How to Grow the Best Grass for Florida

Our pick for the best grass for Florida is Scotts Turf Builder Bermuda Grass Seed Mix. This seed mix contains common and hybrid Bermuda grass seeds to allow a higher germination rate. This is perfect for Floridians, who often face difficulties when growing grass, due to excessive heat and challenging soil conditions. Bermuda grass needs just one deep watering per week, allowing the water to seep into the root system. If you like that one, we’ve got some other awesome Florida grass picks below.

Our Top 5 Picks for Best Grass for Florida

How is Florida Soil Different From Others?

best grass for Florida
Photo by Leonard J. DeFrancisci licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

According to Gardening Solutions, growing plants and grass in Florida can truly be a challenge for homeowners. Rather than soil, Florida is made of mostly a sandy component called Myakka, and it covers most of the state.

This poses a challenge for people who want a beautiful, green lawn, since most grasses thrive in fertile soil. To make it more difficult, the type of Myakka can vary throughout the state. In some areas, it’s extremely sandy, while in others, it has more of a clay-like texture.

Myakka is typically more compact than regular soil, giving plants and grasses less room to spread, breathe, and receive nutrients. Myakka also has a difficult time holding in moisture and nutrients from fertilizers.

How to Prepare Florida Soil for Grass

Since Florida doesn’t have optimal soil conditions for growing grass, it’s extremely important to prepare the soil to create optimal conditions for grass seed, sod, or plugs.

According to The University of Florida IFAS Extension, your first step should be having a professional soil analysis conducted. During this process, you’ll have your pH tested via a soil sample. The analysis will tell you, according to the pH, what type of amendments you should add to your soil, such as limestone, to decrease acidity.

Then, you should thoroughly rid your yard of debris, like weeds, rocks, and dead plant material. Use several applications of herbicide, if needed, to thoroughly control weeds. You also may need to consult a professional about irrigating and grading your yard to ensure that you have plenty of water for your lawn, but that water drainage from your lawn will not affect your home.

Add any amendments recommended during your soil analysis, and then till your yard at least 6 to 8 inches deep. This will help your amendments reach far into the soil to meet your grass’s root system.

Finally, rake over your yard to smooth out your soil to prepare for grass seed planting. Thoroughly water your soil before planting to help it settle and also moisten the soil several inches beneath the surface.

Alternative to Grass Seed: Planting Grass Plugs in Florida

Some homeowners in Florida choose to use grass plugs, rather than grass seeds, to establish their lawns. Since Florida doesn’t provide the optimal growing conditions for grass seeds to germinate, already-established grass plugs can help take out some of the guesswork by spreading, and establishing, themselves.

What, exactly, are grass plugs? They are usually circular, square, or rectangle-shaped pieces of sod that you plant an even amount of space apart from each other (source). Since each piece contains already-established grass, you don’t have to worry about trying to get your seeds to germinate at an amazing rate for a full lawn.

The closer you plant grass plugs, the faster your lawn will establish. The plugs will spread themselves through the soil to connect each piece together with grass. You’ll have spots of bare soil until this happens, but as long as your plugs are maintained well and you keep traffic to a minimum, you can see a full lawn in several weeks.

You can also make your own grass plugs from sod, as explained in this video from The Lawn Care Nut:

Better Homes and Gardens provides some helpful tips for establishing your lawn with grass plugs:

  • Plant as soon as possible after purchase, and keep plugs moist until you plant
  • Dig a hole for each plug, ensuring they’re spaced evenly
  • Keep plugs consistently moist with a deep watering as needed
  • Pull weeds between plugs as you see them appear
  • Mowing your plugs once grass reaches about 3 inches will trigger them to spread more

Common Types of Grass to Grow in Florida

According to Florida Landscaping Today, the following grasses are commonly grown in Florida. However, some grow better in certain areas of Florida than others, are more resistant to pets, provide more protection against wear, or have higher maintenance needs. Therefore, choose the best grass based on your most important factors and needs for your lawn.

Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass is one of the most versatile, as it can grow in a wide variety of locations, soils, and weather conditions. Hybrid versions, especially, are extremely tolerable to drought, heavy traffic, and weeds. It also spreads and grows extremely fast, so it’s best for those who don’t want to wait long for an established lawn.

St. Augustine Grass

St. Augustine is probably the most common grass in Florida. This variety is resistant to drought and can withstand excessive heat, making it a perfect fit for a Florida climate.

St. Augustine prefers full sun and heat to establish itself quickly and continue to grow. Most people choose to plant St. Augustine using sod or plugs to help it establish into its thick, green look it’s known for.

Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass is a good choice for Floridians because it tolerates several types of soil, can grow in some shade, and resists most weeds. However, it isn’t drought-tolerant, and needs a lot of water and fertilization to grow and maintain itself.

Zoysia stands up to a good amount of traffic and can be mowed less often than other grasses once it’s established.

Centipede Grass

Centipede grass is commonly used in Northern Florida, where temperatures at night remain a bit cooler. This grass requires less fertilization and maintenance needs than other grasses. In fact, over-fertilization will make the grass less tolerant to colder temperatures.

This grass can tolerate some shade, but it doesn’t tolerate heavy foot traffic.

Our Recommendation: Scotts Turf Builder Bermuda Grass Seed Mix

Our pick for best grass for Florida is Scotts Turf Builder Bermuda Grass Seed Mix. Bermuda grass is an extremely versatile grass that grows in a number of conditions, even the extreme heat of Florida. Plus, it establishes quickly and can give you a full lawn in the quickest time, if it’s maintained properly.

This particular Bermuda grass contains several types of Bermuda grass seeds, from common to hybrid. What this means is that it will give you the highest chance of germination for your Florida lawn, since some seeds may do better in your soil and weather conditions than others.

This is also the perfect choice for Floridians because it’s drought-resistant. You won’t have to worry about a constant water supply for your lawn, as Bermuda grass will withstand a short period of drought, and picks back up with its growth after a drought.

Additionally, Bermuda grass requires little maintenance. It stands up to high foot traffic and doesn’t need to be mowed often. Mow when your grass reaches about 3 to 4 inches. Water about once per week, or twice if you live in an area with extreme heat and little rainfall. A thorough, deep watering is best for Bermuda grass lawns.

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