Best Turf Grass
What is the best Turf Grass for Central Florida
There is no "best" turf grass for central Florida. Each of the grasses have pluses and minuses.
Before deciding on the type of grass you want you should ask yourself some questions:
What do you expect of the lawn? Is it a showplace or do you just want something to cover the ground?
How much maintenance do you want to spend on the lawn? This includes mowing, watering, fertilizing, trimming, and watching for bugs, fungus and disease.
Do you want to hire an expensive lawn service?
Are there physical or environmental limitations to the area you will be using? Examples of limitations are:
- There is no irrigation system and you do not want to install one.
- The area would be hard to mow.
- The area or part of the area is in deep shade.
- The soil pH is very low or very high.
- The area is very wet.
There are three popular grasses for lawns: St Augustinegrass, Bahiagrass and Zoysiagrass and two specialized grasses: Bermudagrass and Carpetgrass. There are many varieties of the most common of these grasses. We will describe some of the advantages and disadvantages of these grasses. Note: different varieties of the grasses will be better or worse for a particular area.
St. Augustinegrass is the most common urban grass in central Florida. It is a lawn grass that is adapted to warm, humid weather and so grows well here despite all the insects and fungus that also grow here. It grows well in a wide variety of soils but grows best in well-drained, fertile soil. Many people like the looks of this grass in their yard. The most common varieties are Bitterblue, Floratam, Delmar, Palmetto and Seville. The first two are considered tall varieties, while the last three are semi-dwarf.
- It has a dark green to blue-green color and a very dense growing pattern that many people like.
- Some cultivars will tolerate shade better than any other grass in Florida.
- Both sod and plugs are easily available at local garden stores and centers.
- The course texture is objectionable to some people.
- It requires a lot of irrigation especially in the hot weather.
- It requires fertilizing four times per year.
- During the summer you will find it necessary to mow every five to seven days.
- Excessive thatch can build up when fertilized too much or irrigated too often.
- It wears poorly when there is heavy foot traffic.
- It has many insect and fungal problems. The primary insect problem is the chinch bug.
- It has a stem that is above the ground. If the leaves turn brown and die, the plant will not re-grow, like some grasses.
- Must be propagated from sod, sprigs or plugs.
Bahigrass is the next most common grass. It was originally used as a pasture grass in poor sandy soils. It turns brown in the colder season. It can be established from sod or seed. The most common varieties are Common, Pensacola, Argentine and Paraguay.
Zoysiagrass is not very common in central Florida. Many people consider it the most beautiful lawn grass in the south. It is very dense and uniform with fine blades and grows in a wide variety of soil conditions. For the best appearance it requires a lot of maintenance. It is established from sod, plugs or sprigs.
- It is tolerant to shade, but not as much as some varieties of St. Augistinegrass.
- It has excellent wear resistance.
- Once established it grows slowly requiring less mowing than other grasses.
- Must be propagated from sod, prigs or plugs.
- It established very slowly often taking two seasons and is slow to recover from damage.
- Another consequence of its slow growth is that it heals slowly when injured.
- It requires monthly fertilizing.
- For the best appearance it should be mowed with a reel mower.
- It has heavy thatch and will require periodic renovation.
- It has shallow roots and so can be damaged easily.
- It must be irrigated often.
- It is susceptible to nematodes, hunting billbugs and several diseases.
- It is not easy to obtain as most garden center and stores do not carry it.
Carpetgrass is used mainly in wet areas. It grows in the shade but not well, wants acid soil, and does not wear well to foot traffic. It requires fertilizing four times per year, weekly mowing, and irrigation as needed. It is established from seeds or sprigs.
Bermudagrass is used primarily for athletic fields and golf courses. It handles a lot of foot traffic, grows in a wide variety of soil conditions, and wants a lot of sun. It requires monthly fertilizing, mowing twice per week, and frequent irrigation. It is established from sod, sprigs, plugs, or seed.
If you think the disadvantages of all of the available grass varieties outweigh the advantages, then we suggest Xeriscaping using low maintenance, drought tolerant, "water-wise" plants or an alternate ground cover. For more information on xeriscaping see out Favorite Links section and the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program. For information on groundcovers see the Frequently Asked Questions concerning ground covers for some recommendations.