While many choices for turf-grasses exist in the Lone Star State, fewer are appropriate to grow in South Texas--that geographical "triangle" south of a line from Del Rio to San Antonio to Houston. Humidity and rainfall are highest to the east, with drier conditions occurring just a couple counties inland from the Gulf of Mexico. Warm-season lawns dominate. Choose more cold and drought tolerant selections the closer you live to the Rio Grande.
Bermuda grass needs lots of sunshine. It tolerates drought and salt-spray extremely well. It can handle heavy foot traffic, such as a sports field or school play yard, and ideally is maintained at a mowed height of only 1 to 2 inches. It's fine-textured blades feel nice on bare feet. This is a warm-season grass, greening up and growing well from spring to mid-fall.
Also with fine-textured blades, buffalo grass unfortunately is not a good choice if you expect lots of foot traffic. Also superb for frosty areas of South Texas that also get little rain or no irrigation, mow this lawn at a height of 2 to 3 inches. Some people choose not to mow this grass type, creating a shaggy carpet-like effect. This turf-grass species is better for the central and western counties far from the Gulf Coast.
St. Augustine Grass
While St. Augustine grass lawns look lush and tropical and tend to tolerate dappled shade from trees, it's not the best in chilly winter areas or in high-traffic areas. Its leaves are stiff and coarse to the touch, kept at a height of 3 to 4 inches. Over-watering and fertilizing this turf-grass often leads to frequent disease problems. It truly is suited only to South Texas counties bordering the Gulf and no further inland than San Antonio, where it still needs a bit of care.
If your estate is bumped up against the ocean or you have a need for a very low, putting green lawn carpet effect, seashore paspalum is perfect. Not good for cool winter interior counties, seashore paspalum requires a fair amount of water to look its best but does handle drought well. It's kept at a cut height of 1/2 to 1 inch on its finely textured blades. If your irrigation water is salty, choose this grass.
Zoysia grass is one of the few grasses adaptable to all counties in South Texas as it tolerates light shade, drought, some foot traffic, salt-spray and winter cold fairly well. Mow it as low as 1/2 inch to as much as 2 inches tall and enjoy the medium- to fine-textured blades under your bare feet. This grass needs less nitrogen fertilizers than Bermuda grass, tends to brown quickly in extended droughts and is best established from sod rolls.
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