Here in Southwest Florida, it is important to choose the right grass for your lawn to be sure it can withstand the weather. For our region it is imperative to choose from the following types, Bermuda, St. Augustine (Floratam), Bahiagrass, and Zoysia. All these types of grasses can tolerate the unique climate of Florida, including rainy season, extreme heat, and no cold season.
Bermuda grass can handle a lot of foot traffic as well as full sunlight. It tends to require a lot of mowing since it is a fast grower. If you do not enjoy spending a couple of days a week behind the push mower during rainy season, maybe Bermuda grass would not be the best choice. This grass does experience a dormant period in the winter months, but as soon as late Spring picks up, this grass will come back to life. This option is viable to spread by using seed on top of the soil as the grass has both stolons and rhizomes. Bermuda grass appreciates soil with a pH of anything between 5.7-7.0 alkalinity. Bermuda grass can be watered once a week for a short period of time during rainy season and twice a week during dry season.
St. Augustine grass, also known as Floratam, is a great choice for Southwest Florida homes. It thrives in tropical climates and offers thick blades that grow along runners. This type of grass is known to handle shade better than other grasses as well. If you own a property that is close to the salty ocean air, St. Augustine can tolerant high salinity environments and pH levels from 5.0-8.5. Typically, when installing this grass, it is best to use plugs or sod as seeds do not cultivate easily on top of the soil. When watering, let the soil become saturated but do not allow the area to flood as this will invite disease and rot.
Another type of grass that is common in Southwest Florida is Bahiagrass. Bahiagrass thrives in tropical regions and even in sandy soils. It offers a deep root system that can handle an occasional drought while still providing your lawn with a dense turf. The blades are more thin than other varieties and they tend to be a darker green. To encourage deeper roots, mow when the blades are 2-3 inches long to promote stress tolerance. This grass enjoys soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5 and may experience an iron deficiency with anything over 7.0. Water Bahiagrass as needed but be careful to not overwater as this will turn the grass a yellow color.
The final type of grass suitable for Southwest Florida is Zoysia grass. This grass variety is dark green, tends to grow shorter than other types, and is a finer texture. Zoysia grass grows in a dense and manicured manner providing a low maintenance lawn. This species grows slower and may develop thatch, a loose, intermingled organic layer of dead and living shoots, stems, and roots that develops between the zone of green vegetation and the soil surface. Thatch can be prevented by mowing at the recommended height of 2-4 inches. Leaving the trimmings on the turf will not harm the grass but will decompose into microorganisms. If thatch does occur, scalping the lawn right after or during spring growth may clean up any buildup. Zoysia likes soil with a pH of anything below 7.0. You may water this grass on an as needed basis, if the blades of the grass are beginning to fold, water until the soil is saturated. If over or under watered, Zoysia grass will turn yellow then brown in color.
I hope this grass guide helps you determine which species is suitable for your lawn’s needs. There are many benefits to each and knowing the different characteristics of each will help you decide what will work best for you.