In this portion of the Houston Grass Podcast, Michael talks about the advantages and disadvantages of some types of grass for the Houston area. Call us at 281-431-7441 for answers to your questions and a quick quote for your lawn project.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Some Types of Grass
Types of grass is another thing that we’re seeing lots of folks look for. There are types of grass suited for our part of Texas. There are a lot. The one that everybody probably grew up with is probably St. Augustine if you live right here along the coast, As you move more towards the Austin, San Antonio area, more inland you’ll find Bermuda grasses. And in Dallas too, Bermuda grasses become more prevalent. I still don’t know that St. Augustine might not still be what you find. But we carry various types, and I’ll mention a few others that are out there as well.
In general terms, there is St. Augustine and there are a couple of varieties of that. There’s Bermuda grasses, which is the finer bladed stuff that you see like on golf courses and sports fields. And then there are Zoysia grasses, of which we carry three different varieties. You’ve probably seen them.
You don’t see Zoysia near as much as you see St. Augustine and the Bermuda grasses, though. There are fine bladed ones. There are thicker bladed ones. And there are probably a lot of different types of Zoysias. We only carry three of them.
Types of St. Augustine Grasses
Let me touch on St. Augustine. We carry Raleigh St. Augustine, which is what we keep out here on our yard year-round. You can come and buy pieces of it year-round, and we keep it in stock for the most part. That is what everybody is used to. That one requires at least six or seven hours of direct sunlight per day to survive.
So planting it up underneath trees would be ill-advised. We also carry Palmetto St. Augustine for that reason. Palmetto St. Augustine looks just like the Raleigh St. Augustine for all intents and purposes, and it requires at least four to five hours of direct sunlight per day.
Four hours is kind of an absolute minimum. And as far as I know, there are lots of grasses that tout shade tolerance, but I do not know of one for our part of the world that can survive on less than four hours of direct sunlight per day. So the Palmetto St. Augustine is what you would use in that case.
And you can mix those two varieties. So if you have a lot of Raleigh in your yard, but you’re noticing some thin spots from a tree, the first thing I’m going to tell you to do is to thin out those trees, raise them, thin them as aggressively as you possibly can, and get as much sunlight in there as you can because any grass that you have will do better with more sunlight.
Keep that in mind. But I would say if you have some thin spots in the yard, you don’t have to replace your whole yard with Palmetto St. Augustine. You could put the Palmetto St. Augustine just in the problem area and be just fine.
And you might notice a difference for a little while. They may go in and out of dormancy at different times within a couple of weeks. So you might notice one staying greener a little bit longer when we get that first freeze. Anyways, you can certainly do that.
That’s the St. Augustines that we carry. And those are generally the ones you hear most often.
Types of Bermuda Grass
Common Bermuda is what they generally use on roadsides. Speaking of those seed heads we were talking about earlier, common Bermuda has the little sprout that shoots up and then it sprouts off three little seed heads that shoot off that little stalk. I don’t know the technical terms for those things, but I do know that it produces a seed head.
And it is commercially available. It’s what they’re spreading out on the sides of the road in that green slurry stuff when they just build a new road or something like that, a new building, and they need to cover the dirt up. That’s common Bermuda grass seeds in that slurry that come up and it certainly has its place.
It’s kind of an ugly, stringy, coarse grass that we don’t recommend anybody put in their yard. We don’t carry it because we’re selling people grass that’s going to end up in somebody’s yard. But it has its place because of that seed head.
Say a drought comes along and it’s a bad one and it just kills everything back to the dirt. Eventually when it rains, that seed head hits the ground and those seeds are laying there and it’ll come back from those seeds. So it’s got its place. It is not for a homeowner’s yard in our opinion.
The closest thing we carry to it is called TexTurf 10. It’s a denser turf. It’s not as coarse-stemmed. The leaves are finer and it doesn’t produce many seed heads because they’ve tried to breed that out of it since those seed heads are not very sightly.
So it’s a nicer turf. It gets used in homeowner’s yards quite a bit. The Tifway 419 and the TexTurf 10 are kind of interchangeable, I would say. You see one in people’s yards and one on sports fields and one on golf courses.
I will say on golf courses, Tifway 419 is what is used on the tee boxes and on the fairways. Usually the putting greens are a hybrid of some fancy type of grass that they can mow super short. But the Tifway 419 is specific to golf courses, but homeowner’s yards, sports fields, stuff like that, the TexTurf 10 and Tifway 419 can both be used.
The Tifway 419 is even thinner bladed and can be mowed even shorter than the TexTurf 10. Both of them get better results mowing them with a reel mower. The mower it looks like the old-timey kind you just pushed and they were self-propelled by the wheels actually turning on the outside.
Now when I say, a rotary mower, that’s a traditional mower everybody’s used to, which has got the big blade underneath that spins like that. The reel mowers are the ones that turn like this and they cut the grass like scissors. Again, they have their place, but they are now gas-powered too, by the way.
They’re just like your regular push mower. But I think they start at about $3,000 and they’re very high maintenance because you have to sharpen all those blades frequently. And if you hire a service to come and use one of those in your yard, obviously they’re going to charge a little bit more, probably a lot more.
