Warm season grasses for homeowners living in southern America
Warm season grass, resistant to drought, disease and insect attacks. Will survive in a variety of soils from sandy to clay and other infertile, dry soils. Requires some maintenance. The grass will thin out over time and has a low tolerance to many weed control herbicides. Used extensively in lawns along coastal areas in Florida. Vigorous growing habit requires frequent mowing during hot weather. It has a coarse blade and is not suitable for soils with high a pH.
Bahiagrass is a drought resistant turf. It does well in lawns and along highways, and its best used in sunny areas in warm humid regions. Its roots can extend up to 8' deep.
In Florida, Bahia grass survives in level areas with no irrigation, but often fails on sandy embankments. It can also be ruined by excess watering, when none is required, and by excess fertilization. Bahia grass normally goes semi-dormant during winter, yet people sometimes fertilize and water it to keep it green in winter, and thereby encourage weed populations.
There are no post-emergence herbicides for grassy weeds in Bahia grass, which is a problem. Most weed problems in Bahia grass could be avoided by proper seed establishment and timely mowing. The large state agencies responsible for maintenance of utility turf struggle to find funds to keep Bahia grass mown properly. In summer its rapid vertical growth and exuberant seed head production are remarkable.
Introduced to the US in the 1930s from South America as a feed grass for cattle grazing.
Planting: seed or sod
Shade tolerance: moderate
Watering: low, and survives drought. Does well in soggy areas.
Mowing Height: 2" — 4" Mow regularly to avoid the numerous tall seed heads that pop up.
NOTE: Bahia grass is not an aggressive spreader and does not require excessive fertilization. When fertilizer is applied, it should contain iron, especially if the soil pH is 7 or more.