Bahiagrass is widely used for pastures and along roadsides in the southeastern United States. As a lawn grass it does not produce dense dark green turf, but it is an excellent choice for infertile and sandy soils in warm drought-prone climates.
With near-woody rhizomes that extend laterally up to nine feet and prolific seed heads, bahiagrass can become a pest. In areas where it is planted in pastures and along roadsides it tends to invade nearby lawns and ball fields. On the other hand, the enormous root system results in high drought tolerance. Bahiagrass has low fertilizer needs, suffers from few insect or disease problems, and does not product much thatch.
Bahiagrass is not tolerant of heavy traffic, saltwater, or cold temperatures. Homeowners can establish bahia lawns from seeds, sod, or plugs.
Turf experts do not recommend common bahiagrass for home lawns.
Argentine bahiagrass produces a relatively dense dark green sod that is insect and disease resistant and cold tolerant, and is acceptable for lawns.
Pensacola is the most widely grown bahiagrass and the predominant pasture grass in the southeastern United States. It has excellent drought resistance and tolerates cold better than Argentine. While the prolific seed heads can be a problem in lawns, Pensacola tolerates cooler temperatures better than Argentine.
Bahiagrass needs water when its leaf blades begin to fold up, wilt, or turn blue-gray or when footprints remain visible in the lawn. Overwatering encourages weeds. Because bahiagrass is very drought tolerant, able to recover from severe drought
During active growth bahiagrass needs to be mowed to 3-4 inches high ever 7-14 days, removing no more than 1/3 of the height of the leaf blades. Mowing too low reduces the grass’s heat and drought tolerance, increases weeds, and suppresses root growth.
Because of the tough leaves and flower stalks, mowing requires a heavy-duty rotary mower, which in turn requires frequent sharpening. It is hard to mow bahiagrass evenly, so it often looks shaggy.
As with most turf grass, an annual soil test is the only way the fertilizer needs of a bahia lawn. In general bahiagrass has low fertility requirements, which makes it suitable for infertile soils. Nitrogen should be applied at a rate of no more than 1 pound per 1,000 square feet per application. Chlorotic (pale green) blades darken after an application of nitrogen.
Want to learn more about Bahiagrass? For More Information About Bahiagrass Lawns:
Because bahiagrass has major disadvantages in addition to its advantages, you are likely to find as many websites with instructions on how to kill bahiagrass as how to grow it. Here are a few websites that think that in the right situations bahiagrass has more pros than cons.
Bahiagrass for Florida Lawns. University of Florida Extension.
Lawn care guide: Bahia grass.
Bahia Maintenance Practices from Seedland.