely. If allowed to grow out, it may appear shaggy.

  • Classification: Cool-season grass
  • Spreads by: Bunch-type
  • Shade Tolerance: Low to moderate
  • Drought Tolerance: Low
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: Moderate
  • Maintenance Needs: High
  • Mowing Height: 0.75 inches
  • Potential for Disease: Moderate

How to Choose the Best Grass for Seattle

All of these grasses can grow in your Seattle lawn, but some may be better suited to your property and needs than others. Consider your yard’s shade levels, the level of foot traffic it receives, and the amount of maintenance you’re willing to dedicate to your grass.

Maintenance Needs

Think about the effort you’re willing to invest in your yard. If you prefer low-maintenance landscaping, fine fescues are the best choice. They require minimal work to keep them happy. Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass fall into the moderate maintenance category, and bentgrass requires the most care of all.

Foot Traffic Tolerance

Consider the amount of activity your yard receives. If you have a busy yard with backyard parties and outdoor games, Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass are great options due to their high foot traffic tolerance. Fine fescues and bentgrasses have moderate foot tolerance.

Shade Tolerance

Assess the shade levels in your lawn. Fine fescues have the highest shade tolerance and work well in lawns with many trees casting shadows. Ryegrasses can handle moderately shady conditions, making them suitable for part-sun, part-shade lawns. Kentucky bluegrasses and bentgrasses have lower shade tolerance and prefer full sun.

Remember to choose a grass type that suits your needs and the conditions of your lawn for the best results.

Leave the Lawn Care to a Seattle Pro

Choosing the right grass for your Seattle lawn can be a challenge. If you need help selecting the right grass type or maintaining your lawn’s beauty, consider contacting a local Seattle lawn care service. They can assist you with all your lawn care and grass needs.

Main Image Credit: Ochir-Erdene Oyunmedeg / Unsplash

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