Types Of Florida Grass

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Types Of Florida Landscape Grass And Lawns

There are different variations of types of Florida landscape grass and lawns. What type that can be installed depends upon the types of Florida grass that are best suited for the location. A grass type can grow good in some area’s but not good in others. Here listed are the most common types of grass found in Florida.

Most Common Types Of Florida Grass

St. Augustine Grass

The most commonly planted turfgrass in Florida for home lawns and commercial properties. It is also used in Texas and other areas of the southern United States. Known to be native to the Mediterranean coast and Gulf of Mexico. It has adapted to warm humid conditions and sub tropical area’s of the world. St Augustine grass types can grow in many types of soils offering a dense thick green lush look. It is established by planting sod. Establishment from St. Augustine sod is quick and easy. If renovation is needed St. Augustine plugs can replace bare areas as runners from their root system will fill in a location. St. Augustine types of Florida grass are susceptible to the insect chinch bugs but can be eliminated with pesticides. St. Augustine lawns can bounce back with proper chinch bug control and treatment. St. Augustine grass should be mowed at height of 2.5-3 inches. Mowing should be done every 7 days during spring and summer, every 14 days during winter. St. Augustine grass does require proper, mowing, watering and fertilization . With proper St. Augustine grass maintenance you will have a successful vigorous green looking lawn.

St. Augustine Types Of Grass

Floratam:

Floratam St. Augustine types of Florida grass is easy to establish from sod or plugs. A widely used residential and commercial types of lawn grass. Most commonly used for home lawns of all types of  St. Augustine grass. It has vigorous growth in warm weather during spring and summer. Growth does slow down during late fall and winter months. It has a period of dormancy during winter in north Florida. Frost and cold wind in winter can turn the blades purple to brown, but will return to green when new growth appears. It does require full sun to perform at it’s best, for it does not do well in shade.

Palmetto:

Densely spreading variety that has an aggressive growth habit. It has short leaf blades with a rich green color. Palmetto does well in full sun or partial shade. It has a good tolerance for cold weather. It can sometimes have problems with disease, especially during the humid, damp summer months.

Del-Mar:

Del-Mar is dark green in color, grows well in full sun, and has the best shade tolerance of all varieties of St. Augustine grass. It has good cold tolerance and maintains excellent winter color. Del-Mar is susceptible to chinch bugs, sod webworms, and brown patch disease. It has slow lateral runner growth, so grow-in from plugging or recovery from any damage may take longer.

Seville:

Seville St. Augustine variety is a semi-dwarf, fine leaved lawn grass. It has a low dense compact growth habit, which makes it prone to thatch and shallow rooting. Seville has a dark emerald green color. It can be established quickly from sod, and plugs are fast spreading. It is also susceptible to chinch bug and webworm damage. Seville grows well in full sun and has fair shade tolerance. It can be somewhat sensitive to cold weather.

Bahia Grass:

Bahia Grass, from Brazil, began being used in United States in 1914 as a pasture grass and mostly used in the southern states where sandy soils exist. Through the years new types of lawn grass are being used for residential and commercial lawns. It is established by planting sod or from seed. Bahia is a drought tolerant…Good for infertile sandy soil… grass type. Does not form much thatch and does not need excessive fertilization.   However, Bahia Grass can turn yellow from lack of the nutrient Iron. Weed control can only be done when, adequate soil moisture is present, air temperature is between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and the lawn is not experiencing any stress. Only certain types of chemicals for weed control can be applied to Bahia Grass, it’s important to always read the label on any herbicide or “weed-feed” before applying it. Do Not use any weed chemical not listed for usage on Bahia. Applying the wrong type of herbicide and applied incorrectly, will result in severe damage to a Bahia lawn or eventually killing it. Bahia grass is not tolerant of salt water. It also does not tolerate any excessive amounts of foot traffic. Bahia Grass does not do well in shade, it requires full sun. Bahia Grass should be mowed at a height of 3-4 inches during active growth. Bahia Grass can be difficult to mow when wet compared to other types of grass. It requires weekly mowing during summer months. 

Bahia Types Of Grass

Common:

Common type of Bahia grass is light in color, course in texture, with an open and sparse growth habit. It is very susceptible to cold temperatures. Normally it is not recommended for usage as a home lawn. Generally used for roadside planting by the state or counties.

Argentine:

Argentine type of Bahia Grass is dense, thick, dark green in color, and is good for lawn use in many situations. It is cold tolerant and has the highest, insect and disease resistance of all types of Bahia grass. Argentine is the best choice for a home lawn of all the types of Bahia Grass. 

