Florida state outlinePicture of a patch of sod in Florida

Florida Sod Guide

In this article we'll explore the optimal sod varieties for Florida. We'll also delve into their associated costs and the ideal times for laying to ensure growth.

warm season

Bottom line? If you want your Florida lawn to flourish, select a grass type that's in sync with the state's warm and humid climate.

Introduction

Basking in a humid subtropical climate, Florida is warm and humid almost year-round. This weather pattern has a direct impact on the best types of grass for the state, with some varieties flourishing under these balmy, damp conditions, while others struggle.

If you're planning to lay grass in Florida, set your sights on the growing season, typically spanning from late spring to early fall. This period blesses us with warm, moist soil, laying the groundwork for strong grass roots.

Steer clear of winter months, though, as the cooler climate can slow grass growth and leave it more prone to disease. Dubbed the "warm-season grass zone," Florida's grass scene is ruled by varieties that have adapted to its hot temperatures and high humidity.

These grass types often boast a deep root system, their secret weapon against drought periods. They also tend to hit a growth spurt during warmer months, while possibly taking a nap during the cooler ones.

Which grasses grow best in Florida?

In the world of landscaping, not all grasses are created equal. Each thrives in a specific climate zone: cool, warm, or transition.

A geographical map highlighting Florida located in the warm season region of the United States
Florida is a warm season state and falls in the region higlighted above

Florida, with its warm season climate, prefers a particular set of grasses that relish the higher temperatures. The following grasses are the easiest to grow and maintain in Florida:

BermudaWarm-season grass, drought-tolerant, dense turf, ideal for lawns, golf courses, and sports fields. The price per square foot for Bermuda generally ranges from $0.35 to $0.65 per square foot.
ZoysiaWarm-season grass, slow-growing, dense turf, good for lawns, golf courses, and sports fields. The price per square foot for Zoysia generally ranges from $0.55 to $0.90 per square foot.
St. AugustineWarm-season grass, shade-tolerant, thick carpet-like turf, ideal for lawns in southern coastal regions. The price per square foot for St. Augustine generally ranges from $0.50 to $0.90 per square foot.
CentipedeLow-maintenance, warm-season grass, slow-growing, low fertility requirements, good for lawns in the southeastern US. The price per square foot for Centipede generally ranges from $0.50 to $0.95 per square foot.
BahiaWarm-season grass, drought-tolerant, deep-rooted, used for lawns, pastures, and erosion control in the southeastern US. The price per square foot for Bahia generally ranges from $0.30 to $0.60 per square foot.

While it's possible to grow grasses meant for other regions with proper care, attention and timing, these are the most common grasses in Florida for residential lawns.

What is the best time to lay sod in Florida?

In a warm-season location, lay sod in late spring or early summer. This timing is ideal as the warmer temperatures and longer days will promote quick root establishment and growth. Avoid laying sod in the cooler months as the grass will likely enter dormancy, slowing down the root establishment process. So, for success, stick to late spring or early summer when it's 75 to 90 degrees out.

As you can see in the image below, you'll notice the most shoot growth (the grass above ground) and root growth during the summer for warm season grasses:

A graph showing the growth of warm season grasses throughout the year
Plant warm-season grasses in the late Spring, early Summer for best results

Best Grasses for Shade in Florida

Shady spots in Florida yards can be a bit tricky. The scorching sun is hard to escape, but some grasses pack a punch and stand up well even under those big old trees. One such hero is the ever-reliable St. Augustine Grass. This cool-season grass loves shade and generally requires about 4 hours of dappled sunlight a day. Take note, though - it's a thirsty champ and needs good irrigation to thrive.

Onto Zoysia grass, a true game changer. This grass laughs in the face of shade. It's versatile, it's sturdy, and only needs about 3 hours of sun exposure per day. Zoysia's tight growth pattern makes it an excellent defense line against weeds. But remember, friends, it's a slow grower. Don’t expect a lush lawn overnight.

Then we have Seville St. Augustine, a sub-species with a flair for drama. It's a dark, sleek green with a blade about ¼” wide. Love a garden with character? This is your pick. Seville doesn't demand much sun and 2-3 hours are typically enough. Now, it's not as salt tolerant as other species. Avoid planting it if your yard is too close to the ocean.

Our last contender is Centipede grass. Picture a grass that’s low-maintenance, grows slowly and loves the shade. Here’s Centipede for you! With a bit of diligent watering and about 5 hours of sunlight, this grass will make a cool carpet for your lawn. But beware: centipede grass can be a diva with its soil pH needs. It prefers the pH to be between 4.5 to 6.0. Any more, any less, and you've got a volt-face on your hands.

A picture of a shade tree over a lawn in Florida
Shade tree over a lawn in Florida

What grasses stay green year-round in Florida?

As with anything agriculture related, there is some nuance to this question. There are many grasses that can stay green year round in but it depends heavily on your location within the state as well as any microclimates that may exist.

The following grasses have the ability to stay green year round in Florida:

Grass TypeCaveats
BermudaIt typically goes dormant and turns brown after a few hard frosts in the fall and stays that way until temperatures consistently hit the 60s in the spring.
ZoysiaIt can stay green nearly year-round in milder climates without severe winter freezes or overly high summer temperatures.
St. AugustineIt can stay green almost year round, but will go dormant and turn brown during cool-season months in colder regions.
BahiaIt tends to stay green throughout warm weather but may go dormant and brown in cooler weather or during periods of drought.

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