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St. Augustine Grass vs. Bermuda: A Texas Dilemma

St. Augustine Grass

A battle’s brewing and it has to do with lawn care. If you’re uncertain which grass to root for, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of both contenders will help you make an informed decision between St. Augustine grass and Bermuda for your lawn.

St. Augustine Grass vs. Bermuda: A Texas Dilemma

Many factors go into this decision-making process, such as how much maintenance the grass requires, the climate you live in, whether or not your yard provides any shade and how much traffic the area will have to tolerate. St. Augustine grass needs a warm climate and plenty of water to flourish, while Bermuda grass requires almost no water when dormant in early fall or during drought-like conditions. There are pros and cons to each type, but knowing about each grass’s characteristics will help you determine which will do better in your outdoor spaces.

Water Requirements

Let’s start off with the most important element for plant life: water. Bermuda grass wins this round, if you are looking for a type of grass with lower water requirements. Patrick Dickinson, the Urban Water Program Coordinator at Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center, suggests St. Augustine will lose this category of the turf wars, because it greedily slurps up twice the amount of water as Bermuda grass. There are many factors to consider when choosing the type of grass that works best for your home, but water can be the most important if you’re wanting to conserve water or save money on your monthly water bill. Consider your city’s watering schedule and think about whether or not you’ll have the time to maintain a regular watering schedule for your yard.

Temperature Tolerance

While neither grass thrives when the temperature drops below 60 degrees Farenheit, St. Augustine grass does have a higher weather tolerance than Bermuda, but stressed St. Augustine becomes more vulnerable to pests and disease.

The good thing about Bermuda grass in this particular situation is that it requires almost no water during dormant months and does better than St. Augustine grass in fending off pests and lawn diseases.

Growth Patterns

When it comes to establishing your lawn, the St. Augustine versus Bermuda grass showdown depends on personal preference. You can easily establish a Bermuda lawn from seed; for a St. Augustine lawn, you’re better off laying sod.

While Bermuda seeds are less expensive, St. Augustine sod gives you more instant gratification. The maintenance for St. Augustine grass is high and requires regular mowing, fertilization and irrigation, while Bermuda grass requires less maintenance and can grow thicker with more frequent mowing and irrigation.

Once it’s established, Bermuda grass grows aggressively. It will require frequent trimming along driveways, sidewalks and gardens to prevent expanding beyond its own terrain. The maintenance for this grass type is considered to be moderate, but be aware that the more frequently this grass is mowed and watered, the thicker it gets.

Soil Requirements

St. Augustine has low phosphorus requirements and requires the same amount of potassium as other grasses. While excessive nitrogen causes thatch problems, fertilizing with nitrogen every month or two will help St. Augustine survive winter and bounce back in spring. St. Augustine grass does suffer without sufficient iron in the soil, so it might require amendments containing iron chelate or iron sulfate.

For a consistently beautiful lawn, Bermuda grass has higher fertilization requirements than St. Augustine. This type of grass needs more nitrogen, but Bermuda grass may need fewer of other elements, according to the strain of Bermuda grass, the turf use and the desired appearance.

Sun or Shade

The amount of sun falling on your lawn determines the winner of this round: St. Augustine handles shade very well and Bermuda grass thrives in constant sun but doesn’t grow well in shade.

Traffic Tolerance

In the traffic round of the showdown, the winner is determined by how resilient the grass is to human activity. Bermuda grass survives wonderfully when trampled and played on, while St. Augustine, on the other hand, has low tolerance for traffic.

Call an Expert in Lawn Care

Given the southern climate, water requirements may guide your decision on which grass to use in your yard, but that is not the only consideration. How will your lawn be used? How much sun or shade do you have? How do you feel about fertilizing? Is the grass really greener on the other side of the fence? Okay, you can scrap the last question, but if you’re looking for answers to the rest, contact our lawn care experts. In this battle, the only side we’re going to take is yours. We’ll schedule a consultation, evaluate your family’s needs and create a lawn care plan that works best for you. Get in touch today.

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