And when you drive by somebody’s house and they’ve got grass out front that looks like carpet, that’s what they’re using. They’re probably mowing it every three or four days, and they’re using a reel mower. And Bermuda grasses definitely do better with a reel mower than they do with a rotary mower.
Can they be cut with a rotary mower? Absolutely. Every pallet of grass that leaves here that’s Bermuda grass, I would say 99.5% of them are mowed with a rotary mower once they leave here. So that’s just a fact as far as mowing goes.
Types of Zoysia Grass
We also carry three types of Zoysia. We carry the Emerald and the Cavalier, which are the fine bladed Zoysias, and then we carry Palisades Zoysia, which is a little bit coarser. Again, all of those do better when you mow them with a reel style mower. We sell a fair amount of it.
The main thing we sell here is Raleigh St. Augustine. Second would be Palmetto St. Augustine. And then the Zoysias are certainly last. They’re more expensive. I would even say that the fine bladed Zoysias, the Emerald and Cavalier are a little higher maintenance.
I think it’s mainly because they’re not very aggressive growers and if they hit any bump in the road for whatever reason, drought, stress, shade or whatever, you get a thin spot and weeds pop up. And so that’s one of the drawbacks to the fine bladed Zoysias. However, they are not aggressive growers and they don’t grow up into your flower beds and stuff like that, like St. Augustine or the Bermudas would do.
On the flip side of that, there’s the Palisades Zoysia, which doesn’t have quite the shade tolerance of regular Raleigh St. Augustine, needing six or seven hours of direct sunlight, whereas the Emerald and Cavalier, the finer bladed Zoysias, can survive on four or five hours of direct sunlight.
They all do better if you can mow them with a reel style mower, specifically the Emerald and Cavalier. They really do need that reel mower. Not many people do it. At our farm, it’s the only thing that we mow it with. The blades are softer for all the Zoysias, but they’re tougher. And so unless you keep an extremely sharp blade, it kind of rips the grass more than it cuts it when it’s cutting.
So that’s something to keep in mind as far as the fine bladed Zoysias. I say they’re a little bit higher maintenance and there’s a reason for that. There are a couple of issues. They look fantastic. They certainly look fantastic when they come from our farm because it looks like carpet, because we’ve been mowing it with a golf course mower ever since it started growing.
So it’s a commitment. Most, like I said, the grass that leaves here is probably going to end up getting cut with a rotary mower. And it’s going to be taller than it’s intended to be. All I can say is keep a sharp blade and it will probably be fine.
The Palisades Zoysia grows a little bit more aggressively and faster. It is a little bit more tolerant of mowing with a traditional mower that everybody has. Its only drawback is its shade tolerance. It does not quite have the shade tolerance.
If I had to pick one grass to put in my yard and I had all the sun that it needed, Palisades Zoysia is what I would use. And I say that because it is different than what everybody is used to. It’s prettier than most of the grasses out there. Palisades Zoysia is very dense, very soft, and you leave footprints when you walk across it. It’s just a really nice grass. It is very easy to take care of. I tell anybody, if you’ve had St. Augustine your whole life and you’re used to taking care of St. Augustine, it’s pretty much the same program.
Watering is the same, fertilization is the same, mowing is the same. You can get away with using that rotary mower so there are certainly some great attributes of the Palisades Zoysia. All the Zoysias are fine, but if I’m picking, it’s going to be the Palisades as long as I get plenty of sunlight. Watering requirements are pretty much the same. Like I said, it’s straightforward and it is really nice looking grass.
Disadvantages of Some Types of Grass
I guess the one drawback to it is price. All the Zoysias are more expensive than the St. Augustines. We keep our price list always updated online. You can look, but right now, just thinking, I think that the Zoysia is probably 60 or $70 a pallet more, which is about 30% more than St. Augustine. And that goes across the board for all the Zoysias.
Another drawback for the Zoysias would be that we only sell Raleigh St. Augustine by the piece. So all these other grasses, including Zoysia, if you have a problem with a little area, you can’t just come by a few pieces of grass to do a repair. Because we can only sell it by the 450 square foot pallet. And unfortunately we just don’t have enough requests for Zoysia to be able to get somebody those pieces and get several people lined up at the same time.
We’ve tried before. Occasionally it works out, but it is very infrequent that that works out. So that would be a drawback to some of these other grasses that we sell.
Those are the varieties that we carry. There are other types of St. Augustines out there, but the two that we carry are the most common.
But Bermudas, there’s a couple of others that have come out. But the two that we carry, the TexTurf 10, the Tifway 419, are the ones that you hear most frequently and the Zoysias. People call us all the time. And I think that there’s a lot of other farms out there that carry a lot of different ones, and they ask me to compare them to Zeon or El Toro.
I do not know. Speaking in general terms, there’s the coarser bladed, like the Palisades, and there’s the finer bladed, like the Emerald and Cavalier. Those are the three we have chosen for lots of different reasons. And they seem to fill the bill for most folks. So anyway, those are the types of grasses.