6 Best Grass Types for Pensacola

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overhead view of Pensacola, Florida

Living on the Emerald Coast, it would be a shame not to have a rich, beautiful green lawn. These best grass types for Pensacola will thrive better than others in our humid subtropical climate. If you’re replacing dead grass or installing a lawn for new construction, try one of these options for the best-looking results. 

Here are the six best grass types for Pensacola homeowners: 

  • Bahiagrass
  • Bermudagrass
  • Buffalograss
  • Centipedegrass
  • St. Augustinegrass
  • Zoysiagrass

6 warm-season grasses for Pensacola

All types of grass are classified as one of two categories:

  • Warm-season grasses grow most actively in late spring and summer, when temperatures are around 75 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. They perform best in the southern half of the United States. 
  • Cool-season grasses grow most actively in early spring and fall, when temperatures are around 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. They’re well-suited to northern climates with distinct seasons and cold winters. 

As you might have guessed, warm-season grasses are best for Pensacola. Our scorching summers and mild winters foster healthy growth for these warm-season grass types. 

1. Bahiagrass

Bahiagrass is perfect for Florida homes because it thrives in sandy soils that don’t hold nutrients well. It grows well with minimal water and fertilizer and resists most pests and diseases.

However, bahiagrass has its fair share of problems. It grows sparse compared to other grass types, which is unattractive to some and might allow weeds to encroach. It also produces tall seed heads that can disrupt the look of your lawn if you don’t mow them down regularly. 

  • Spreads by: Spreads along the ground using horizontal above-ground stems called stolons; can reseed itself if you leave the seed heads alone 
  • Drought tolerance: High; survives with little water but may go dormant and turn brown during long periods of drought
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low
  • Shade tolerance: Low; performs best in full sun
  • Maintenance needs: Low; doesn’t need much water or fertilizer, doesn’t produce excessive thatch, and rarely has issues with pests or grass fungus; potential issues include weed control and frequent mowing to prevent the growth of seed heads
  • Recommended mowing height: 3-4 inches

2. Bermudagrass

Bermudagrass forms a dense carpet of a lawn even in stressful conditions such as drought, high salt content in the air or soil, and heavy traffic. It spreads rapidly, which means it will recover from damage quickly on its own. However, aggressive spreading also means your grass might take over your flower beds and other cultivated areas.  

Many different cultivars of bermudagrass are widely available in Florida. Common bermudagrass has a coarser texture and requires less maintenance, while hybrid bermudas are fine-textured and take greater care. 

  • Spreads by: Spreads aggressively using horizontal stems above-ground (stolons) and below-ground (rhizomes)
  • Drought tolerance: High, but may turn brown and dormant in extended drought
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High; grows back quickly after suffering damage
  • Shade tolerance: Low; some varieties are more shade-tolerant than others
  • Maintenance needs: Moderate; needs mowing once or twice per week and is susceptible to many pest and disease problems 
  • Recommended mowing height: 1-2 inches

3. Buffalograss

Buffalograss is a less common choice for lawns that will bring an interesting blue-green color and curling blade shape to your yard. It tolerates high temperatures (good news for those 100-degree days in July in Pensacola) and drought exceptionally well. Too much rain or irrigation is more likely to kill buffalograss than drought.

While buffalograss is generally quite low-maintenance, it grows somewhat thin and often gives weeds space to germinate. You might find yourself spending a lot of time on weed control. 

  • Spreads by: Spreads quickly by stolons in summer with regular watering 
  • Drought tolerance: High
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low
  • Shade tolerance: Low
  • Maintenance needs: Low-maintenance once established other than weed problems; can be difficult to establish at first 
  • Recommended mowing height: 1.5-3 inches 

4. Centipedegrass

Centipedegrass is the most common grass type used for home lawns in the Florida Panhandle. It’s low maintenance and does well in acidic and infertile soil conditions. It grows slowly, has a medium texture, and has a lighter green color than many other turfgrass species. 

