Summer season in Florida typically is very hot and humid with frequent rain, components guaranteed to make the grass grow. New Florida residents are often surprised to learn how often the grass needs to be cut.

With the frequent summer rains, the lawn needs a trim about every five days. It does seem like you can watch it grow.

Florida lawns are quite different than those found up North. The grass is more coarse or tough; it is not soft to the touch and grows horizontally as well as vertically. The grasses are also sensitive to the heat; they will burn and turn brown if cut too short. Most lawn care professionals say to set your lawn mower to cut the grass no shorter than five inches. Cut it any shorter and the sun will brown the grass. So, even immediately after cutting the grass, it is higher that Northerners are used to seeing.

There are two main types of lawn grass found here; Saint Augustine and Bahia. I am not a turf expert and am sure there are other types of grass used in Florida lawns. In my experience, these two types are the most prevalent.

Probably the most popular grass for home lawns is Saint Augustine. It is a coarse grass that, to me, resembles a vine creeping across the yard. It requires a good bit of water, that’s why it does so well in the rainy season. It is recommended that about an inch of water a week be applied to the grass for best results.

The grass loves the sun, so much, that it is not very tolerant of shady areas in the lawn. It stays green all year as long as the temperature does not dip much below freezing. There have been different variations of the grass created that make it more resistant to bugs and weeds. A new variant claims to be more shade tolerant.

Bahia grass is a bit softer, is less water dependent and grows better in the shade. However, it is not so happy in the winter. Often, this grass becomes a straw color when the weather gets cooler in January. It remains brown until about March.

Bahia requires less watering than Saint Augustine, but keeping it weed free is more of a challenge. It also does not need as much fertilizer. I think it is not as attractive as Saint Augustine grass.

While you can plant a Bahia lawn from seeds, most often, sod is used to create an instant lawn. Sod or plugs are the only way to get a Saint Augustine lawn. (Plugs are small pieces of sod that can be planted about a foot apart to start a lawn).

No matter which grass you choose, be prepared to mow it often in the summer, if the rain is plentiful. In the cooler months, the grass will need to be cut only every 7–10 days. During a very cool winter, it may not be necessary to cut the grass for several weeks.


FOG sez:

The summer rains also bring on the mosquitoes. Why didn’t Noah just swat those two?