The Sunshine State is a fantastic climate for all warm-season grasses. Florida’s peninsula is 447 miles long and has 3 regions: northern, central, and southern. Each region varies in climate and conditions, but all have abundant sunshine and heat. And some grasses work better in different regions of the state.
No matter where you are in the state, you’ll experience either a tropical or subtropical climate. And though some regions experience cooler temperatures than others, the growing seasons are always warm, sunny, and humid.
Choosing the right grass to grow in a sunny Florida climate – or understanding how to care for the grass you already have – is the first step to proper lawn and garden maintenance in the state.
What Grasses Grow and Thrive in Florida?
A wide variety of elements in Florida affect which types of grass grow and thrive here. For instance, Floridians experience extreme heat, humidity, rain. So if you are choosing a grass, choose a warm-season grasses that is heat tolerant and drought-resistant.
Most Florida soil is sandy, so grasses that perform well in sandy soils are also a great option.
Best Grass for South Florida
South Florida has a tropical climate. So go with grasses that are well-suited for extreme heat and abundant sunshine.
St. Augustine grass does well throughout the state. But it does especially well in the hot temperatures of South Florida. Even though it is drought resistant, St. Augustine grass thrives with in moist weather as well.
Bermuda grass is another common choice for this region. Centipede grass is also an excellent choice throughout the state. It is resistant to extreme heat and drought, can withstand heavy foot traffic, and does not grow very tall.
Best Grass for Central Florida
Central Florida is a subtropical, humid climate that averages more inches of rainfall each year than the rest of the United States. Bermuda Grass tends to perform well in the warm, humid climate and sandy soils of Central Florida. The always-dependable St. Augustine grass is a good options for this region.
Best Grass for North Florida
North Florida’s climate is humid and considered subtropical. Though its seasons more closely resemble that of the other southeastern states.
The best choices for this part of the state are centipede and St Augustine. Use centipede when your lawn receives sun most of the day. Use St Augustine if your lawn is mostly in the shade.
While the overall climates within different Florida regions are similar, it is important to consider the individual characteristics of the lawn itself. Think about your lawn and consider each of the following:
- How much sun does it receive?
- How long is your lawn in the shade during the day?
- What soil type do you have?
- Am I able to water my lawn during drought?
Also, consider how the lawn is primarily used. For instance, if kids and pets play there regularly, a turf grass such as Bermuda grass may be a better option than others.
Best Grass for Shade in Florida
If the lawn is shaded during most of the day, especially in the late afternoon and evening hours, a grass that requires full sun will not perform well. St. Augustine grass does better in partial sun or shade, whereas Bermuda and centipede thrive in full sun.
Best Grass for Sandy Soil in Florida
Centipede, Zoysia and St. Augustine are some of the best options for the sandy soils in Florida.
Zoysia develops a long, durable root system that’s capable of growing deep to find water.
Bare or thin spots in a centipede lawn can easily be repaired with some sand and frequent watering. Within a few months the centipede will have closed the bare spot.
St. Augustine is thrives near coastal areas where there is tons of sand and occasional saltwater spray.
Rating the Most Popular Grasses in Florida
We wanted to round up some of the most common turf grasses in Florida to see what advantages and disadvantages each grass type offers, as well as what pests each grass is prone to attract.
St. Augustine Grass
St. Augustine grass is the most popular grass for turf lawns in Florida. Its heat-tolerant qualities make it perfect for hot Florida sunshine. It thrives during Florida’s warm growing season and requires little to no maintenance in the cooler months. St. Augustine can perform extremely well throughout every region and especially thrives in the moist climate of central Florida. But watch out for pests such as cinch bugs and tropical sod worms. St. Augustine can also be finicky when it comes to controlling weeds.
Unfortunately, it can be extremely difficult to grow this grass from seed. If you want to establish St. Augustine grass, you have two options:
- Establish using plugs
- Establish using sod
Establishing St Augustine Using Plugs
Establishing St Augustine grass with plugs is the least expensive option. To establish using plugs, evenly space them in the spring and give it a good watering. It should spread easily over the next few years.
Most homeowners opt for the plug route when filling in bare spots in their yard. If you are establishing the grass over your entire lawn, you’ll likely want to use sod.
Establishing St Augustine Using Sod
Using sod to create a new St Augustine lawn is the fastest and easiest way to do so. But it costs more than plugs. Just like the establishment of any lawn grass using sod, you’ll need to keep it moist for a few weeks until its root system takes hold. For more tips, go here.
Zoysia grass is native to Asia and now serves as a popular turf lawn in the United States because of its thick, lush blades. We love that Zoysia grass can thrive in all Florida climates. Its thick, lush blades make it a popular choice. However, it does require more maintenance than some other options.
Some common pests for Zoysia grass include grubs, mole crickets, chinch bugs, and fall army worms.
Centipede is another well-loved grass in Florida because of its bright green hues, minimal maintenance requirements, and high drought resistance. Centipede grows well in north and central Florida and is also one of the slowest growing warm-season grasses. Less mowing in the scorching summer months is always a plus!
Unfortunately, centipede grass does not always perform well on uneven surfaces or in shady areas. Centipede is nearly impossible to establish from seed, so it’s best to use centipeded sod. Fortunately, centipede sod is one of the cheapest options.
Chinch bugs and spiddle bugs love to gnaw on centipede causing thin areas to occur. Consider applying a pesticide and a routine dethatching where these pests like to hide. Dethatching will also limit the potential fungal impacts.
The thick, dark green turf of Bermuda grass is a favorite for south Florida golf courses and various athletic fields. It can withstand heavy foot traffic. Although it is drought tolerant, it does best when regularly watered.
If you are experiencing a particularly dry season, Bermuda grass may develop dollar spot and rust. This can also be caused by thatch buildup. You will need to dethatch Bermuda grass once every year or two to keep thatch manageable. Aerating and overseeding in the spring can also help limit thatch
Bermuda grass can also be prone to diseases and pests like grubs, fall armyworms, mites, and fire ants.