Emerald Coast Choosing a Turf Grass That Works For You

Skip:
Hi, this is Skip Orth with Father and Son Pest and Lawn Solutions, and today what we're going to be doing is talking about different types of grass. We happen to be standing in a field that's right next to our office, and in this field, we have several different types of grass, and we're going to look at what those types of grass look like. And we're also going to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the different varieties of grass as we look at them.

Skip:
So, right now what I'm standing on is an area of Zoysia grass. This is what Zoysia looks like. And one of the features of Zoysia is that it grows very dense. It's very thick. You can actually work your fingers in there. It's so dense. And because of its density, it's really good at choking out weeds. Another feature of Zoysia is that it's shade-tolerant. So right here, it's growing in direct sunlight, which it does fine in direct sunlight, but if you have a shady area and you're looking for a grass that's shade-tolerant, Zoysia is a good choice for shade tolerance.

Skip:
Zoysia is very good at resisting disease and insects. Now it's not bulletproof. It does require maintenance. However, it does require less maintenance than other types of grass. We find that Zoysia is a really good choice of grass for this area.

Skip:
So what we're going to do, we're going to move over here and look at some St. Augustine grass. We have some St. Augustine grass growing right here. And one of the features of St. Augustine is that it has these very thick fibrous runners. That's how you can tell St. Augustine grass. These runners are just very thick and fibrous. They're thicker than any other types of grass. And they have these really wide grass blades to them. As you can see in the St. Augustine, there's a few yellowing blades here, and what those blades are yellowing from is disease activity.

Skip:
St. Augustine is particularly susceptible to a disease called large patch. And what large patch does is it attacks the grass blades right at the base of the runner where the grass blades attach to the runner. And it'll attack that and it'll cause the grass blade to actually eventually fall off of the runner. Here's a good example of a grass blade that has some disease activity. You can see it's starting to wilt from the top and turn yellow from the top down. That's classic disease activity. It's common in St. Augustine, and it's not something to get particularly worried about. It's just especially during the spring and fall, you'll see that a lot of times in St. Augustine.

Skip:
St. Augustine is also a very shade-tolerant grass. A lot of people choose to use St. Augustine when they're trying to grow grass in a shady area, which is a good choice. However, it's important to understand that whether you're using St. Augustine or Zoysia as a shade-tolerant variety, no grass is shade-proof. It still has to have at least four to six hours of daylight in order to remain healthy and vibrant. You can't grow any grass in complete shade. So it has to have some light that's coming through. Another kind of weak point of St. Augustine is that it's susceptible to a particular insect pest called a chinch bug. And what chinch bugs are they're little tiny insects, about an eighth of an inch long with two little white dots on their backs. And those chinch bugs will have a mouthpiece like a needle, and they'll actually insert their mouthpiece into the grass and suck all the juice out of the grass.

Skip:
So the grass actually looks like it's drying up. But a lot of times, if it's St. Augustine, it's not a lack of water if it looks like it's a lack of water, it's actually chinch bug activity. Now St. Augustine is the only type of grass that chinch bugs will attack. Chinch bugs prefer very hot environments, direct sunlight, areas of the lawn with direct sunlight, or a lot of times you'll find them along curbs or sidewalks or next to driveways where that heat is reflecting off of that hardscape and making that area right next to the hardscape very hot. Chinch bugs prefer that environment. So if you see an area of your St. Augustine grass that's in direct sunlight, or right next to a curb, or some hardscape, it's very possible that's chinch bug activity.

Skip:
Okay now let's see if we can find some Centipede. Here is some Centipede grass. Now Centipede typically has a light green, or a kind of a yellowish green color. That's the normal color of Centipede. And actually if we pull up one of the runners of Centipede, that's actually a Centipede runner, and you can see how thick the blades are. The blades are not as thick as St. Augustine. They're thinner than St. Augustine. And one kind of a feature of Centipede, sometimes you'll see blades like this, where they're kind of red. You can see that grass blade right there, where it's partially red and partially green. There's a insect pest called a Spittlebug. And a lot of times, if you see areas where the grass blade is partially red and partially green like that, that's where Spittlebugs have been feeding on the grass. Now Spittlebugs aren't a serious enough problem to where they'll actually cause the grass to decline, but they'll just sometimes give the individual grass blades this reddish tint to it.

Skip:
Centipede is not as shade-tolerant as Zoysia or St. Augustine. It has some shade-tolerant qualities to it, but it's not as shade-tolerant as the other two previous grasses. So, it's best not to plant it in areas where you're going to have less than maybe six or eight hours of sunlight during the day. Centipede is a low-maintenance grass. It doesn't require a lot of fertilizing. And if you do fertilize it, it will respond very quickly to the fertilizer. And one of the mistakes that a lot of people make when they maintain their Centipede lawn, is they over fertilize it.

Skip:
When you over fertilize Centipede grass, what happens is, the Centipede responds so well to the fertilizer that it produces a lot of top growth. It's very thick and lush, which makes it look good. However, what it does is instead of growing roots like it should, it grows a top growth. So you end up with a lawn that has a very thick, dense, top growth and very little root structure. So over time, what happens is that lawn will just collapse. And it'll just die because there's so much top growth that the root system can't support it. And that's what happens when Centipede is over fertilized. Centipede is really susceptible to mole cricket activity. Centipede has very tender roots, and it has very tender runners, and mole crickets really prefer those tender roots and tender runners. So typically Centipede is susceptible to mole cricket activity.

Skip:
Okay. Let's see if we can find some Bermuda grass we can talk about Bermuda. Okay so here we have some Bermuda grass. Bermuda grass has very fine blades to it. And one of a couple of features about Bermuda is Bermuda is extremely drought-tolerant. You can see the grass here is not irrigated, has got no water, and we happen to be in a drought right now. We haven't had any significant rain in probably three weeks or more. And you can see this Bermuda is hanging in there. It doesn't look super good, but it's definitely hanging in there, and it's not going away.

Skip:
So one of the features of Bermuda is that it is not shade-tolerant whatsoever. So you cannot grow Bermuda in shady areas. It just won't tolerate shade. It likes a lot of direct sunlight. Bermuda is very traffic-tolerant. That's why they use Bermuda on athletic fields and playgrounds, because it stands up very well to traffic. Another feature of Bermuda is that it's very tolerant to herbicides. Basically, Bermuda is just a tough grass. It can be relatively low maintenance. You don't have to do a lot to it in order for it to survive. If you want to groom it and use more fertilizer or maintenance on it, you can. But on the other hand, if you don't want to, it'll survive on its own without any kind of extra maintenance. As you can see here, this area here is just kind of a utility area for us in our office. There's a traffic pattern right here where people cut across the grass and walk on it all the time. Again, it's not really lush, but it's really not maintained and it's not irrigated.

Skip:
So, if you're looking for really good, tough, low-maintenance grass in a bright sunny area, Bermuda is an excellent choice. It doesn't have any specific disease or insect problems that are worse than other grasses. It is susceptible to mole cricket activity, but other than that really doesn't have any disease problems. And it's a good functional grass. So those are the four main types of grass that we have in this area. We have the Zoysia, the St. Augustine, Centipede, and Bermuda, and that's what they look like, and those are some of the features of those different types of grasses.