Lawn Care Tips

For the Love of Lawns: Caring for the Top Pensacola Grass Types

Posted by Scott Williams

Feb 13, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Pink petals from a flowering tree on green grassIt’s already been a pretty unique winter in the Pensacola area, and there’s still time left for more unusual activity from Mother Nature. But, homeowners and business owners across the region need to start looking ahead to the fast-approaching dawn of the spring growing season and giving some thought to how to best handle lawn care in the coming months.

There are four major types of Pensacola grass types that most commonly thrive in our area:

  • Zoysia
  • Bermuda
  • Centipede
  • St. Augustine

They’re each different, and have their own set of best practices for yearly lawn care. Here’s a brief primer for caring for each of these four grass types as we look forward to the spring thaw:

Caring for Zoysia grass

Zoysia grass requires a little extra attention, but it can make for a beautiful, lush lawn if it’s properly cared for. Some points to keep in mind about this turf variety:

  • Prefers sunny areas, not as successful in shade
  • Has good drought resistance
  • Prefers slightly acidic soil
  • Will turn brown while dormant in the winter

To give your zoysia grass lawn the best chance to thrive, follow these simple care instructions:

  • Mow the grass short (between 1” and 2”)
  • Mow at least weekly (this grass grows quickly and needs to stay short to thrive)
  • Keep your mower blade very sharp (it gets tougher as it grows, so it’s more prone to tearing when hit with a dull blade than other varieties)
  • Maintain about an inch of watering per week (including natural rainfall), don’t overwater.
  • Small, frequent applications of fertilizer during the growing season works best (don’t fertilize too late in the year or your lawn won’t properly go dormant)
  • Keep an eye out for signs of pests or disease (this grass can be prone to some common lawn diseases and pests common in the Pensacola area)

Caring for Bermuda grass

Bermuda grass is a tough, durable, and aggressive variety that has a lot of strengths adapted to hot Florida summers. These same qualities can also present challenges if it starts taking over areas where you don’t want grass, like your ornamental hedges or flower gardens. Some general highlights of this variety include:

  • Highly weed resistant
  • Excellent drought resistance
  • Prefers direct sun, not nearly as successful in shade
  • Handles salt well, so it can thrive near the coast

Here are some important tips for caring for bermuda grass in the Pensacola area:

  • Mow the grass very short (between ¾” and 1” in most cases)
  • Mow every few days (you never want to cut more than ⅓ of the length of each blade of grass)
  • Recycle the clippings (grass clippings are the very best mulch source for bermudagrass)
  • Maintain about 1” to 1¼” of water per week (including natural rainfall), a little more in very sandy soil.
  • Standard fertilizing works well (just be sure to have your soil tested to verify pH balance prior to treatment)
  • Keep an eye out for signs of pests or disease (while this grass fights off weeds very well, and doesn’t provide an optimal environment for some lawn pests, burrowing insects and root-based diseases are still a danger)
  • Needs to be aerated early in the summer

Caring for Centipede grass

Centipede grass is probably the best choice if you’re looking for a low-maintenance lawn. It’s tough and durable, and does very well resisting weeds and pests without a lot of treatment help. Its one Achilles Heel though, is that it doesn’t do well with heavy foot traffic, so it may not be the best choice for yards where kids and pets regularly romp. This variety is known for:

  • Excellent weed and pest resistance due to its rough texture
  • Does very well in shade, but can handle moderate sun too
  • Can thrive in acidic soil
  • Not very drought resistant, so watering is important

Here are some key tips for caring for a centipede grass lawn in and around Pensacola:

  • Mow the grass at a moderate height (between 1½” and 2” is best)
  • Mow weekly (sometimes more during the heaviest part of the growing season)
  • *Very Important* Maintain up to 1½” of water per week (including natural rainfall), and keep an eye out for signs it needs more.
  • Recognize that centipede grass is naturally a much lighter color (yellow-green) than other varieties. (This doesn’t mean it needs more water or fertilizer — a common misconception.)
  • A standard fertilizing schedule is best (but note the warning above)
  • Stay vigilant against white grubs and nematodes (these are the only pests that routinely harm centipedegrass, but a bad infestation can cause a lot of damage)

Caring for St. Augustine grass

St. Augustine grass is very popular in the Pensacola area because it can thrive in sandy soil and hot temperatures. However, it tends to be higher maintenance, has a low tolerance to cold, and can be more susceptible to diseases than other varieties. Some points to keep in mind about St. Augustine grass:

  • Not as hardy as other varieties
  • Does very well in sun, but can also handle shade
  • Can thrive in sandy soil, so it can thrive right on the coast
  • Not very drought resistant, so it needs to stay well-watered

Here are the best practices for caring for St. Augustine grass near Pensacola:

  • Mow the grass higher than other varieties (preferably between 3” and 4”)
  • Adjust the mowing schedule to avoid “shocking” the grass or creating too much thatch.
  • Only water when it begins to wilt and only fertilize based on specific soil needs (excessive watering and fertilizing can stress St. Augustine grass and make it more susceptible to pests and disease)
  • Stay on the lookout for any signs of chinch bugs (these lawn pests are very common in our area, and they love St. Augustine grass)

If you’d like more tips for caring for whatever grass your Pensacola lawn is made of, or if you’d like to explore outsourcing your lawn care this year to professionals, contact Lawn Master and we’d be happy to help.

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