Whether you’ve just moved into a new home and need a new lawn or have decided that it’s time to replace your current one, keep in mind that you have choices when selecting your grass. The trouble is deciding what’s best for the climate here in Florida. Before you do any planting, consider factors like your area’s conditions, irrigation options and soil’s pH levels. Here’s a guide to help you make the best choice for your lawn.
Choosing the Best Grass Types for Your Yard
Florida is a great place to live with its temperate climate, ocean accessibility and abundance of green spaces. However, it’s tough to choose the best grass for your yard because there are several good options that are available.
To choose the best one for you, review the pros and cons of the different grass options for Florida. Consider how much time you have available for lawn care and how much you enjoy yard work. Also, think about your end goal for a lawn.
How is Florida Soil Different from Others?
Florida soil is different from other states because it has a higher concentration of sand. Much of the state features a type of fine, gray soil called Myakka, which is an Indian word that means “big waters.”
Myakka covers more than 1 ½ million acres of land in the state. In fact, it is the state’s official soil. Before choosing and planting your grass, consider getting a pH assessment of your property’s soil. This will determine its acidity levels, helping you select a grass type that will thrive in your yard.
How to Prepare Florida Soil for Grass
When you’re dealing with sandy soil, the goal is to modify it so that it can retain more water. Sandy soil also needs a higher nutrient content for plants to thrive. Ingredients like composted yard waste, broken-down animal manure, peat and vermiculite blended into your soil will help you create a healthy environment for your grass.
Vermiculite and peat work to improve your dirt’s water retention while yard waste and manure provide additional nutrients. Most plants send their roots down about 6 inches into the soil, so be sure to focus your preparation efforts on this dirt layer. Mix the additional ingredients into the soil before planting. Try to add more each year.
Common Types of Grass to Grow in Florida
The most common types of grass that people grow in Florida are:
- St. Augustine
- Seashore Paspalum
1. St. Augustine Grass
St. Augustine grass is a popular choice in Florida. It thrives in the heat, slaps away drought and thumbs its nose at salt. When you give it lots of water, it will form into a lovely turf layer featuring broad flat blades of grass that present a pretty blue-green hue.
If you want to establish a lawn quickly, consider choosing St Augustine grass. This type of grass is happy in all kinds of soil, and it shoots up above-ground runners for better growth. The downside to St Augustine is that once it’s established, it grows a little too quickly. If you choose St Augustine, get ready to mow.
St Augustine grass isn’t a fan of chilly weather or shade, so if you’re located in a cooler part of the state, then you might want to choose a different type of grass. St. Augustine is also more susceptible to pests and the SAD virus.
2. Buffalo Grass
You’ll love the blue-green shade of Buffalo grass. This type of grass does well in hot climates, and it will likely remain a beautiful shade of green throughout the year without requiring you to maintain it differently than you would any other lawn.
Consider Buffalo grass if your yard receives a lot of sun and doesn’t have great soil. If your yard features a good amount of shade, then you’ll want to choose a different kind of grass.
Buffalo grass will grow well in areas that have low to medium amounts of foot traffic. Also, to keep this type of grass looking its best, avoid overwatering it.
3. Bermuda Grass
Bermuda grass is a pretty shade of greenish gray, and it comes up as short grass blades that feature rough edges. Bermuda grass sends its roots down deep, making it drought resistant. It will also stand firm against weeds and in high traffic areas.
The problem with Bermuda grass is that it is highly invasive, which means that it will make itself at home in your flowerbeds. It grows fast, but it doesn’t like chilly temperatures or shade.
4. Bahia Grass
Bahia grass is a great type of grass to choose because it will give you a lovely green lawn, one that resists stress, handles cooler temperatures, is okay with the sun and stays looking green during drought conditions.
Consider planting this type of grass if you don’t have access to irrigation. The only drawbacks to choosing it is that it needs plenty of mowing and allows weeds to creep in. You can expect to mow a lawn of Bahia grass about once a week.
5. Centipede Grass
Centipede grass is a light green shade, and it likes growing in sandy soil with a high acidity level. It is a popular option for Florida lawns because of its ability to thrive in the soil. When you compare it to other types of grass, Centipede grass grows slowly. The good thing about a grass that develops slowly is that it requires less mowing.
This type of grass doesn’t need as much fertilizer as other varieties. If you plant Centipede grass in high foot traffic areas, it may become damaged, so consider how much people will be standing or walking on it if you’re considering it. Also, if there are extended drought periods, then Centipede grass may go dormant.
6. Seashore Paspalum
Seashore Paspalum is a common grass type for golf courses, but it is also a good option for residential lawns. The reason people love it is because it is resistant to salt. It is great for yards with poor irrigation too.
Seashore Paspalum thrives in the summer. It also does well with a lot of rain, so this makes it ideal for those who live in central or southern Florida.
This is a grass type that comes up fast, so you will need to mow it about once a week. In most cases, it only requires fertilization twice a year. It is the perfect option for yards with certain soil conditions. Seashore Paspalum is especially great for those who live near the ocean.
7. Zoysia Grass
Zoysia grass is a medium green to dark green grass, and it is one that will thrive in both sunny yards and shady ones. Zoysia grass is another slow growing grass, so if you don’t love mowing, then it’s a good choice. This type of grass is low maintenance. This means that you won’t have to water it or fertilize it as much as other grass varieties. It also handles a fair amount of foot traffic.
The only reasons not to choose Zoysia grass is if you don’t love its color, can’t afford it or need a grass variety that will develop fast. If you take care of this kind of grass, it will resist weed growth and many plant diseases.
Best Warm Season Grass for Florida
The best warm season grasses for Florida are St Augustine, Centipede, Seashore Paspalum and Zoysia.
Best Cool Season Grass for Florida
The best cool season grasses for Florida include Bahia grass, Perennial ryegrass and Tall Fescue.
FAQs About Types of Grass in Florida
What Is the Best Grass to Grow in Florida?
The best grass for Florida depends on what area you’re in and how you typically use your lawn. If you have kids who will be playing outside year-round, then you’ll want a sturdy grass that can handle a lot of traffic. However, if you dislike mowing, then the best grass for you will be one that develops at a slower pace.
Which Grass Is Better Zoysia or Saint Augustine?
The benefits of Zoysia grass include its low-maintenance and ability to handle high traffic areas while St Augustine develops quickly and loves shade.
Zoysia grass has a higher price tag than St. Augustine grass. If you’re on a tight budget, then this will be a consideration. However, if you want a lawn that you’ll love walking on, then the higher price tag may be worth it. Keep in mind that St Augustine grass features a rugged feel.
What Grass Grows Year-Round in Florida?
Because of its warm climate, most grasses grow year-round in Florida. However, grass may develop more slowly when the temperature dips below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
What Is the Softest Grass for Florida?
The softest grass for Florida residents includes Bahia grass, Bermuda grass, Centipede grass and Zoysia grass. When it’s time to choose the best grass for your home, consider working with a professional company. That way, you can avoid making an expensive mistake that involves replacing the grass with something else. Once established, be sure to hire a professional lawn care company to keep it looking its best.