Bermuda and St. Augustine grass are popular turfs in the southern United States. They are both warm season grasses that thrives in warmer temperatures. These drought tolerant grasses remains dense and green during warm spring and hot summer but go dormant in winter. So, which is the right one for you?
Both Bermuda and St. Augustine grass are warm season grass types resilient to drought, salt and heat conditions thus great for warmer tropical and subtropical regions. However, the two are different in several ways including level of watering, light conditions, mode of propagation and tolerance to foot traffic.
Let’s get deeper into their key differences and identification features.
Bermuda Grass vs St. Augustine Grass – Differences
|Bermuda Grass||St. Augustine Grass|
|Light Conditions||Thrives in areas with full direct sunlight. Bermuda grass needs at least 7 hours a day of direct sunlight||This grass is highly tolerant to shade conditions with moderate amount of sunlight|
|Propagation||Seeding is the popular and less expensive way of starting a new Bermuda grass lawn. Sod installation can also provide instant lawn||St. Augustine grass cannot be planted using seed. Sods and plugs are the approved ways for of propagation or planting new lawn.|
|Watering||Bermuda grass can survive drought conditions. In summer you can simply water two times per week||St. Augustine grass requires plenty of water to thrive. In summer you need to water it at least 4 times per week|
|Fertilizer||Bermuda can still do well in moderately rich soils without need for frequent fertilization||St. Augustine grass thrives in richer soils. You will have to provide plenty of nitrogen fertilizer on frequent basis|
|Wear and tear||Highly tolerant to foot traffic and heavy use. For this reason, it’s a great choice for golf courses and busy lawns||Does not withstand heavy use or high volume of foot traffic. Only suitable for lawns.|
|Maintenance||Cheap to establish and maintain with little watering, fertilization or mowing||Expensive to maintain due to higher requirement for watering, fertilization and mowing|
St. Augustine Grass Identification and Features
St. Augustine grass is coarse-textured with broad grass blade that rounds at the tip. It spreads by underground rhizomes, and above-ground stolons. This grass forms a dense dark green lawn.
St. Augustine grass thrives in humid subtropical areas with sandy soils. This is the right turf to grow if your home is located in coastal areas or in areas with partial shade. The grass creates a smooth dense lawn highly tolerant to heat, salt conditions. Weeds will not be a great problem as the grass will crowd them out of you lawn.
Propagation of St. Augustine grass is usually vegetative through plugs or sod. The best time to plant St. Augustine grass is in late spring or early summer when the day highs are 80-100 °F. You will need to provide proper watering at least 3/4 inches of water thrice per week for the first two weeks of planting.
With proper care, the grass is able to establish quickly to provide a lush green lawn throughout summer to fall. When established, watering can be reduced and you can now focus on mowing. Additionally, you will be required to provide nitrogen fertilizer after every 4 to 6 weeks for a healthy growth.
When winter comes St. Augustine grass will go dormant. This means that planting early enough will help St. Augustine grass to establish and store enough nutrients before winter kicks in. St. Augustine can perfectly be mixed with Bermuda grass to avoid any bare patches in your lawn when spring comes.
Although weeds are a minor problem with St. Augustine grass, grubs and worms can be a real problem. Without control, they can ravage your lawn. You can apply nematodes for grubs and worms control or use a chemical herbicide as directed by the product manufacturer.
Bermuda Grass Identification and Features
Bermuda is a type of warm season grass that thrives in warm tropical regions. It comes in many types with fine or coarse textured leaves. This turf spreads by underground rhizomes, and above-ground stolons.
Drought, salt or heat will not affect the growth of Bermuda grass. What makes it different from its main competitor is low water and fertilizer requirement. It also need more hours of direct sunlight to thrive.
Seeding is the easiest way of planting new Bermuda grass lawn. But if you are in a hurry for dense green grass, you can install sods. Warm spring and early summer is the ideal time to plant Bermuda grass. Proper land preparation should be done for faster sprouting of seed and establishment of the grass.
Bermuda grass remains lush and green in hot summer and this will extend into fall. When winter comes, Bermuda grass will go dormant. The grass will remain brown but alive until the arrival of warm spring conditions. Watering or fertilizing is not required during this season as the grass already stored enough for its survival.
Like St. Augustine, grass, weeds will not be a problem but grubs and worms do. You need to control them before they extensively damage your lawn. Thorough watering is important for first 2 weeks of planting your Bermuda. At least three time per week each with 3/ 4 inch of water. This can be reduced to once or twice per week once the grass is established.
Proper mowing is also important to the spreading of Bermuda grass. Ensure your lawn mower blades are sharp to avoid zapping the grass blades. However, mowing should be minimized during drought or when the grass is stressed.
A starter NPK fertilizer can help you attain thick green Bermuda grass within a short period of time. But this turf will not need more fertilization once the grass is established.
Which one is better?
Generally, Bermuda grass is a great option especially when it comes to maintenance. Choose Bermuda if you intend to have higher foot traffic on your lawn or you have limited access to water in your area. However, your area should be receiving full direct sunlight on the greater part of the day for this grass to thrive.
St. Augustine grass on the other hand will be a great option if your home is located in coastal regions or you have trees and buildings around that create some partial shade. If this will be your choice, be ready to spend more gallons of water and fertilizer for your grass to remain lush and green during summer.