Bahiagrass (with video)

ProPlugger Co - Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum) is a warm season grass that was introduced to Florida in 1913. It is native to South America and is a mat-forming turf grass light green in color. It is often referred to as “highway grass” and is in fact planted along roadsides for erosion control. It has a deep root system and is drought tolerant. It will also tolerate sandy soils.

Bahiagrass needs frequent mowing to prevent it from going to seed. It spreads by seed but mostly from above-ground shoots, called stolons. Once established, the dense roots will crowd out competing weeds. However, this lawn grass will thin out over time and is resistant to some herbicides. Because of its vigorous growing habit during hot weather, it requires frequent mowing. It is mowed to a height of 3-4 inches.

Leaf Texture

Coarse

Climate Zone

Bahiagrass grows particularly well along the southern coastal regions of the U.S., particularly coastal Florida.

When to Plant

The best time to plant bahiagrass is spring or early summer when the soil has warmed. When sewn in the fall, the seed must lay fallow until the following spring in order to germinate.

Light Requirements

Bahiagrass grows best in sunny locales; it grows poorly in shaded areas.

Watering Requirements

All grasses need to be watered daily during time of establishment. Once established, periodic watering is recommended for bahiagrass. An excellent way to water is with a lawn irrigation system set on a timer.

Planting Methods

Bahiagrass can be successfully established by growing from seed, plugs or sprigs. Two inch plugs are planted from 6 inch centers.

Soil Preparation

The best way to grow a nice lawn is to properly prepare the soil for planting. Whether you’re planting grass from plugs, sprigs or seed, the finished surface should contain at least six inches of quality topsoil, free of stones and large clumps of soil. Use a rototiller to work up the topsoil; then smooth it out with a garden rake.

ProPlugger Pointer

For easy planting of turf plugs, use the ProPlugger 5-IN-1 XL. This tool will save you some serious bending over. Simply push the ProPlugger into the ground with your foot to the depth of the roots of the turf plug (use the included depth rings to set the depth of the tool). Pull up on the tool to remove a plug of soil. Tap the tool to release the turf plug next to the hole you've created. Place the plug in the hole, then firm in the roots or root ball with soil.

PH and Fertilizer

Have your soil tested prior to planting. Most lawn grasses grow best in a soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5 (bahiagrass prefers a slightly acidic soil, in the 5.0-5.5 pH range). A high soil pH (7.0) may require supplemental iron. A soil test should also indicate how much fertilizer to add at the time of planting. A newly established bahia lawn requires moderate amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Feed once per year after the first year and cease fertilizing in the early fall.

Insects and Disease

If properly maintained, bahiagrass is pretty much disease and insect free. However, it is best to be on the lookout for chinch bugs, and other insects of lawn turf. Disease problems, such as fungus, are managed mostly by good cultural practices, i.e., mowing, watering and feeding.

Varieties

Pensacola (widely grown lawn turf), Argentine (dense forming turf with good insect and disease tolerance) and common (not recommended for lawns).