Types of Grass in Central Florida
Central Florida is part of zone 9 on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and has temperatures that can reach a low of 10 degrees Fahrenheit. This area, which encompasses Ocala, Orlando and the Tampa Bay region, is hot and humid in the summer while winters are normally mild. Many options exist for lawn grass, including St. Augustine, which is the most widely used grass in Florida. Most grass selections for central Florida require regular watering, particularly during the hottest summer months, and may have short periods of dormancy during the winter.
Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum) is a relatively drought-resistant, coarse grass that is used for lawns all over Florida, but is also a good turf and pasture grass. This grass can withstand heavy traffic and requires full sun and regular watering, though it can survive short-term droughts. Bahia grass, which is easily started from seed, has a deep root system--up to 8 feet--but has an open growth pattern and is susceptible to weeds. Four main cultivars exist, and the Argentine variety is among the most reliable in central Florida.
Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) is a fine, subtropical grass that stands up well to the climate in central Florida. This grass is popular for use on golf courses, but is also a good lawn grass selection. Bermuda grass thrives in full sun with moderate watering, but can survive with less water than other kinds of grass. Bermuda grass may be mowed to 1/2 inch and may be over-seeded with cool-weather grasses to keep a green lawn year-round. Bermuda grass spreads by runners above- and under-ground, and may be invasive.
St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is hardy in tropical zones and is well-used throughout Florida as a lawn grass. St. Augustine has a wide blade, is coarse and is deep green in color. It requires full sun and regular watering and may turn brown in cooler winter months. Though St. Augustine thrives in full sun, it can withstand some shade and requires water during drought conditions. This grass may be mowed to 3 inches in the warmest summer months and 2 inches during cooler weather. St. Augustine grass spreads on above-ground runners and may be invasive. This grass is difficult to start by seed and is most often installed as sod.