Beware that centipedegrass is susceptible to pest and disease issues that can leave grass looking discolored and sickly. You can prevent such issues with proper maintenance practices. Be careful when fertilizing centipedegrass, as too much nitrogen fertilizer can cause diseases. 

  • Spreads by: Grows slowly through stolons 
  • Drought tolerance: High; goes dormant in prolonged drought but recovers quickly from severe drought injury
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low 
  • Shade tolerance: High
  • Maintenance needs: Low; survives on little water and fertilizer 
  • Recommended mowing height: 1.5-2.5 inches

5. St. Augustinegrass

If you’re in a hurry to enjoy your new lawn, St. Augustinegrass may be right for you because it’s quicker and easier to establish than many other grass types. While this grass type grows in shade better than some other warm-season grasses, it doesn’t do well in stressful conditions such as drought or heavy wear-and-tear.

St. Augustinegrass is coarse-textured and blue or blue-green in color. It doesn’t grow as densely as some other grass types. 

  • Spreads by: Spreads along the ground by stolons
  • Drought tolerance: Low; requires regular watering during dry periods to stay healthy
  • Foot traffic tolerance: Low
  • Shade tolerance: Moderate; some cultivars are more shade-tolerant than others 
  • Maintenance needs: High; requires a regular irrigation and fertilization schedule to grow healthy
  • Recommended mowing height: 3.5-4 inches for standard cultivars; 2-2.5 inches for dwarf cultivars 

6. Zoysiagrass

Many species and cultivars of Zoysiagrass with different characteristics are available in Florida. In general, these grasses grow densely, which makes for an attractive lawn and helps to resist weeds. 

For Zoysiagrasses to remain green, they require supplemental watering during dry periods and regular fertilization. They often suffer from pest problems (especially if you neglect proper watering and fertilizing) and may require pesticides. 

  • Spreads by: Spreads through stolons and rhizomes
  • Drought tolerance: Low; requires supplemental watering, especially during dry periods 
  • Foot traffic tolerance: High; dense growth resists damage, and spreading through stolons and rhizomes allows for quick recovery 
  • Shade tolerance: High
  • Maintenance needs: Higher maintenance than many other grass types 
  • Recommended mowing height: Depends on the species and cultivar; ranges from 0.25-2.5 inches

FAQ about grass types for Pensacola 

  • What is the best grass type for a low-maintenance lawn?
    • In Pensacola, your best option for a low-maintenance lawn is bahiagrass. 
  • What is the best grass type for a lawn that gets a lot of foot traffic? 
    • If you expect a lot of foot and vehicle traffic in your yard, the best choice for you is bermudagrass because it grows thick and replaces damaged patches on its own.
  • What is the best grass type for a shady lawn? 
    • The most shade-friendly grass type for Pensacola is St. Augustinegrass.
  • What is the best grass type for a pet-friendly lawn?
    • If you have a dog or cat that spends a lot of time in your yard, you want Zoysiagrass. Zoysiagrass is a great grass type for pets because it grows densely, which discourages digging, and it will spread to cover dead patches of grass that result from pet urine.

Choose the right grass and plants for your Pensacola landscape 

As you can see, each common grass type for Pensacola has different characteristics that make it a good fit for different conditions. Make sure you choose the best grass type for your specific yard and the level of maintenance you’re willing to put in. 

Aside from choosing the right grass type, there are many other changes you can make in your landscape to help it survive and thrive in Pensacola’s climate. See our list of the best native plants for Pensacola to help you select landscape plants that will grow well with little maintenance and our guide to hurricane-resistant landscaping for tips on how to help your landscape survive intense winds and flooding. 

Selecting the perfect grass type is only the beginning. Keep your new lawn green and healthy with services from Lawn Love’s Pensacola lawn care pros

Main Photo Credit: Kevin King from Pensacola, FL | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

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