Grasses in Texas for lawns are dependent on largely where in this large state they will be planted. You can divide Texas into basically four climatic regions. these include the north-central plains, the south-east coastal plains, The great plains lying north and north west in Texas and the Trans-Pecos Mountain area west of the Pecos Valley. Growing season ranges from 185 days in Northern cooler areas to over 300 days in the Southeast. Rainfall is also a factor in lawns with a wide range from over 50+ inches in the East to less than 10 in the western areas. Soils also vary greatly and lime is usually required in the Southeastern part of the state.
TEXAS LAWN SPECIES PLANTED: Bermuda and St. Augustine grasses are found extensively throughout the state. St. Augustine is limited more to warmer areas due to not surviving winter temperatures as cold as Bermuda with its Northern area of adaptation stopping around the Fort Worth area. It is found extensively in Gulf coast areas. It is also the best warm season grass for shade problem areas. Zoysiagrass is also planted in Texas. Buffalo Grass is found in the dryer areas where rainfall is limited to less than 20 inches annually. Centipede is adapted for use in central and South Eastern areas of Texas especially on sandy, well drained soils. Tall Fescues are used extensively in the Dallas / Fort Worth area and Northern Texas, but generally will require irrigation to survive heat / drought.
LESSER USED VARIETIES: Bentgrass is used on golf courses for greens in some Northern & NE areas - It should NOT be used for a home lawn. Bluegrass is limited in use to mainly panhandle areas of Texas. Ryegrasses are used in Texas for fast cover and for a overseeding dormant warm season grasses to have a green playing surface in the fall / winter months. Bahiagrass is used occasionally in the SE for lawn and pasture areas where drought tolerance is important. For more on Texas lawns read the Extension sites below.
Carpet grass is a warm season, creeping, perennial grass that grows well on wet, poor soils where most others will not grow.
It is coarse bladed, makes a dense turf, can be grown from seed, shallow rooted and therefore is not drought tolerant. It is as cold tolerant as centipede and has poor salt tolerance. It's shade tolerance is about the same as Centipede (Definitely less than St. Augustine grass).*
Carpetgrass is a native grass to the interior Gulf states and similar tropical climates. Weeds and Bermuda grass can be crowded out by its thick sod. It is a good grass for erosion control and is a low maintenance grass on low fertility soils and can thrive if not mown without the addition of fertilizers. Carpetgraas in the austin ara is usually sold in pieces of sod from your local garden center.
Carpetgrass is ideal for those areas when DAMP moist soil is present. It will withstand higher traffic than many others in these conditions. It generally will NOT tolerate much shade... so St. Augustine may be a better choice in shady areas.
Establishment: Medium to fast depending upon the amount of care that is given.
Adaptation: From the edge of Virginia and across the southern states to the east side of Texas. Sandy damp soils of moderate acidity but not salt tolerant.
Richard L. Duble, Turfgrass Specialist Texas Cooperative Extension
From the sandy soils of East Texas to Florida and north to Virginia, Alabama and Arkansas, carpetgrass is found in fields, woods, along roadsides, pastures and lawns. Also known as flatgrass, Louisianagrass and as "petit gazon" by the Creoles of Louisiana, carpetgrass is native to the Gulf Coast states and other tropical climates. It is a creeping, perennial grass that can be recognized by the blunt rounded tips of its leaves, flat stolons and a tall seedstalk with two branches at the apex. It forms a dense mat and will crowd out most other species.
Description. Carpetgrass (Axonopus affinis) is a creeping, stoloniferous, perennial warm season grass. It is characterized by flat, two-edged runners or stolons; by wide leaves with blunt, rounded tips and by long, slender seedstalks that terminate with two branches, very similar to crabgrass. Stolons are flat, widely branched and root at each node.
Leaf sheaths are strongly compressed with fine hairs along the outer margin and densely pubescent around the nodes. The ligule is very short with a fringe of short hairs. The leaf blade is wide, flat, broadly rounded at the base, blunt at the tip and often fringed with hairs.
The seedstalk is tall, slender and often drooping. It branches at the apex into two slender, one-sided spikes, sometimes with a third spike below. Spikelets are oblong, acute, 2 to 25 mm long, pale green or tinged with purple, solitary on alternate sides of the rachis and forming two rows. The lower glume is absent, the upper as long as the spikelet. The anthers are yellowish white or slightly tinged with purple. Seed are yellowish brown and about 1.25 mm long.
Adaptation and Use. Carpetgrass is best adapted to the middle and lower southern states. It has about the same cold hardiness as centipedegrass and is well adapted to moist, sandy soils. It thrives in areas too wet for bermudagrass and tolerates more shade than bermudagrass.
The ability of carpetgrass to thrive under low fertility makes it suitable for use on low maintenance areas such as parks, roadsides, airports and golf course roughs. Its most objectionable characteristic, frequent and prolonged production of seedstalks, limits its use on lawns. Frequent mowing with a rotary mower is required to maintain a nice looking carpetgrass lawn.
Establishment. Carpetgrass, like all small seeded grasses, requires a loose, smooth and firm seedbed. In heavier soils, disking or rototilling, dragging and rolling may be necessary to develop a good seedbed.
