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Saint Augustine Grass Vs. Bermuda Grass

Image by, courtesy of Stefano Mortellaro

Both Saint Augustine grass and Bermuda grass are warm-season grasses that can only be grown in the southern part of the United States. Those who live in the northern part of the country need to plant a grass that is classified as a cool-season variety. Bermuda grass was brought to America from Europe by the early Spanish colonists. St. Augustine Grass is a native of the Caribbean, Africa and the Mediterranean. They both can be grown in the same areas, but they are very different.


Bermuda grass has dark green blades that have a medium to fine texture and is easy to grow. Bermuda grass does not grow high, and it can be mowed close to the soil and forms a densely packed turf. St. Augustine Grass is blue-green in color and has large, flat stems and broad, coarse leaves. Both varieties are considered perennial plants (meaning that they live for many years). St. Augustine grass should be mowed to between 1 and 3 inches.


Bermuda grass grows in tropical and subtropical areas . New varieties have been developed that can be grown in the transition zones in between the warm-season and cool-season areas. St. Augustine Grass does best in the hot, moist climate of tropical and subtropical areas and actually grows better than Bermuda grass in the hottest temperatures.


Bermuda grass grows best in full sun and is drought- and salt-resistant. It will go dormant if the temperature goes below 60 degrees F, and grow again when the temperature rises. It can tolerate any type of soil, as long as it is well drained. St. Augustine grass is drought-resistant and will become damaged if the temperature drops below 20 degrees F. St. Augustine can be grown in partial shade as well as in full sun and can tolerate poor soil.


Bermuda grass is used for lawns, golf courses, sports fields and, because of its resistance to salt, can be used in coastal regions. St. Augustine grass is not that tough and should only be used in low traffic areas such as front lawns.


Bermuda grass sends out shoots to grow new plants; for this reason, it can be considered invasive. It can spread into flower beds and overtake other plants. It is also very hard to remove if you want to change to another variety. Bermuda grass is disease and insect resistant. St. Augustine Grass is susceptible to fungal diseases and to a fatal viral disease called St. Augustine Grass Decline.

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