Best Grass For High Traffic

What’s The Best Grass For High Traffic Lawn Areas?

Part of the reason people love lawns is because they are a welcoming, functional space. Whether you’re hosting friends for a fabulous afternoon brunch, or dominating your toddlers in a pre-dinner pickup soccer game — lawns are where life happens. But to have a great lawn you can enjoy, you’ll need to invest some time in maintaining it. The time required? Well that could be a little or a lot depending on how much traffic it gets. Today I’ll share some tips to have a great lawn that loves to get lived in. I’ll also share some of my picks for the best grass for high traffic lawns.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Certified Horticulturist Nicole Forsyth, M.S.

The term “lawn traffic” basically refers to what happens when people or animals walk on your grass.

There are some grass types that can stand up to high traffic, even if kids and pets are constantly tearing around your yard.

In my experience, the best grasses for high traffic lawns are durable and have deep roots. It also helps if they spread laterally (which means they’ll repair themselves naturally and fill in bare spots when damage inevitably happens).

What's The Best Grass For High Traffic Lawn Areas

A few factors that affect which grass will be best for your lawn are:

  • where you live,
  • how much use your lawn gets, and
  • who (or what) is using your yard on a regular basis.

Below you’ll find my detailed guide to the most resilient grass types, including the pros and cons of each one.

It also includes a few tips on how to tell if foot traffic is harming your lawn, as well as some tips to help your lawn endure high traffic.

Most Resilient Grass Types (in my experience)

In my experience (and according to my research) the most resilient grass types for a lawn include:

Each of these has its own advantages and disadvantages, and depending upon where you live some may not work well for you at all (even if they are a great grass type in general).

Let’s take a closer look at each of these types of grass, and what makes them work well for high-traffic lawn areas.


Bermudagrass is a common drought tolerant grass that grows best in warm, dry weather.

Bermudagrass Lawn

It features an extensive root system and feels very coarse to the touch, features that make it highly durable and stress resistant. You might recognize this grass from golf courses.

Richard L. Duble, a Turfgrass Specialist with the Texas Cooperative Extension, shares that “Bermudagrass is well suited to high traffic areas such as sports fields, golf courses, and playgrounds. A dense bermudagrass turf tolerates moderate wear and compaction and recovers rapidly from wear injury.”

He cautions that “the only situation where bermudagrass cannot be used is in moderate to heavily shaded sites.

  • It thrives in high temperatures
  • Able to grow in a wide range of soils
  • Rapid growth rate, even while being exposed to heavy traffic
  • Can be invasive to other plants on your lawn
  • Not ideal for areas with prolonged cold weather
  • Requires frequent mowing

If you decide to go with bermudagrass, make sure it gets frequent full sun exposure and good soil drainage.

You should also mow your lawn once or twice a week to ensure the grass doesn’t go where it’s not supposed to go.

Kentucky Bluegrass

This grass type is not just great for classic country songs. It’s also considered one of the most durable grass types in the lawn and landscaping community.

According to Louis Berg Stack, an Extension Ornamental Horticulture Specialist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, “Kentucky bluegrass knits together well because it spreads by underground rhizomes. It tolerates cold winter temperatures and heavy wear, making it an excellent athletic field choice.”

Kentucky Bluegrass Lawn

It’s a cool season grass that grows dense and thick blades, making it able to withstand heavy traffic.

  • Able to withstand all types of weather
  • Self-spreading, but not invasive
  • Will make your lawn look green and lush all year
  • Very high maintenance
  • Not as drought resistant as other grass types
  • Prone to stripe rust, especially if growth is slowed

Kentucky bluegrass needs plenty of sunshine with thorough and frequent watering. As long as you take good care of it, Kentucky bluegrass can be a great choice for a high traffic lawn.


Zoysiagrass is another warm season grass that has a dense and thick growth pattern.

It’s somewhat similar to Kentucky bluegrass, only it needs to be fertilized more frequently and is more susceptible to diseases.

Zoysiagrass Lawn

Of the grass types on this list, it’s probably the most finicky and may not bounce back or handle traffic as well as the others. Still, it is a beautiful turfgrass once established if you don’t mind the relative high-maintenance requirements of this species.

According to Dennis Martin, an Extension Turf Specialist at Oklahoma State University, Meyer zoysiagrass (Z-52) “is a medium-textured cultivar that produces medium-dense turf [which has] superior wear tolerance.”

He shares that with Zoysia “its winter hardiness and its ability to grow under light shade are its desirable features. Its slow establishment rate is its greatest liability.”

  • Can thrive in different soil types
  • Grows thick and dense, making it very durable
  • Able to grow quickly
  • More prone to disease and insects
  • Needs to be fertilized frequently
  • Can be difficult to evenly mow

If you have the time and energy to thoroughly take care of a Zoysiagrass lawn, it’s a great option for its resistance to foot traffic.

Tall Fescue

Another cool season grass, tall fescue grows very deep and sturdy roots as well as coarse blades.

Tall Fescue Lawn

These features make it an ideal grass for high traffic lawns, given how it’s durable against foot traffic and pretty much anything else the environment throws at it.

But experts at the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences encourage homeowners to “use newer varieties.” They share that “these have improved cold temperature hardiness, excellent drought and wear tolerance and Brown patch resistance.”

