Florida’s heat presents some challenges for maintaining a great yard, but with the right grass type your Kissimmee, Florida, yard can be as pristine as Lakefront Park. 

    Here are the seven best grass types for Kissimmee lawns:

    1. St. Augustine grass

    St. Augustine grass, the most popular grass in the Sunshine State, produces a green to blue-green color and is quick to establish. With a thick growth and broad soil tolerance, St. Augustine grass is more shade and drought-tolerant than most warm-season varieties.

    Classification: Warm-season grass.

    Spreads by: This grass spreads quickly via stolons that crawl along the surface of the soil.

    Shade tolerance: With a preference for direct sunlight, this turf is great for the Florida sun. Certain varieties do well with moderate shade. 

    Drought tolerance: St. Augustine grass needs water to stay green, but it doesn’t require any more water than other species.

    Foot traffic tolerance: This turf, though it boasts dense growth, does not hold up under heavy use.

    Maintenance needs: During the summer, you’ll want to watch for chinch bugs. St. Augustine will go dormant during the winter (or what passes for winter here in Florida), once you stop watering it. You’ll need to dethatch and fertilize in the spring.  

    Recommended mowing height: To prevent undue stress, mow St. Augustine grass to a height between 3½ and 4 inches.

    2. Bahiagrass

    Bahiagrass is low-maintenance and a prime choice for sandy or infertile soils. Visible seed heads throughout the growing season may encourage you to mow more often. 

    Classification: Warm-season grass.

    Spreads by: Deep-rooted, bahiagrass spreads via stolons, forming a dense mat.

    Shade tolerance: Bahiagrass does not do well with shade; this is a good option only for open, sunny spaces.

    Drought tolerance: Bahiagrass does well without water. It’s an excellent choice for a large yard without an irrigation system.  Extended droughts will send it into temporary dormancy.

    Foot traffic tolerance: This turf prefers light use. The coarse texture makes it a less enjoyable variety for recreation.

    Maintenance needs: Bahiagrass is low maintenance. It doesn’t do well with salt, so it’s best for inland areas such as Kissimmee. It doesn’t form thatch or need much fertilizer, and it’s resistant to pests and weeds.

    Recommended mowing height: Mow every 7 to 14 days, depending on the growth, to maintain a height between 3 and 4 inches. If left unmowed, this grass will naturally reseed and recover from damage. The seed heads will become visible without routine mowing.

    3. Zoysiagrass

    Zoysia does well in high temperatures. When the mercury passes 80 F, Zoysia flourishes; when the mercury dips, Zoysia enters dormancy. Healthy Zoysia presents a light to medium green color, with a somewhat coarse texture and dense growth.

    Classification: Warm-season grass.

    Spreads by: The density of Zoysiagrass results from its growth via both stolons and rhizomes.

    Shade tolerance: Zoysia tolerates mild shade, but does best in full sun.

    Drought tolerance: Its strong tolerance of drought is what allows this turf to do so well in high heat.

    Foot traffic tolerance: Zoysia does well with moderate to heavy use from humans, but it will turn yellow with too much use from those with four legs.

    Maintenance needs: Zoysia requires routine fertilization and balanced nitrogen. It’s also important to treat pests and weeds should they become an issue.

    Recommended mowing height: Maintain a height between 1½ and 2 inches, which means you will likely be mowing weekly.

    4. Centipedegrass

    Well-adapted to the climate and soils of northern and central Florida, centipedegrass is a popular choice. With a medium texture and light green color, centipedegrass is often overfertilized to reach a darker color. But, this is not recommended as it increases maintenance needs and the likelihood of dead patches.

    Classification: Warm-season grass.

    Spreads by: Centipedegrass spreads by above-ground stolons, but is a rather slow-growing grass.

    Shade tolerance: With a fair tolerance for shade, this variety prefers full sun but does well with trees and other landscaped elements.

    Drought tolerance: Centipede grass survives drought conditions by going dormant and turning brown. To prevent this, water your grass when footprints remain visible after walking.

    Foot traffic tolerance: Heavy play will damage this variety, so it’s best for yards with minimal foot traffic.

    Maintenance needs: For a healthy lawn, it’s important to be vigilant against disease, insects, and weeds and to treat the turf as appropriate. Otherwise, with its slow growth and drought-tolerance, centipedegrass is fairly low maintenance.

    Recommended mowing height: During the growing season, mow centipedegrass every 7-14 days to a height between 1½ and 2½ inches.

    5. Bermudagrass

    This turf has a dark-green color and a coarse texture, making it rather hardy. Bermudagrass recovers quickly from damage, but needs some extra care to thrive in the Kissimmee area.

    Classification: Warm-season grass.

    Spreads by: Bermudagrass spreads vertically with both stolons and rhizomes, which creates dense coverage.

    Shade tolerance: This turf is best suited to wide-open spaces that receive sun throughout the day.

    Drought tolerance: Bermudagrass is very drought-tolerant. It requires irrigation only during considerably hot or dry growing seasons. Otherwise, light showers will take care of the rest.

    Foot traffic tolerance: Recovering quickly from stress, Bermudagrass is a great choice for especially busy yards.

    Maintenance needs: As mentioned, this turf needs a little extra care when compared to others. Bermudagrass requires careful nutrient balancing and will likely need pesticide and herbicide applications as well.

    Recommended mowing height: Mow weekly mowing to a height between 1½ and 2½ inches.

    6. Seashore Paspalum

    Native to subtropical and tropical areas, seashore paspalum grows in coastal and brackish environments. This turf is dark green and dense, with finely textured leaves.

    Classification: Warm-season grass.

    Spreads by: Rhizomes.

    Shade tolerance: Growing best with long days and warm temperatures, this turf does well with low light and cloud coverage.

    Drought tolerance: Seashore paspalum requires irrigation, but does just as well with potable water as with recycled or salt water.

    Foot traffic tolerance: With a dense covering, this turf is well-suited to heavy use.

    Maintenance needs: The dense growth inhibits weed growth, and the wide pH tolerance means it doesn’t need much fertilization. Too much watering and over-fertilizing will form thatch. 

    Recommended mowing height: To control thatch and produce a dense covering, mow seashore paspalum to a height between 1 and 2 inches. Grass clippings can remain on the lawn to restore nutrients.

    7. Carpetgrass

    With wide leaves and blunt, rounded tips, carpetgrass looks similar to crabgrass. This might be a deterrent for some homeowners. But with a tolerance for acidic and sandy soils, shade, and drought, this can be a good option for yards where more popular varieties can’t thrive.

    Classification: Warm-season grass.

    Spreads by: Creeping stolons; stems spread from the plant’s crown and grow horizontally above-ground.

    Shade tolerance: Carpetgrass grows well even with moderate shade.

    Drought tolerance: Requires irrigation only during severe droughts, but typically, this turf does not require supplemental water.

    Foot traffic tolerance: Frequently used for parks and other play spaces, carpetgrass tolerates foot traffic quite well.

    Maintenance needs: While carpetgrass survives without fertilization, you’ll likely want to apply nitrogen as needed to support growth. Otherwise, routine mowing is all that is required.

    Recommended mowing height: For residential spaces, mow weekly to a height of about 2 inches.

    Whatever grass type you choose, with a little attention and care, your yard can look like that at Lakefront Park. And wouldn’t that be terrific? Relaxing in a parklike setting in your own backyard.

    Need help caring for your lawn? Find the best lawn care firms in Orlando, and get advice and tips in our Seasonal Guide to Lawn Care and Maintenance.

    Main image credit: Miosotis Jade / CC BY-SA