I am often asked what is the best grass to put in a home lawn.  The answer is that there’s not one grass that will be perfect for every situation or house.  There are so many different types of sod, and there’s a grass for every situation whether you have shade, sun, high salts, etc.   I am going to go over some of the most popular types of grass used in Arizona and California to help aid in your decision process.Let’s talk about the warm season varieties now, and I’ll touch on the cool season grasses in an upcoming blog.

Bull’s-Eye Bermudagrass (BOBSod) – This is by far the most popular grass on the market today and is used at Chase Field–home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and at the Padres PETCO Park.  BOBSod is a grass that has the most shade tolerance of any of the bermudagrasses and has a deep blue-green color.  It has a medium coarse leaf blade and is an extremely dense grass which provides a soft cushion for playing sports on, or for playing with your dog.  BOBSod can be grown in full sun or in partial shade as long as you receive at least three hours of sunlight during 10 AM and 3 PM in the summer months.   BOBSod has virtually no seedheads and can be mowed with a rotary or reel mower between ½ inch to 2 inches. It’s ideally mowed around 1 inch.  I have BOBSod in my front yard and it holds up very well to my three dogs and my 40 foot pine tree that provides partial shade during the summer months.

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Sea Spray Seashore Paspalum – Paspalums have been around for years and they have become popular in recent years because of how eco-friendly they are.  Yes I did say “eco friendly,” and that’s definitely true.  Paspalums are different in that they use 66 percent less nitrogen than any bermudagrass, have excellent drought tolerance, and can handle water that is high in salts or fresh water. 

Do you prefer to use organic fertilizers for your lawn?  Paspalums prefer you do and they only need to be fertilized twice per year with a product such as Milorganite.  Many people don’t like to overseed and want as short of a dormancy period as possible and this is the best grass for your situation.  Let it go dormant after we receive our first hard frost and watch it start to green up in February– not April– like most other grasses.   This is a grass that is grown from seed or stolons and has the look of a hybrid bermudagrass with a darker green color.  As you regular readers know I am a huge proponent of paspalum and I love the look and feel of it in my backyard.  I don’t think my daughter or three bulldogs could be happier than they are out playing in the lawn.  Take a look at the deep green color of the paspalum.  Sea Spray can be mowed with a rotary or reel mower and can tolerate heights of ¼ inch to 2 inches.  Sea Spray needs to be grown in full sun.

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EZ-Turf –   A very homeowner friendly grass with a open turf canopy and coarser leaf texture.  EZ- Turf is often used for low maintenance areas such as parks and playgrounds, but is not the best choice for a yard that will be used for sports or for an athletic field.  Its open canopy does not allow for the same footing of some of the other grasses, but it does tolerate wear and drought very well.  It is ideally mowed with a rotary mower at 1-2 inches in the summer and fertilized monthly to maintain color and turf vigor throughout the season.  When it comes to overseeding, it is as the name implies EZ-Turf.  It has an open canopy so it doesn’t need to be dethatched as much as other bermudagrasses and this also allows for excellent seed to soil contact.  EZ-Turf needs to be grown in full sun.

Tifway 419 – Tifway is the most popular choice for golf courses because of its upright growth habit and vigorous recovery from wear.  Tifway is the hardiest of all the bermudagrasses and has a medium fine dark green leaf blade that makes it a soft durable grass. It’s ideally maintained with a reel mower and mowed 1-2 times per week between ¼ inch and ¾ inch.  Tifway needs to be dethatched at least once per year because of its density and fertilized monthly throughout the growing season. If you are looking for a grass with great wear tolerance, and don’t mind a little more maintenance this is for you.   Tifway must be grown in full sun.

Tifgreen 328 – Tifgreen has all the characteristics of Tifway 419 but has more leafs per square inch and a little finer leaf blade. Tifgreen can be used for putting greens or for your backyard and should be mowed between 2-3 times per week with a reel mower at 1/8 inch to ¾ inch.  Tifgreen must be grown in areas with full sun.

St. Augustine – This is a coarse grass that is most often found in areas with high humidity such as Florida but it does very well in full sun or shaded areas in hot or humid parts of Arizona or California.  St. Augustine holds up very well to high traffic and can tolerate mowing heights from 1 inch to 3 inches.  It can be mowed with a rotary or a reel mower but it does not tolerate close mowing or overseeding well.  It is best to let go dormant over the winter months and grows best in full sun but can tolerate moderate shade in the summer months.

TifSport – TifSport is the first university certified bermudagrass that mirrors Tifway 419 except that it does provide a denser turf canopy.  TifSport maintains good color throughout the fall and greens up quicker than 419.  It should be mowed between ¼ inch and ¾ inch and grown in areas with full sun.  TifSport is often the choice of sports professionals as it has excellent wear tolerance and recovers from damage extremely quick.

Tifway II – Tifway II has a deep green color with a medium  fine leaf blade that has a slightly coarser leaf than Tifway.  Tifway II can tolerate heavy traffic, heat, and grows excellent in full sun areas.  It is an excellent choice for coastal California and can tolerate close mowing heights from ¼ inch to 1 inch.  Tifway II is a great choice for the sports professional  or for a home lawn that you can let go dormant for the winter and will green up quicker than any other bermuda in the spring and hold its color the longest in the fall.

We’ll do the cool season grasses next week.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions!

Thanks, Jay

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