One of the most famous lawns in the USA is getting a facelift. Workers are laying new sod at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the home of every president since John Adams in 1800.

    The decision to spend nearly $80,000 to replace the lawn comes after President Trump held events on the White House South Lawn and in the Rose Garden during the Republican National Convention (RNC). 

    Large crowds and heavy equipment during that last week of August did quite a number on the existing grass. The White House hasn’t disclosed the type of sod currently in place, but in the past, tall fescue has been the choice because it stands up to heavy traffic.

    Both the White House and the National Park Service Capital Region confirm tax dollars will not pay for the renovations. Instead, they’ll be paid for with campaign donations to the president’s re-election campaign.

    But what about your yard? What about the sod you have now and how does it weather a lot of traffic? 

    Best Sod for Your Yard

    Bungalow in Louisville, Kentucky / W.Marsh / CC BY-SA

    Tall Fescue 

    While your own lawn isn’t under the watchful eyes of the nation, your neighborhood probably keeps tabs on it. If lawn parties or children playing cause heavy foot traffic in your yard, tall fescue is a great choice, just as it is at the White House. Its dense root system and strong blades make it resistant to wear and tear.

    Tall fescue is a course-textured turfgrass that stands up to a lot of use and offers a dense covering of grass. It’s a cool-season grass that generally does best in the northern half of the country, but adapts to a variety of climates.

    In moderate temperatures, this heat- and drought-tolerant turfgrass stays green year-round. Tall fescue also does well in partially shaded areas. New turf varieties of tall fescue form thick lawns with even more tolerance to heavy traffic.

    There aren’t many drawbacks to tall fescue but it is vulnerable to brown patch disease in hot, humid climates. Its growth pattern also makes it tough for this species to self-repair if damaged by heavy lawn use.


    Sod farm / Jwarp / Public domain

    If you’re looking for a warm-season grass (which thrives in the southern half of the country) that does well in heavy foot traffic, as well as heat and direct sunlight, Zoysia is your best bet. This slow grower eventually creates a dense carpet of grass. That thickness helps it tolerate heavy use. It heals itself and will fill in if damaged.

    Zoysia thrives in full sun and also tolerates moderate shade. Its density helps choke out weeds. Zoysia does well in drought conditions. Like tall fescue, it has a deep root system.

    Zoysia may turn brown and straw-like in dry weather but usually turns green again when watered. As an added benefit, it’s slow growth means less mowing!

    There are few disadvantages to Zoysia. It can go from green to brown at the first sign of cooler weather and it’s susceptible to thatch problems.

    Depending on where you live, tall fescue or Zoysia will give you the lush, beautiful lawn you want if your yard sees a lot of use. 

    Keep in mind: Even the sturdiest turf has a tough time standing up to 1,500 campaign supporters, dozens of reporters and heavy duty spotlights.

    Looking for someone to mow your Washington, D.C.-area lawn or someone to lay new sod in your yard? Find a pro to take care of your lawn on our Washington, D.C., lawn care page.

    Main Image Credit: White House South Lawn / Mark Skrobola (MCS@flickr) / CC BY