Pensacola:

Pensacola Bahia Grass tolerates both hot or cold temperatures. It has excellent drought tolerance due to it’s extensive root system. It has longer and narrower leaf blades than Argentine. Because of it’s abundance of seed heads it is more suitable for roadside plantings, less desirable for home lawn usage.

Paraguay:

Paraguay also known as “Texas Bahia Grass”, has short, tough, hairy leaves that have a grayish tint. It is not cold tolerant and can have problems with dollar spot disease. It does not perform as well as Argentine or Pensacola.

Zoysia Grass:

Several varieties of Zoysia grass are used for residential and commercial landscapes. Empress variety can be used for home lawns, plus athletic fields and golf courses. Zoysia grass can grow in different types of soils, handles full sun, and has good shade tolerance. Establishment is done by planting sod. Once established it is a dense turf, that can resist most weeds, and requires less mowing than other types of turf due to it’s slower growth rate. It can be mowed by using a rotary mower. Zoysia grass mowed with a rotary mower should be done at a height of 2-3 inches. New lawns with Zoysia grass may take longer to establish than other types of Florida grass, sometimes up to two growing seasons. Zoysia grass usually requires higher and more frequent fertilization than other types of turf, especially when the soil is low in potassium. It has a low drought tolerance due to it’s shallow root system, and will recover slow from drought damage. Zoysia grass can be prone to Nematodes and several types of diseases. When properly maintained, Zoysia grass makes an excellent turf for home lawns. It is recommend to have a professional lawn care company maintain it for best results.

Zoysia Types Of Lawn Grass

Meyer:

Meyer has long been the standard Zoysia grass that is used for home lawns and commercial properties. It has a deep green color, medium leaf texture, and spreads quicker than other varieties of Zoysia. It has less shade tolerance than some of the other varieties. It is a good cold- tolerant Zoysia grass. Meyer makes an excellent turf after being established.

EL Toro:

EL Toro Zoysia grass resembles Meyer but has a faster rate of establishment, improved cool-season color, tolerates cold better, and has less thatch buildup. It has increased shade tolerance and a better resistance to rust disease than Meyer. EL Toro also greens-up quicker during early spring. Used for residential and commercial properties.

Empire:

Empire Zoysia grass is dark green in color with a wide leaf blade, and has an open growth habit. It establishes good, has aggressive growth once established, and performs well in sandy or clay soil types. Because of it’s broader leaf and open growth habit, it can be mowed by using a standard rotary mower offering a good cut and appearance. Empire Zoysia is great for home lawns. Very popular for residential properties.

Empress:

Empress Zoysia grass unlike Empire, is used for it’s fine-bladed texture and tight growth habit. It also has a nice green color. Empress is best suited where a fine, small-leaved, soft-textured turf is desired. It is capable of handling heavy foot traffic. It is widely used for home lawns, golf courses, and for usage on athletic fields.

Centipede Grass:

The most common types of Florida grass used for homes in the Panhandle of Florida. It is well adapted to the climate and soil conditions of northern Florida, where it is generally used. However, it is also found to be used in some of the most northern central regions of the state. Nematode damage has limited the usage of it in south Florida’s sandy soil. Because of it’s small region of usage, not many types have been developed. Contact the local county extension service in your area for varieties of cultivars available. Established Centipede grass is a low maintenance turfgrass, and has less fertility requirements. Centipede grass is naturally lighter in color than other lawn grasses, and yellowing can occur during early spring, when daytime temperatures are warm and night time temperatures are still cool. As the soil becomes warmer temporary yellowing will end. Do Not over-fertilize it with nitrogen to turn it darker green. This causes it to be less cold tolerant and have excessive maintenance problems. Problems from over-fertilization such as diseases can occur during springtime, causing dead patches if left untreated. Treatment with a liquid fungicide on diseased areas will be needed to stop dead patches from happening. Centipede grass can be established by seed, sod, or plugs. Sodding establishes a lawn more quickly and makes it less susceptible to various stresses. For seeding use a good quality Centipede grass seed, with a purity of 90% or better and a minimum of 85% germination. The best time to sod or seed is from April to July to allow a full growing season for establishment, and to avoid cold damage during the winter. Centipede grass that is actively growing needs to be mowed every 7-14 days at a height of 1.5 to 2.5 inches to keep it attractive and healthy. It is a slow growing turfgrass that grows close to the ground and is medium in texture. Centipede grass has fair shade tolerance and requires full sun to stay healthy and vigorous.

