If you’re in the market for a new bed of sod grass, it’s good to know which breeds to best in the North Texas region. Wherever you look, you will see that all the experts recommend Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, and Zoysia grass.
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Here are the main features of each of these grass types:
Bermuda grass grows very low to the ground, and it’s happiest at about 1-1.5 inches in length. Some find that using a reel mower is the most effective way to cut it that short without risk of “scalping” their lawn.
Like most Texas grasses, Bermuda grass needs a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. You don’t want to apply the treatment when it’s too hot, because that will risk chemical burns. Likewise, fertilizing just before a freeze or a lengthy cold front is a waste, as the nutrients are less likely to get absorbed by the root system.
Bermuda grass needs about 1 inch of water per week, including natural precipitation. If it’s been rainy, check your rain gauge to determine whether you can skip one of your watering days. During a drought, you can tell if it needs some extra moisture because the grass blades will be a bit wilted at the tip.
The blades of Bermuda grass are soft and fine, creating a comfortable carpet for bare feet to walk on. It can withstand high traffic a bit better than its counterparts, making it a great choice for families with children and/or frequent backyard gatherings.
St. Augustine Grass
St. Augustine grass does just fine with a regular mower, and is happiest at about 2.5 to 3 inches long. As a fast grower, you want to keep an eye on it during active growth seasons. It’s a shade tolerant grass, so some allow the blades in shady areas to reach as much as 4 inches before mowing.
St. Augustine responds well to “weed and feed” fertilizers that are high in nitrogen with a bit of herbicidal treatment mixed in. Soil testing can help determine what type of nutrients are needed to keep the soil balanced.
St Augustine grass should be watered deeply when the sod is first laid, to encourage root growth. For established lawns, water deeply at the beginning of the spring irrigation schedule, and then let it dry out a bit. If your footprint is visible when walking on the blades, it’s time for another inch or so of watering.
St Augustine blades have a lovely bluish tint, and are a bit wider than the other two grass types discussed in this article. It prefers full sun, but can tolerate a bit of shade and a decent amount of foot traffic.
Zoysia grass is an avid grower in the spring and summer, and it does best at about 1.5 inches in length. While it won’t go fully dormant until winter, its growth will begin to slow in autumn. At that point, it’s safe to let it grow to about 2 inches or so.
Zoysia grass is not native to Texas, so it really does benefit from a regular fertilization schedule. Once again, a nitrogen-rich mixture is best, with most zoysia grass turfs needing monthly fertilization throughout spring and summer.
Despite its robust growth, zoysia grass is the most drought-tolerant of the three turf grasses we’re discussing. In droughts and in areas with water restrictions, zoysia grass can be left to yellow a bit, and will eagerly bounce back as soon as the next rain.
It’s important to aerate your lawn once per year, no matter which type of turf you’ve chosen. But zoysia grass definitely tends to get thatchy, so don’t miss this step in your lawn care regimen. However, zoysia’s density also makes it traffic tolerant, and virtually pest- and weed-proof.