Bahiagrass Questions

The tropics-loving bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum) originally hails from the West Indies and has established itself as both a drought-resistant lawn grass and a perennial weed in the southeastern United States. Whether they have bahiagrass for lawn purposes or are struggling with it as a weed, backyard gardeners may be faced with common questions concerning its care, management and control.

How Do I Identify Bahiagrass?

Bahiagrass forms light green mats with a coarse texture and an open, loose foliage canopy. The plant's leaves are pointed and thin and grow on woody-looking rhizomes, according to Texas A&M University. If you're unsure, take a sample of the grass to the nearest regional cooperative extension office (see Resources) for identification assistance.

How Do I Start a Bahiagrass Lawn?

Landscapers can start a bahiagrass lawn by the traditional methods of seeding, plugging or laying sod. The University of Florida recommends seeding or laying sod as opposed to plugging, since bahiagrass grows slowly and plugs would take a long time to adequately cover the soil surface. Seeding is more economically friendly than laying sod and less labor intensive, but laying sod gives you an instant lawn without waiting for the seed to germinate and mature.

How Often Do I Mow Bahiagrass?

Gardeners should keep bahiagrass lawns at a height of 3 to 4 inches, according to the University of Florida. Mow as needed to maintain such heights, typically trimming the grass every other week. Because bahiagrass likes to send up seed stalks that many gardeners find unattractive, the lawn may need to be mowed more often than the grass actually needs to cut off the tall seed stalks.

How Should I Water Bahiagrass?

Bahiagrass thrives in drought conditions, according to Clemson University. This makes it ideal for xeriscape lawns or hot climates. The University of Florida suggests only watering bahiagrass lawns when the grass shows signs of drought stress. Stress symptoms include the lawn taking on a blue-gray hue or the leaf blades wilting. Each watering sessions should apply enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of 8 inches.

How Do I Control Bahiagrass in My Garden?

Hand-pulling bahiagrass comprises the best method of control in a backyard vegetable garden, according to Clemson University. For the best results, water the area to moisten the soil and make the dirt more malleable, thus making uprooting easier. The grass' development can be limited and controlled by heavy mulching. The university suggests using a mulch layer that's 3 inches deep to adequately help keep bahiagrass from invading your garden.

How Do I Kill Bahiagrass?

Non-selective systemic herbicides like glyphosate will quickly kill bahiagrass. Because glyphosate kills all vegetation and not just bahiagrass, never use the chemical in lawns that are invaded with bahiagrass. For bahiagrass in lawns, Clemson University recommends buying a selective herbicide like monosodium methyl arsenate (MSMA) that will kill the bahiagrass but not most turf species. When choosing a selective lawn grass herbicide, choose one that's labeled as safe for the type of lawn you're growing.

Keywords: growing bahiagrass, bahiagrass care questions, bahiagrass care issues

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.