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Is there a better grass for a Lawn in Pinellas County than Floratam St Augustine?
by Rick Orr
Is there a better grass for a Lawn in Pinellas County than Floratam St Augustine? Clue: It’s a trick question! There are only 3 grasses suitable for lawns in Pinellas County – St Augustine, Bahia and Zoysia - and the type of lawn owner and where you are growing it defines which one of the three you will plant.
There is no such thing as a good looking Bahia lawn. Bahia is a utility grass. It forms a durable but open thin lawn prone to weeds and seed heads. The upside: it requires very little water, fertilizer, mowing or anything else and it covers the bare soil. Other than that there isn’t much to Bahia grass. If you want Bahia, you need to understand that it is a roadside grass and looks best mowed high as the mower will go and seen through the window of a comfortable car going 60 mph.
The much hyped grass of the future is actually a blast from the past. Widely used for formal lawns in the 50’s, zoysia has as many weaknesses as strengths. It forms a very formal attractive thick lawn when properly maintained.
However because of the near perfect uniformity of a zoysia lawn, even the most obscure weed or weak spot becomes a “crimson stain on white linen”. Another downside is zoysia is the first go dormant (turn brown) at the slightest drought or cold weather and the last to turn green. Expect many months of a brown lawn with zoysia.
Zoysia is a great grass for traffic areas or a sports turf when you can hire a turf manager to keep it perfect. But if you think you are planting a cure for all the problems of other lawn grasses, think again. Zoysia has a boatload of problems, the worse being incurable nematodes.
St Augustine was the turf of choice in the 60’s to solve the problems of zoysia used in the 50’s.Today, St Augustine is the most widely used lawn grass in Pinellas County. St Augustine forms a thick dense dark green lawn that because of the required mowing height (> 4”) is decorative only – you cannot play croquet on a St Augustine lawn.
The coarse erect leaves of St Augustine form a dark green canopy that tolerates a wide variety of soils, weeds and sunlight levels. Three things St Augustine does not tolerate are dollar weed, drought and chinch bugs. But if you manage the dollar weed, water and chinch bugs you will be rewarded with a lawn with few if any appearance problems.
What is the best grass for lawns in Pinellas County?
If you are not very lawn proud and just want to cover the bare sand - plant Bahia
If you want to have the best looking lawn on the block and are willing to hand weed if necessary – plant zoysia
If you want a decorative grass that looks great with a few solvable issues - plant St Augustine.
ILoveTurf.com - June 8th, 2012
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