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Bermuda Grass vs St. Augustine Grass (Similarities & Differences)

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Trying to decide whether to install a Bermuda grass or St. Augustine lawn? Both of these warm-season grass types have their advantages and disadvantages as well as their similarities and differences. But which lawn grass should you choose? Let’s consider.

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Similarities and Differences between Bermuda Grass and St. Augustine Grass

Bermuda grass vs St. Augustine grass: does it have to be one or the other? Actually, it doesn’t. In fact, some property owners choose to install both to create a dense carpet of lawn that incorporates the best of both grasses. Even so, if you are looking for a single grass to plant, you should know that both of these grasses prefer deep watering and are low-growing. Both a Bermuda lawn and a St. Augustine lawn feature a deep green hue and broad leaf blades and prefer sandy soil. Both grasses also feature stolons, above-the-ground runners, that help the grass spread across the soil surface. 

On the other hand, there are also differences to keep in mind between these grasses. A St. Augustine lawn needs twice as much water as Bermuda grass and will also tolerate shade better than Bermuda grass. However, St. Augustine grass isn’t as resistant to cold snaps as a Bermuda lawn. Learn more about these grasses in detail in the following sections.

Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass is a popular perennial grass species that has a soft feel and medium green color. Because it’s tough, it’s a popular sod choice for golf courses as well as residential lawns. Bermuda grass spreads by seed, stolons, and rhizomes and spreads easily when conditions are ideal. Bermuda grass thrives in full sun and in soil with good drainage. It’s very heat tolerant but is also more cold tolerant than St. Augustine grass. Bermuda grass grows best in zones 7-10. Bermuda will tolerate sandy and loamy soil well but it prefers soil that’s deeply sandy or clay soil.

St. Augustine Grass

St. Augustine grass has a coarse texture–coarser than Bermuda grass–and will tolerate shade better than Bermuda. Also popularly grown on golf courses, St. Augustine grass doesn’t quite stand up to foot traffic as well as its rival. St. Augustine grass thrives in zones 8, 9, and 10 (Southern coastal regions) and prefers loamy or sandy soil. St. Austine grass can be spread by seed or stolons (but not rhizomes). 

Bermuda Grass vs St. Augustine Grass: Mowing Height

If mowing is a factor when choosing your sod, consider that Bermuda grass can be mowed quite short but St. Augustine grass needs less mowing. St. Augustine grass, on the other hand, should be allowed to grow taller for optimum health. If you need to cover bare spots, mowing Bermuda grass shorter will encourage its stolons to spread more quickly. Allow St. Augustine sod to grow upwards of two or two and a half inches. Mowing it too short will negatively impact its nutrient supply. Bermuda grass can be allowed to grow half an inch or an inch to achieve a beautiful lawn.

Bermuda Grass vs St. Augustine Grass: Weeds

By maintaining dense, healthy lawns, both Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass will discourage weed growth. When applying an herbicide on either type of sod, be sure it’s designed for the grass in question. Weeds find it difficult to get a foothold in soil when the lawn is growing well.

Bermuda Grass vs St. Augustine Grass: Lawn Funguses

Both St. Augustine grass and Bermuda lawns can be vulnerable to fungal diseases given certain conditions. For instance, overwatering your lawn can lead to a fungal outbreak. Both lawn types are susceptible to brown patch. St. Augustine grass is also vulnerable to grey leaf spot while Bermuda lawns are susceptible to dollar spot, pythium, spring dead spot, and leaf spot. Choose a fungicide that’s ideal for the grass in question. Also, maintaining proper growing conditions can reduce the risk for fungal diseases for both St. Augustine grass and Bermuda grass. 

Drought Tolerance

Both St. Augustine grass and Bermuda grass are moderately drought tolerant and highly drought resistant. Although, Bermuda appears to retain its good looks–its vibrant green color–during times of drought. Both grasses should be watered deeply rather than frequently. Opt for about one inch of water (including rainfall in your calculations) per week. Bermuda grass has a higher weather tolerance because it can withstand cold snaps while St. Augustine requires hot weather to thrive.

Shade Tolerance

Bermuda grass does not tolerate shade as well as St. Augustine grass. In fact, other grasses will find it tough to compete with St. Augustine grass when it comes to shade tolerance. Bermuda grass requires full sun to thrive. St. Augustine grass will still grow well even without direct sunlight.

Foot Traffic

If you’re concerned about heavy foot traffic or repeated foot traffic, you should note that Bermuda lawns have an edge over St. Augustine grass in this regard. Foot traffic and outdoor activities require good wear tolerance, which is why Bermuda is often chosen for golf courses and sports fields. In the south, Bermuda grass is the first choice for sports fields. 

St. Augustine and Bermuda Grass FAQs

How can you eliminate fungus from St. Augustine grass?

If your St. Augustine sod is suffering from a fungus, you can cut away the affected area if the patch is small. On the other hand, you should consider applying a fungicide that’s designed for this grass. To prevent fungus disease in your St. Augustine sod, be sure not to overwater it. Regular maintenance and proper care of your sod can help you prevent fungal diseases.

Will Bermuda take over St. Augustine?

Although some people prefer to plant both types of grasses in their yard, Bermuda grass can overtake large tracts of St. Augustine grass because it spreads over soil more effectively. St. Augustine spreads by grass seeds and stolons. Bermuda grass does too, but it also spreads underground via its rhizomes. Bermuda sod is regarded as an invasive species of grass.

Will St. Augustine grass be able to recover from brown patch?

St. Augustine lawns can recover from brown patch. You should see an improvement in your St. Augustine lawn a few weeks after treatment during the active growing season. Do not apply fertilizer to your lawn until it has recovered from the disease.

Which grass is better–St. Augustine or Bermuda?

That question depends on your property’s specific growing conditions and your needs. If you need shade tolerant grass, you should opt for St. Augustine. If you need a grass that can stand up well to foot traffic, you’ll want to select Bermuda sod.

Can you mix St. Augustine and Bermuda grass?

Yes, both of these grasses can be mixed in one lawn. Often, people grow Bermuda grass in the middle of their yard space and more expensive St. Augustine on the edges or in areas with less direct sunlight.

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