Grass, Lawns and Turf
Turf is the most expensive plant you can grow in Polk County. If you don't take care of it, it will die and you will have weeds and bare spots left. The care of turf grass is time consuming and requires lots of maintenance, fertilizer, and water. But, many people like a large expanse of lawn and so turf grass is a very popular subject. Up North the most popular grasses are bluegrass and a bluegrass/fescue blend. These grasses will not grow well in our hot climate. The most popular grasses here in central Florida are St. Augustine grass, and Bahia grass. These grasses are hot weather grasses. Each has several cultivars with slightly different characteristics (some cultivars have longer or shorter blades, cold tolerance, grow better in shade or are resistant to insects or fungus).
St. Augustine grass
St. Augustine grass is the most common urban grass in central Florida. It grows in a large range of soil conditions; it has good shade tolerance (but that depends on the cultivar); it's maintenance level is moderate; it does not wear well under heavy foot traffic; and stays green all year. It is established from sod, plugs or sprigs. Once it dies it will not re-grow since its stems are above the ground.
Maintenance requirements for St. Augustinegrass
- Fertilize four (4) times per year.
- Mow weekly in the summer but less often at other times of the year.
- Irrigate as needed within the watering restrictions in force in the county.
- Watch for chinch bug and sod web worm damage and then treat.
Bahigrass is the next most common grass. It wants acid soil; it is drought tolerant but wants lots of sun light; it requires low maintenance; and it turns brown in the colder season. It can be established from sod or seed. It has underground stems which allow it to re-grow even if the grass blades above the ground are dead.
Maintenance requirements for Bahia grass
- Fertilize not more than twice (2 times) per year.
- Mow as needed.
- Irrigate seldomley.
See our Frequently Asked Questions for more detailed information and information on varieties for these and other turf grasses.
There is a wonderful alternative to turf grass. It's called Xeriscape. Xeriscape is a systematic concept for saving water in landscaped areas. For those of you who like a nice lawn, it does not eliminate all grass. It does, however, use less grass. It uses "water wise" plants: those plants that use less water. It places the correct plant in the correct place. Maintenance effort and cost are much lower than for turf. Your landscape can still be very beautiful without all the grass.
Trees, Shrubs, Grasses and Vines
As you drive or walk around the county you will see many plants you don't recognize. Often you will notice them because of the beautiful flowers. You may also be wondering what they are. While we cannot possibility list all the plants you will see, we can try to show you the most common and popular. Click on the topics below to find a description of the plant. Once you have found the plant you can do a search of the Web or go to some of our favorite links to find out more information about the plant. If you are searching the Web, we suggest you use the botanical name with which to search. You would be surprised at how many useless hits you can get on a name like "Rose" or even "Bougainvillea".