  • Able to adapt to water availability and changing temperatures
  • Easy to take care of and low maintenance
  • Resistant to disease and insects
  • Prone to thinning
  • If damaged, it has a slow recovery time
  • Cannot mow it too short

Tall fescue might be one of the best options for a high traffic lawn, especially if you choose a Turf-Type Tall Fescue (TTTF) which has the ability to spread laterally similar to some of the other grass types mentioned on this list.

As long as you give it the proper care, it’s very durable and will withstand almost anything.

Perennial Ryegrass

Last but not least, perennial ryegrass is another popular choice if you need a durable lawn.

Perennial Ryegrass Lawn

It’s a cool season grass with tough blades and a deep root system, is resistant to droughts, and it germinates and grows very fast, so it’s quick to establish itself.

According to experts at the University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources website, “Perennial ryegrass has the highest wear-tolerance of any cool-season grass and can tolerate high traffic.” They suggest that “its rapid emergence helps to suppress weeds,” adding that “for a more traffic and disease-resistant turf, it is often mixed with Kentucky bluegrass.”

  • Relatively low maintenance
  • Resistant to insects and disease
  • Doesn’t produce as much thatch as other cool season grasses
  • Requires high amounts of water and fertilizer to thrive
  • Doesn’t spread through lawns very easily
  • Can stunt the growth of other grasses around it

If it’s the only grass type you use and you keep it watered and fertilized, perennial ryegrass is a great option if you want a durable lawn.

Best Grasses for Lawns Used by Animals and Children

Children and animals are two of the main contributors to traffic that can damage or challenge residential lawns.

Best Grasses For Animals and Children

All of the grasses mentioned above will be able to resist the frequent joy (or abuse depending upon what you choose to focus on) from little feet, or paws.

But some grasses are better for handling animal and children traffic than others.

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In the North

Kentucky Bluegrass is considered the best option if you live in a northern area. It’s very durable and is able to recover from any damage all on its own since it’s a spreading grass that self-repairs.

In the Transition Zone

If you live in a midwestern state, such as Tennessee or Missouri, a good Turf Type Tall Fescue is the best option for you. It can grow in sunny or cloudy climates, and it’s still able to resist high foot traffic. The deep roots make it better able to cope with the tough summers in this part of the country.

In the South

Finally, if you live in more southern states, Bermudagrass is going to be the best option for you in my opinion. It’s able to last through heat and drought, and it’s durable against foot traffic. It’s also fast-spreading and will self-repair quickly.

Additionally, the blades have a wider base and pointed top, which makes it more comfortable to run on for children and animals.

How To Tell If Foot Traffic Is Hurting Your Lawn

Before you decide which grass to plant in your lawn, it’s a good idea to determine how badly your lawn is affected by foot traffic. It could be what you think is foot traffic damage has another cause.

How To Tell If Foot Traffic Is Hurting My Lawn

There are a few key signs indicating that foot traffic is harming your lawn.

For example, if your grass is brown and patchy, that is a solid clue that your lawn endures high foot traffic.

Some less obvious signs of foot traffic harming your lawn include your grass being more vulnerable to disease.

Grass that gets frequently trampled on is more prone to diseases, such as funguses. Grass that looks yellow or brown could be suffering from a turf fungus.

The last way to tell if your lawn suffers from high foot traffic is by monitoring how often your lawn is walked on.

For example; if your pet walks on it multiple times each day to do its business, or your kids frequently play on it, it’s safe to assume that your lawn has high foot traffic.

From there, you can decide which grass is the best to plant to protect your lawn.

Tips To Fortify Your Lawn for High Traffic

Even the most durable and low maintenance grass types may still be susceptible to damage from high foot traffic.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to give your lawn extra protection.

How To Fortify Lawn for High Traffic

First and foremost, make sure your lawn is being properly taken care of. This means giving your lawn the right amount of water, sunshine, and creating a fertilizer schedule.

You should also aerate your yard’s soil often to ensure it doesn’t clump up, which can affect how well your grass grows and how protected your lawn is.

Once you plant new grass seed, give it some time to fully root and grow before you let children or animals onto it.

You should also try to rotate where outdoor activities are held, so that the same area of grass is used more than other areas.

Finally, try not to walk on the grass when its wet, as moisture makes it more prone to damage.

Choosing the Best Grass for Your High Traffic Lawn

Selecting the right grass for a high traffic lawn can be tricky, because the unique growing conditions and ways each lawn is used vary from one property to the next.

Best Grass for High Traffic

My best advice is that you consider factors such as where you live, how often your lawn is walked on, and how much time you have available to maintain your lawn.

Use these factors to guide you to one of the grass varieties discussed in this article and you should be able to create a functional and attractive green space for your family and friends to enjoy.

And before you go – I want to invite you to read my article comparing starting a lawn from sod vs seed. This may help you compare the cost and efficacy of each method for starting a new lawn and guide you toward the best option for your property.

At Lawn Chick, I am committed to publishing accurate, useful, and trustworthy resources for my readers. As part of this commitment, I’ve invited subject matter experts to review our articles for accuracy. I invite you to read our editorial policy and publishing standards which outlines in detail how every article on this site is sourced, edited, fact-checked, and vetted.



Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

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