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Types of Southern Grass

People living in southern United States have a variety of grasses to choose from when starting a lawn. These lawn grasses are adapted to the hot, humid summers and mild winters there. Each Southern grass type has its own distinctive qualities that separates it from others. Lawns in the South require more care than those in the north or transition zones.

Centipede Grass

Botanically called Eremochloa Buse, centipede grass is a low-lying and aggressive grass that spreads slowly but, when established, provides a dense and virtually weed-free lawn. This lawn grass is native to Southeast Asia and China but grows in the southern states of Florida, Virginia and Texas. It is moderately shade tolerant, although it requires full sunlight to grow and spread. Centipede grass does not become fully dormant in the winter and can be severely damaged in the cold months, especially by rare, hard freezes.

Bermuda grass

Bermuda grass, botanically called Cynodon dactylon, is a perennial grass found growing in residences across southern United States because it is inexpensive to grow. This grass type has deep roots and grows well in rising temperatures and full sunlight. It is also grown in sports fields, golf courses and parks because it is tough, has deeply embedded roots and withstands foot traffic. Although Bermuda grass is drought resistant to some degree, it needs a weekly dose of watering to maintain its green color and medium texture. It is very susceptible to cold and turns brown immediately when temperatures drop.

Zoysia Grass

Native to Japan, China and other parts of Southeast Asia, Zoysia grass is a sun-loving grass that tolerates drought but benefits from occasional watering. It has several species that are grown in southern United States, such as Meyer zoysiagrass, Japanese or Korean lawngrass, Emerald zoysiagrass, Cashmere zoysiagrass, El Toro zoysiagrass and Manilagrass. It spreads slowly, but offers a green lawn when established. It is one of the most tolerant turf grasses, which is why it is grown in parks and golf courses alike. It requires full sun to grow and spread but survives in partial shade as well.

St. Augustine Grass

Botanically called Stenotaphrum Secundatum, St. Augustine or Charleston grass is popular among gardeners in the southern United States. It grows in full sunlight to partial shade, and in well drained and moist soils, particularly along coastal areas. It grows from early summer to fall and can grow to a height of 11 inches when left uncut. It is susceptible to damage and tears easily, which doesn't make it an ideal choice for high-traffic areas such as golf courses or parks.

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