Bermuda Grass:

Bermudagrass has been well adapted to the climates and soils found in Florida and southern states. It produces a vigorous, medium green, dense turf. It can be established quickly and is available as sod or plugs. It has excellent wear, can handle drought conditions, and has good salt tolerance. It does well in full sun or partial shade.

There are two types of Bermudagrass: “Improved Bermudagrass” and  “Common Bermudagrass”.

Improved Bermudagrass:

Improved Bermudagrass is a fine-textured, soft, durable, dense turf. It is used in the south on golf courses, athletic fields, and in some residential and commercial properties. It is often found in landscapes as a home lawngrass for high- profile homes. Improved Bermudagrass is a high maintenance turf, due to the requirements and amount of care needed for it be at it’s best. When used as a home lawngrass, it is recommended having a professional lawn care company to maintain it properly. When maintained correctly it is a beautiful turfgrass, homeowners use it for that “golf course look”.

Common Bermudagrass:

Common Bermudagrass varieties are course-leaved, and not as a high quality turf as Improved Bermudagrass. It is lighter green in color and not as soft as the fine-textured Improved type of Bermuda. Common Bermudagrass does not require the same attention,  high amount of care and maintenance as Improved. Common does not need the same amount of fertilization and watering as Improved. It is good for when a less costly type of Bermuda is desired, while less quality and appearance is acceptable. Common Bermudagrass is often found in pastures and along roadsides.

Seashore Paspalum:

Seashore Paspalum types of Florida grass is becoming more popular in coastal regions. It is planted as a home lawn and for usage on golf courses. It can be watered by using poor quality water and is extremely salt tolerant, which makes it an excellent type of grass for growing along seawalls. Seashore Paspalum grows best in the summer months in warmer climates. It needs to be established by planting sod. It can maintain a consistent dark green color, with less fertilizer treatments than other types of turf. It can receive heavy amounts of rainfall, which makes it great for tropical areas such as south Florida and the Keys. Seashore Paspalum does need to have thatching done every year for it to grow at it’s best. It needs to be mowed at a level of 2 inches on a weekly basis. Weed control needs to be done by only using chemicals that are labeled for it. These are most common types of Florida grass. They can be found in other areas of southern states. Each has it’s own characteristics and adaptability. These lawn tips will help in making the choice for what types of lawn grass is best for you. Author, Kurt Kmetz  

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Jack
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Jack

Kurt,
I live south of Lake Wales, FL with a large steep yard down to a lake. What grass would be best for handling the following: a good amount of water flow during rainy season, water restrictions (2x/week), full sun, golf cart traffic to the lake and I don’t want much/if any fertilizer to runoff into the lake?
Thanks for the help,
Jack

Kurt
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Kurt

Jack, The common types of turf used for hone lawns in Florida, St. Augustinegrass, Bahiagrass, Zoysiagrass, can each handle the water and sun conditions you have mentioned. However, St. Augustinegrass and Bahiagrass will not tolerate continuous (excessive amounts) of golf cart traffic. A type of Zoysiagrass named “Empress” which is used for some athletic fields and golf courses, might be more tolerant of golf cart traffic. Bermudagrass which is mostly used on golf courses, athletic fields in central and south Florida is best suited for golf cart traffic. Plus, can handle full sun and various watering conditions. It is also… Read more »

Steve
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Steve

I have a grass that grew very fast. It has a broad leaf, shallow rood system which seems to hold a lot do water. It kind of looks like bean sprouts. What is it and is it a weed or a fast growing grass ? Also I pulled some out last year and it seems to have grown back.

Kurt
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Kurt

Steve, Since I can’t inspect your lawn it is hard for me to determine exactly what is growing in your yard. Judging by your description it could be crabgrass, or a type of broadleaf weed. If it is crabgrass it can grow back each year even if you pulled it out. It is best to stop crabgrass from growing by stoping the seeds from germinating in the spring. There are products available at garden centers you can apply. If it is a broad leaf weed like dollar weed it can also grow back by just pulling it out. Weeds are… Read more »

Lisa B
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Lisa B

I have mostly part shade but a couple of intense sun areas where I would like to lay sod. The soil is black and sandy. I was going to turn some black cow into the soil before laying the sod.
I’m thinking palmetto st augustine. Do you think this is the best choice? I live in Ft Lauderdale.

