In Central Florida there are many species of turfgrass to choose from and within those species are many cultivars. Such a wide selection can make it quite difficult to decide which one is right for your landscape. When choosing, site selection should be one of the main factors. Sun exposure is also another important deciding factor; is there full sun, partial shade or shade. Full sun can be interpreted as six hours or more of sun exposure per day. Please keep in mind that early morning sun, before 10 am is not very effective as the afternoon sun in terms of plant requirement. Therefore, start counting sunlight hours beginning after 10 am. Let’s discuss some of the turfgrasses available to us.
St Augustine– Florotam St. Augustine is most widely used in landscape in Florida. St. Augustine requires full sun to partial shade depending on the cultivar. St. Augustine can be a beautiful grass and easily managed when best management practices are being followed. Some of those best management practices are, maintaining mowing the grass between 3.5 to 4 inches, do not remove more than one-third of the grass blade at mowing, and irrigate only in the morning before 10 am. All cultivars of St Augustine grasses require at least an inch of irrigation weekly. St Augustine tend to show signs of stress when adequate amount of water is not available. This species of grass can be affected by diseases such as take all root rot, large patch, brown path, Pythium and grey leaf spot. Chinch bug and mole cricket are also major pests of St. Augustine grasses.
There were two cultivars of St. Augustine that were released within the last two years. They are CitraBlue and ProVista. I am fortunate to have both CitraBlue and ProVista as a part of my landscape. Both grasses will do well in partial shade. Based on my experience and observations with both grasses I tend to prefer CitraBlue for a few reasons. CitraBlue has a great defense against Take-All Root Rot disease, it maintains a blueish green color even during mild winter and does not require as much water as other ST. Augustine cultivars. Also, because of the dense growth, CitraBlue lawn does have problems with weed infestation. One draw back is that it has a spongy feel when walked on and there is a high potential of thatch build up. Provista is the only genetical modified organism (GMO) grass on the market. A 41% glyphosate is safe to use for weed control in ProVista. Based on my opinion ProVista does not recover as well from Take Root rot as CitraBlue. During ProVista tends to turn brown quickly if supplemental water is not given compared to CitraBlue.
Zoysia- The use of zoysia grass in the landscape has become more popular in recent years. Zoysia is a slow growing grass when compared to St. Augustine. The required mowing height is 2.5 inches compare to St. Augustine 3.5 to 4 inches tall. Zoysia grasses water requirement is the same when compared to St Augustine. Zoysia thrive best in full sun to partial shade.
Bahia grass – Is sometimes refers to as pasture grass because of its toughness and ability to withstand drought for long period. Bahia grass does not require much care and is perfect for areas of the landscape where there is no irrigation. It also strives well on low fertility soils.
For more information on turfgrass on any other horticulture topics, contact Grantly Ricketts, UF/IFAS Extension in Osceola County at 321-697-3000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.