Types of Florida Lawns
There are very few grasses used in our lawns today that are actually native to America and specifically Florida. Most were imported from various parts of the world and have since been bred and cross-bred and genetically altered to become more suitable to various climates, to be resistant to disease and insects, and to be esthetically appealing. Although there are quite a few varieties available, listed are only the most common grass types in Central Florida: Bermuda, Bahia, and St Augustine.
- Cold Tolerance: good
- Shade Tolerance:: poor
- Watering: Drought tolerant, but needs water to remain green
- Planting: seed, sod, plugs, or sprigs
- Common Problems: mole crickets, sod webworms, dollar spot
Extremely Common in the wild and in our lawns, Bermuda grass is easily established and can be grown from seed or sprig. Bermuda grass is used most often in parks, large commercial complexes, and of course, is the turf of choice for golf courses. It is also drought resistant. Throughout central Florida, it is very common to see ‘blow in’ areas of Bermuda popping up in St Augustine lawns. Sprigs and clippings from nearby golf courses are easily carried by the wind and will quickly take root in other lawns in the area.
Bahiagrass is resistant to drought and most insect and disease damage. It is considered a low maintenance turf grass, which will grow rapidly, especially in hotter months with plenty of water. Although it may grow in a variety of soils. It does not fare well in soils with high Ph values or along sandy embankements.
- Cold Tolerance: poor
- Shade tolerance: moderate
- Watering: low, and survives drought but does well in soggy areas as well.
- Planting: seed or sod
- Mowing Height: 2″ – 4″ Mow regularly to avoid the numerous tall seed heads that pop up.
- Common Problems: brown patch, dollar spot, mole crickets
St. Augustine Grass
St. Augustine grass is the most widely used grass in Central Florida. It is excellent for coastal regions, thrives in heat, does poorly in cool climates. Excellent to fair under drought conditions. Moderately good under heavy foot traffic. Somewhat shade tolerant. Can be used in moist, semi-fertile soils. At the moment, most common installation method is sodding or plugs; seeds are very difficult to germenate and bring to sprig.
St Augustine has a very coarse texture but grows very dense and provides a ‘padded’ texture under foot. It spreads rapidly via stolons or ‘runners’ and has a very shallow root structure compared to some other grasses. There are a variety of St Augustine grasses available each having unique qualities depending on the environment they are used. It is a high thatch producer and requires periodic aeriation for best results.
NOTE: St Augustine is different than colder climate grasses like Bermuda and Bahia. Some weed & feed products can actual kill or harm St Augustine. Ensure your product is for ‘St Augustine’ before applying.
- Cold Tolerance: Poor
- Shade Tolerance: moderate, but will become thin under dense shade conditions.
- Planting: sod or plugs
- Watering: regular watering but is adaptive to various conditions over time.
- Mowing Height: 2″ — 4″
- Common Problems: grubs, chinch bugs, mole crickets, sod webworms, fungus, disease
Varieties of St. Augustine:
Floratam: Most common among homeowners. Floratam requires a lot of sun and is tolerant to a variety of soils.
Bitter-Blue: A better choice for partially shaded lawns, grows slower than other varieties and is less susceptible to cold.
Palmetto: Newly adapted, Palmetto is becoming more popolar throughout Central Florida especially in intercoastal waterway areas. It prefers warm weather but fares well in cold. It is also more resistant to chinch bug damage. Good in full-sun or partial shade.
Sapphire: The hardier of all St. Augustine varieties and not as common. It has a softer texture, deeper color, shade and drought tolerant, and requires less fertilization. It also is known to recover and adapt to change quickly, and is less susceptible to weed encrouchment.
Seville: Very dark, deep blue-green in color. It also has a longer leaf structure which many prefer for esthetic value. It has a much higher tolerance to shade so is often preferred and florishes in well established wooded areas.