Kurt
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Kurt

Lisa, Palmetto St. Augustine sounds like a good choice, as long as the part shade areas are getting filtered sunlight a good part of the day. It will do fine in the intense sun areas. It does require proper care such as fertilization, disease control, insect control, and weed control for it to be at it’s best. I recommend having a reputable certified professional lawn care company maintain it on a regular basis. You really don’t need to put down “Black Cow” prior to installation, since St. Augustine grows well in sandy soil conditions. Plus, you don’t want to put… Read more »

Mike
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Mike

Kurt, I have been having a problem with my grass dying in my backyard and need to replace the sod, not sure which sod is best. The grass gets partial sun/shade. This is where my dog uses the bathroom, does this kill the grass. Also gets flooded in this area during heavy rain.

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Mike, Pet urine does damage turf eventually leading to it dying. At first spots will turn yellow, then become brown. Continuous flooding will eventually damage any type of grass. It sounds like this area has poor drainage. Areas in lawns with poor drainage will have problems. Poor drainage is usually due to the grading of the area, or the condition of the soil. If the area has improper grading, it needs to be regraded to improve drainage. Sand can be put down to help the condition of the soil to improve drainage. Palmetto St. Augustine grass does well in partial… Read more »

Bill
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Bill

I am in south Floridaand have a very shaded area with oak trees.

Now im putting mulch every year. What kind of grass would work, I have a good watering system

Thanks

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Bill, It is hard to grow turf directly underneath large oak trees. Most types of grass will be thin and sparse in areas with extreme shade conditions. There is a type of St. Augustine Grass named Del-Mar that has better shade tolerance than most types of turf. Perhaps you can try it and have better results, but there is no guarantee that it will be problem free. I have seen some homeowners have it and it does well, while others not as successful. One alternative to turf, is to install shade tolerant ground cover plants. Instead of having lawn areas… Read more »

Lyn
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Lyn

Dear Kurt, I have a mini patch of grass in my small backyard (4′ X 12′) which I care for like treasure; it gets good sunlight, my Yorkies do not urinate it because I have a small fence around it, I fertilize it, I treat it for grubs and etc. I water it, I mow it to standard length, I literally sit by it and watch it grow yet, the grass gets yellow, dries up and dies 🙁 The soil is all sand but I did spread a layer of top soil before setting the sod … what can be… Read more »

Kurt
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Kurt

Lyn,
The problem could be a fungus disease. A fungus will cause extreme yellowing in a lawn and eventually the area will die off.

Treat it with a liquid fungicide two times, two weeks apart. Do not water after applying it.

Fungus problems can be caused by watering too much.

Hopefully this will solve the problem.

Kurt

Ben
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Ben

Hello,
Having a hard time with this as it seems every other website recommends something different. I am looking to lay sod in my backyard, I want something that is not hard to maintain and is soft. The main purpose is for my children to play on so i want it strong but soft. This is also why i REALLY don’t want st Augustine. Zoysia scares me because i heard of fungus. I was thinking of Bermuda?
My back yard is mostly sunny but sandy, I have a sprinkler system. Do you have a recommendation?

Kurt
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Kurt

Ben, If you are thinking of installing Bermuda, here is some information pertaining to the two different types that are used in Florida. The fine-textured “Improved Bermudagrass” that is recommended as a home lawn grass, plus can handle heavy foot traffic is considered high maintenance, therefore it is recommended to have a professional lawn care company maintain it. It is also used on Athletic fields. There are varieties of “Common Bermudagrass” that do not require a lot maintenance that can handle foot traffic, but these are course-leaved not fine textured. They are mostly used in pastures and roadsides. St. Augustine… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Kurt,
We just relocated to Jacksonville from Oahu, HI. In Hawaii, I fell in love with Seashore Paspalm. Is the Seashore grass listed as Paspalcum the same? I sodded our yard, in Ewa Bch, HI, and I had to use a reel cutter type of mower, but all the listed characteristics seem to be the same. Is this an option for a Jax lawn? It had great color, and was like carpet! Appreciate your input. Mahalo!

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Kate, I believe it could be the same type of lawn turf as you had in Hawaii, sometimes it is called by either name. I’m not quite sure if it would be a good choice for the Jacksonville area. It is more of a warm season grass and is generally used in South Florida. I live in the Tampa Bay area and very rarely I have seen it used by homeowners. The ones that do I have observed during the winter the grass would turn brown, and mostly stay brown all winter. Even with fertilizer applied it would not green… Read more »

Michelle Gillet
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Michelle Gillet

Hi I live in the Fort Lauderdale area of South Florida and have a large corner lot which get a lot of heavy foot traffic with kids running and playing.
From about 11am to 4pm it gets full sun.
What would be the best type of grass to handle the sun and heavy traffic. Not worried about texture.

