So you want to put in a new lawn? First you need to determine what type of lawn you want to maintain. Are you looking for a average lawn or a lawn that is manicured neatly and carefully tended for?
Questions that will help determine this:
Is there any limitations to the yard?
Do you have water limitations?
Can you mow easily?
What kind of soil do you have?
How much shade do you have?
The two most popular lawn grasses that you will see is the Bahia grass and the St. Augustine/Floratam.
Let's look at Bahia first. This grass has a mowing height of 3 to 4 inches. Bahia will last through a very dry season, so it's a hardy grass. Bahia has a low shade tolerance, and if you plan on walking on it allot, it's wear tolerance is very poor. This grass is very low maintenance and you can either seed or buy this grass on the pallet. Each pallet will cover approx. 500 to 600 sq ft.
Moving on to St. Augustine. This grass has a mowing height of 4 to 5 inches. St. Augustine needs water, so if you have water restrictions be sure to find out if you will be able to maintain this type of grass. It has a very low tolerance for drought seasons. Grows well in shaded areas. Based on my own experiences St. Augustine grows about every 4 to 5 days in the summer but it goes dormant in the winter months. St. Augustine has a low tolerance for wear. I don't think that there is a grass out there that will withstand you walking on it continuously. You can plant St. Augustine either with sod which comes in 500 to 600 sq ft pallets or use plugs. I would not recommend plugging any lawn, please see my recent blog on plugs.
Advantages of Bahia
It forms a extensive root system. Grows very well in infertile, sandy soils. Bahia grass does not need allot of fertilizers. This type of grass only has one primary insect which is the Mole Cricket.
Disadvantages of Bahia
On a personal note, this type of grass slips through my blades and I spend more time going over and over the lawn to get a clean cut, which makes ruts in your lawn. If you have this type of grass and you notice spots of grass that are not cut, this is why. The best way is to lower your blades and cut shorter for this type of grass and this will usually fix the problem. Bahia also has a low tolerance for cold temperatures. It turns yellow from a iron deficiency. This can be overcome by using a fertilizer with iron in it. One of the main problems with Bahia is that it has a open growth habit, which means you have more weed growth. The problem is most herbicides don't work on these weeds. Try to mow shorter and you will be able to handle the weeds better.
Let's move on to St. Augustine grass. This is, as you might of guessed the most common turf grass in most parts of Florida. St. Augustine needs water and fertilizer to grow.
Advantages of St. Augustine
It has a good salt tolerance. Good shade tolerance. It's perfect as soon as you put it down. Establishment from sod to a lush green lawn is quick and easy.
Disadvantages of St. Augustine
Chinch bug. Please see my latest blog on Chinch bugs. St. Augustine grass produces excessive thatch. If your saying I don't have St. Augustine, I have Floratam. Well over time the insect has overcome the grasses resistance and is now a problem for Floratam as well.
The best time to plant these two types of grasses would be spring or early summer months.
Ok, so there you have it. I hope you can know make a better decision on what type of lawn you put down. From a lawn business owner, I speak for myself, St. Augustine is the better choice for reasons like, less weeds, thicker and greener year round. Remember Bahia will die off on top as soon as winter comes. St. Augustine will stay green through several months of winter if well taken care of. I can mow St. Augustine grass at 4 to 5 inches where Bahia I have to lower my blades down to 3 to 4 inches. Which is harder on the equipment. Also consider whether or not you will be using a lawn service or not.
Last but not least ASK THE NEIGHBORS!
See if they like the type of grass they have and how hard is it to take care of.
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