7 Best Grass Types for Tampa

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View from the Davis Island dog beach in Tampa, FL looking out to the water where there are multiple sailboats

With Tampa’s hot, humid summers and mild winters, it’s possible to have a lush green lawn year-round, but only if you pick a warm-season grass for your yard. These seven warm-season grasses thrive in the Tampa Bay area: 

  • St. Augustine 
  • Bermudagrass 
  • Bahiagrass
  • Centipedegrass
  • Zoysia 
  • Seashore paspalum 
  • Buffalograss

1. St. Augustine 

St. Augustine grass, because of its heat tolerance, is one of the most common grasses found in Florida. It’s shade-tolerant, so you can plant it in sunny areas or under trees and bushes. St. Augustine doesn’t stand up well to heavy foot traffic, so it’s not a great option for families with dogs and kids. 

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads By: Above-ground stolons
  • Shade Tolerance: High
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: Moderate 
  • Maintenance Needs: High. Chinch bugs are a frequent problem with St. Augustine grass, and if your lawn is now properly cared for, this turf can struggle to recover after an infestation. 
  • Recommended Mowing Height: 2-3 inches

2. Bermudagrass 

Bermudagrass is a quick-spreading beautiful turf. Its fast-growing nature gives this grass a remarkable ability to recover from damage and a high tolerance for foot traffic. Bermudagrass doesn’t do as well in shade, but this turf can handle long periods of drought. 

Two variations of bermudagrass that are frequently used in Tampa are Tifway 419 and Celebration Bermudagrass which do better in dry conditions and can tolerate heavy traffic tolerance. 

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads By: Below-ground rhizomes and above-ground stolons
  • Shade Tolerance: Poor
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: High 
  • Maintenance Needs: High. Bermudagrass spreads extremely fast and can be hard to control around flower and garden beds and borders. 
  • Recommended Mowing Height: ½ – 2 ½ inches

3. Bahiagrass

Bahiagrass, because of its extensive root system, has excellent tolerance for periods of drought. Bahiagrass also can tolerate high foot traffic and is low-maintenance, is resistant to disease and pests, and you can plant it in sandy and acidic soils. 

Note: If you have saltwater in your irrigation system, avoid planting this grass as it has a low salt tolerance. 

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads By: Above-ground stolons and below-ground rhizomes 
  • Shade Tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: High 
  • Maintenance Needs: Some fertilization during peak growing season
  • Recommended Mowing Height: 3-4 inches 

4. Centipedegrass

Centipedegrass is a low-maintenance grass once established, but it takes some work to get it started. If you’re willing to put in the initial effort, it makes for a great Tampa lawn.

Here’s why: This grass can be planted in poor soils with high acidity or low fertility and has excellent drought tolerance. Centipedegrass can be placed in light shade but needs at least six hours of sun a day.

Downsides: Centipedegrass is susceptible to insects and diseases like nematodes. This grass is not made for families with kids and pets as it doesn’t have a high tolerance for foot traffic. 

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads By: Above-ground stolons
  • Shade Tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: Low 
  • Maintenance Needs: High
  • Recommended Mowing Height: 1-1 ½ inches 

5. Zoysia 

Zoysia lawns have grown in popularity across Florida because homeowners know what a pain in the grass chinch bugs can be. This durable grass is resilient to these pests and other insects and diseases. Zoysia can tolerate a moderate amount of sun but prefers between six to eight hours of full sun a day. 

Other benefits of Zoysia: Although Zoysia grass doesn’t have the fastest growth or recovery rate, it can handle frequent foot traffic. Because of its high tolerance for drought and salt, it works well for properties near the beach. 

  • Classification: Warm-season grass
  • Spreads By: Rhizomes and stolons
  • Shade Tolerance: Moderate
  • Drought Tolerance: High
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: High 
  • Maintenance Needs: Low. Zoysia does produce more thatch than other grasses, so it needs to be dethatched and aerated more regularly. 
  • Recommended Mowing Height: 1-2 ½ inches 

6. Seashore paspalum 

Seashore paspalum has an incredible tolerance for salt, making it an excellent option for Tampa homes by the coast. This adaptable grass can tolerate a high amount of foot traffic and works as erosion control and a permanent lawn. 

Note: Seashore paspalum does not tolerate drought or shade, so it should be planted in sunny areas and be watered regularly. 

  • Classification: Warm-season
  • Spreads By: Stolons and rhizomes 
  • Shade Tolerance: Low
  • Drought Tolerance: Low 
  • Foot traffic Tolerance: High 
  • Maintenance Needs: Needs moderated maintenance. Requires frequent mows and can be slow to recover if improperly mowed. 
  • Recommended Mowing Height: 1 ½ – 2 inches 

7. Buffalograss

Buffalograss has a high tolerance for heat and drought, meaning this grass will make for an attractive year-round green lawn in Tampa. This grass doesn’t tolerate sandy soils but can handle soil with a wide range of pH levels (between 6.0 – 8.0 pH). 

Buffalograss has a low tolerance for shade but a high tolerance for drought, so you can plant it in the sunny and dry parts of your yard. It is a low-maintenance grass that is easy to care for, but it will need help recovering from heavy foot traffic. 

  • Classification: Warm-season 
  • Spreads By: Stolons 
  • Shade Tolerance: Low 
  • Drought Tolerance: High 
  • Foot Traffic Tolerance: Moderate 
  • Maintenance Needs: Low 
  • Recommended Mowing Height: 1 ½ – 2 ½ inches 

Which grass is best for my Tampa lawn?

These warm-season grasses work well in the southern U.S. They have a long summer growing season and only go dormant during a frost, so you get a green lawn most of the year. But some of these grass types do better than others in high traffic areas. 

We know you’d rather spend more time watching a Bucs game or relaxing at the beach than researching grass types. Ask a Tampa lawn care pro about grass types and hire him or her to mow and care for your lush Tampa lawn.

Main Photo Credit: Michel Curi | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

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