JB
Guest
JB

What seed would grow well in Southwest Florida? I live in Naples on a couple acres and don’t want to use sod because it would be a fortune. I’ve tried Bahia and it came in thinly but is easily overtaken by weeds it seems. Not a big fan of at St Augustine, anything else that might be a good idea? Have sprinklers so plenty of water. Thanks for your advice!

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Michelle,
A type of Zoysia grass named “Empress” is used when a turf for heavy foot traffic conditions is needed. It is widely planted in Florida for usage on athletic fields, as well as for home lawns. It can handle full sun throughout the day. With proper care and maintenance it is a beautiful turf for residential properties. It is established and grows best by planting sod.

Kurt

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

JB, I understand your desire not to plant sod due to the size of your property. Since St. Augustine is planted by sod or plugs you probably would have to buy truckloads, of pallets of sod or trays of plugs. I know what you mean about Bahia, it can be thin and therefore weeds can overrun it. One type of grass I can suggest is Zoysia “Japonica” which is the only type of Zoysia grown by seed. However, it generally does not produce a high quality turf as the sodded or plugged varieties. It is used when convenience of seeding… Read more »

Joe Palladini
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Joe Palladini

Hi Kurt, my wife and I just had a home built. The lawn was as installed with sod. How can we tell what type of grass it is?

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Joe,
Contact the landscaping company that installed the lawn, for information on what type of turf they put down. If you don’t know the name of the landscaper, the builder or developer should be able to give you information on how to reach them. If this is one of many homes built in a new development, whether a residential or commercial property, chances are all homes should have had the same type of grass installed.

Kurt

kimber tracy
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kimber tracy

I am looking to put in a lawn in my yard in the Florida Keys. I’m located on an open canal in the lower keys so there is some salt exposure, and of course the under structure is very dense marl resulting in poor drainage. We are planning on laying a 2-3″ 50/50 mixture of sand & top soil prior to throwing the sod. The area to be sodded is about 3500 sq.ft. with a mixture of shade, partial shade & full sun. We have two large dogs so there will be urine exposure regularly. We would ideally like to… Read more »

Dolly
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Dolly

Kurt,
Can you please help me choose the right SOD to instal in my backyard where I have at Augustine and want a much softer golf course like grass with less maintenance where my kids can play. I live in the new Tampa cross creek area. I want to know which kind is the softest grass I can have

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Dolly, A fine textured soft grass that is durable, is a turf called “Improved Bermudagrass”. It is used in Florida on golf courses and athletic fields. I have also seen it used as a lawngrass for homes in the Tampa Bay area. However, it does require proper maintenance for it to be at it’s best. It generally needs to be fertilized more often than turf such as St. Augustine. Even though it can be cared for by the homeowner, most people hire a certified professional lawn care company to maintain it. To have a golf course type grass that can… Read more »

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

kimber tracy, A type of turf that is very salt tolerant, and can handle poor drainage is “Seashore Paspalum”. It is great for the tropical climate and conditions that the Florida Keys experiences. It is a softer type of grass than other types of turf. It does do best in areas with full sun, but does not tolerate full shade to well, as most types of turf don’t do well in shade either. You might want to consider using turf in the areas with full sun, and planting shade tolerant ground cover plants in the other areas. This is a… Read more »

Sharon
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Sharon

We are in flood conditions in Pasco County. I have St. Augustine grass that has been submerged for 4-5 days and will probably be covered for several more days. What is the likelyhood of the grasses’ survival and after the water has receded can I how can I help it survive?

Sharon

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Sharon, When St. Augustine grass is submerged in water for many days or weeks it probably will experience some problems. It can get fungus problems, plus some if not all can completely die off. After the area has completely drained and dried out, grass that has survived needs to be treated immediately by spraying it thoroughly with liquid fungicide. Repeat treatment 2 times 10 days apart. Try to keep the area dry during this time and for one week after entire treatment is finished. This will help in saving as much as you can. I know all about the continuous… Read more »

bob
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bob

I have floratam in my lawn (along with some crab-grass) and also another grass that turns brown every dec. and winds up as brown patches. I usually have to thatch it out with a rake and the grass is thin-leaf and dead. do you have any idea what this stuff is or where it came from? thanks, Bob

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Bob, Since I don’t see your lawn in person now or year round, it is hard for me to determine exactly what you have in your lawn that turns brown every December when cold weather arrives. However. what you have could possibly be Wild Bermuda grass. It will turn brown during winter and looks like it has died off, only to return when winter is over and be green again. Unwanted grass that gets mixed in with lawns can happen when, lawn maintenance companies do not keep up with cleaning the under sides of their mowers. They can pick up… Read more »