Skip to main content

Florida Turfgrass Selection

A healthy lawn serves many purposes such as prevents soil erosion, filters pollution, beautifies the landscape and increases home value. Proper turfgrass selection is one of the most important factors in developing and maintaining a healthy attractive lawn. Turf selection should be based on factors such as environmental conditions, turf quality desired, maintenance requirements and homeowner’s association stipulation if applies. Environmental conditions include temperature, moisture, and shade adaptation.

Turfgrass can be classified into two groups, depending on temperature requirement. There are cool season and warm season turfgrasses.  Cool Season grasses grow best during the cool months of the year (60-75 degrees) and often struggles in the summer. In Florida, cool season grasses may do well in the northern part of the state including the Panhandle. Ryegrass is a popular cool season grass that is used to overseed warm season grasses in the winter, especially on athletic fields. Warm season turfgrasses grow best during the warm months of the year, 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  Warm season grasses go dormant during cold winter and resume growth when temperature is favorable. Warm season grasses Include bermudagrass, centipedegrass, zoysiagrass, St. Augustinegrass and bahiagrass.

St Augustine grasses – Have large flat stems with broad coarse leaves, with bluish-green color, and form a dense turf. There are many cultivars of St. Augustine available, which make it suitable for many different sites. There is a St Augustine cultivar for almost every soil type and environmental condition. For example, Florotam grows best in full sun while CitraBlue, bitter blue and Seville will grow well in partial shade. There is also ProVisita, a new St Augustine cultivar that is tolerant to glyphosate (brands such as roundup and farmwork). Overall, St Augustine requires supplemental irrigation during times of drought.

Centipedes grasses- Centipede has a light green which makes it not very attractive to many. It requires low maintenance such as infrequent mowing and light fertilization. It tolerates low fertile soils and light shade. Centipede grass subject to the disease centipede decline which can be prevent by use proper cultural practices such as proper mowing, irrigation, and fertilization.

Bahia grasses- Commonly used as a utility or roadside turf and is considered a pasture grass. Bahia has a ragged appearance and is not as attractive as other commonly used turfgrasses in Florida. It is drought tolerant, meaning it will go dormant with low soil moisture and high temperature. Bahia will bounce back from dormancy after a good rain event or if sufficient irrigation is being applied.

Zoysia grasses– There are many cultivars of zoysia grasses with varying textures from very fine leaf blade to coarse. Zoysia produce a dense turf and requires less nitrogen than Florotam the most used St. Augustine grass in Florida. Some cultivars of zoysia seed are available on the market.

Bermuda grasses– these Warm-season grasses adapted to many soil conditions, produced an attractive turf when fertilized and mowed correctly. Bermuda is not a very popular grass on residential lots in Central and south Florida because it requires a lot of nitrogen fertilizer, and water to stay healthy and attractive. Most athletic fields use Bermuda grass. Common Bermuda can be established from seed, but seed are no available for hybrid. Bermuda thrives in hot weather and does not do well in shade; it spreads rapidly and can be a problem around flower beds.

For more information on turfgrasses and any other related horticulture topics, contact Grantly Ricketts with UF/IFAS Extension in St Lucie at 772-462-2847 or email at gricketts@ufl.edu.