St. Augustine is a turf grass widely adapted to the world's warm, humid (subtropical) regions. It is believed to be native to the coastal regions of both the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean. In Florida, St. Augustine is the most common planted turfgrass in urban, coastal areas. It can be grown in a wide variety of soils, but grows best in well-drained, fertile soils. To produce an acceptable quality lawn, St. Augustine grass requires WATERING and FERTLIZING and grows well in the Ocala area.
ADVANTAGES - St. Augustine grass produces a dark to blue-green, dense turf that is well adapted to most soils and climatic regions in Florida. It has good salt tolerance and certain cultivars will generally tolerate shade better than other warm-season turfgrasses. St. Augustine grass establishes from sod quickly and easily. Several different types of St. Augustine grass sod and plugs are available from garden centers and sod installers throughout Florida.
DISADVANTAGES - St. Augustine grass, like most turfgrasses, has certain cultural and pest problems which may limit its use in some situations. The coarse leaf texture is objectionable to some people. It requires irrigation to produce a good quality turf, and does not remain green during drought conditions without supplemental irrigation. Excessive thatch buildup can occur under moderate to high fertility and frequent irrigation conditions. It wears poorly, and some varieties are susceptible to cold damage. The major insect pest of St. Augustine grass is the chinch bug and sod webworms.
Bahiagrass was introduced from Brazil in 1914 and was originally used as a pasture grass on the poor sandy soils of the southeastern United States. Several varieties have become available for use as lawngrasses and are an excellent choice for Ocala area lawns. The ability of bahiagrasses to persist on infertile, dry soils and their resistance to most pests have made them increasingly popular with homeowners.
ADVANTAGES - Bahiagrass can be grown from seed which is abundant and relatively inexpensive. Once established, these grasses develop an extensive root system which makes them one of the most drought tolerant lawngrasses. Bahiagrass produces a very durable sod which is able to withstand moderate traffic. In addition, bahiagrasses have fewer pest problems than any other Florida lawngrass, although mole crickets can severely damage it.
DISADVANTAGES - Bahiagrasses have a relatively open growth habit and the tall unsightly seedheads that are produced continuously from May through November. The prolific seedheads, plus the very tough leaves and stems make bahias difficult to mow. The coarse texture of several bahia varieties reduce their visual quality. Bahiagrasses are not well adapted to soils having high pH (alkaline soils) and grow poorly in areas subject to salt spray. They often appear yellow in spring and fall due to lack of iron and they can be seriously damaged by insects called mole crickets. Bahiagrass has low tolerance to most currently available postemergence grass herbicides. This makes weed control difficult in bahiagrass turf.
Bermudagrass is planted throughout Florida primarily on golf courses, athletic fields, tennis courts, and bowling greens. They are primarily used in areas where fine-textured, high quality turf is essential for sports activities, and maintenance budgets are adequate. Bermudagrass is native to Africa where it thrived on fertile soils. Today, most of the bermudagrass used for turf in Florida are hybrids of two different species.
ADVANTAGES - Bermudagrass produces a vigorous, light to dark green, dense turf that is well adapted to most soils and climatic regions in Florida. Bermudagrass has excellent wear, drought and salt tolerance and is a good choice for ocean front property. It establishes rapidly and is competitive against weeds and, depending on the variety, is available as seed, sod or sprigs.
DISADVANTAGES - Bermudagrass has a large number of cultural and pest problems which restrict its use in many Florida situations. It is not suitable for most home lawns because of the need for restricted use pesticides to control nematodes and insects. It also requires the most maintenance for an acceptable appearance