Carpetgrass can be established from seed or sprigs. Seeding is often easier and less expensive. For a quick cover broadcast two pounds of carpetgrass seed per 1,000 sq. ft. of lawn. Rake the lawn lightly after seeding to help cover the seed. A grass drill can also be used effectively for planting carpetgrass seed. For large plantings, where a quick cover is not critical, plant 15 to 20 pounds of carpetgrass seed per acre. Again, a grass drill is the most effective means of seeding carpetgrass.
Seed carpetgrass after the last expected frost in the spring. Mid-April to May are ideal months for seeding carpetgrass. Do not seed after September 15.
Keep the soil moist, but not wet, for about two weeks after seeding. Continue light, frequent watering until the seedlings are rooted and beginning to spread. After the lawn is established, usually 8 to 10 weeks after seeding, water only as needed to prevent severe drought stress.
Carpetgrass does well on acid soils and on soils with a low fertility. However, establishment is hastened by light applications of a complete fertilizer. Apply a complete fertilizer at one pound of nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. at planting time and at monthly intervals thereafter until the lawn is covered with carpetgrass. Lime is not necessary unless the soil pH is below 5.0
Management. Carpetgrass lawns need frequent mowing during summer months to keep the seedstalks cut. During the growing season, new seedstalks are produced about every five days. If allowed to grow, the seedstalks grow to about 12 inches tall and produce an unsightly lawn.
Carpetgrass should be mowed to a height of 3/4 inch to 2 inches, depending on its use. The grass will tolerate the shorter mowing heights for use on golf course fairways with a 5-day mowing schedule. Where mowing is less frequent, the taller mowing height produces the best results. A rotary or flail mower is necessary to remove the tall seedstalks that develop with less frequent mowing.
Carpetgrass will thrive on moderately acid, low fertility soils. Under these conditions, it will crowd out bermudagrass. On roadsides, golf course roughs, parks and other low maintenance sites, carpetgrass will survive without fertilization. But, on more frequently mowed sites such as lawns, fairways, etc., occasional applications of nitrogen are needed. Late spring and early fall applications of nitrogen at 30 to 40 pounds per acre (1 pound per 1000 sq. ft.) are adequate to meet nitrogen requirements. Soil test recommendations relative to phosphorus and potassium should be followed.
Carpetgrass is not as drought tolerant as bermudagrass. On droughty soils or during periods of drought stress, occasional watering is needed to maintain carpetgrass. On moist sites where bermudagrass is not adapted, carpetgrass will thrive without supplemental water.
Pest Management. Carpetgrass is susceptible to common soilborne diseases such as brownpatch and Pythium and to most leaf spot diseases, but rarely do these diseases justify fungicide applications on carpetgrass. The grass usually recovers with little injury when environmental conditions change. The exception might be brownpatch in the fall which can produce unsightly turf for several months.
White grub and, in the southeastern states, mole crickets can cause serious injury to carpetgrass turf. Again, where infestations of these insects can cause a problem, insecticides are available to effectively control them.
Where weeds are a problem in carpetgrass turf, the hormone-type herbicides can be used for broadleaf weed control. Also, most preemerge herbicides are safe on carpetgrass and can be used for crabgrass control.
Bahiagrass was introduced from Brazil in 1914 and was originally used as a pasture grass on the poor sandy soils of the southeastern United States. Several varieties have become available for use as lawngrasses. The ability of bahiagrasses to persist on infertile, dry soils and their resistance to most pests have made them increasingly popular with homeowners.
ADVANTAGES - Bahiagrass can be grown from seed which is abundant and relatively inexpensive. Once established, these grasses develop an extensive root system which makes them one of the most drought tolerant lawngrasses. Bahiagrass produces a very durable sod which is able to withstand moderate traffic. In addition, bahiagrasses have fewer pest problems than any other Florida lawngrass, although mole crickets can severly damage it.
DISADVANTAGES - Bahiagrasses have a relatively open growth habit and the tall unsightly seedheads that are produced continuously from May through November. The prolific seedheads, plus the very tough leaves and stems make bahias difficult to mow. The coarse texture of several bahia varieties reduce their visual quality. Bahiagrasses are not well adapted to soils having high pH (alkaline soils) and grow poorly in areas subject to salt spray. They often appear yellow in spring and fall due to lack of iron and they can be seriously damaged by insects called mole crickets. Bahiagrass has low tolerance to most currently available postemergence grass herbicides. This makes weed control difficult in bahiagrass turf. BUFFALO GRASS
Buffalo grass is the only true indigenous warm season turf grass grown in the mid- southern United States. Buffalo grass is so named because it was a primary food source of the American buffalo stretching across the Great Plains into the Mexican region and in most of Texas.
Being a native grass it survives on some of the toughest areas and is drought resistant, curly, and low growing, fine in texture, surviving in hot and cooler temperatures. It was the only source that could be utilized by the early farmers who built their "sod " homes from the cut sections of the acres of grass growing on the plains.
Usage: Buffalo grass can be used in a native- type lawn and interseeded with wildflowers for that area since it grows in a rather thinly turfed pattern unless properly enticed to thicken for a full lawn. Meadow plantings of this grass are beautiful in the bluish-gray coloring of the grass. Golf course roughs and fairways. Erosion control sites, roadsides, low maintenance sites parks, playgrounds, natural settings, hospitals, etc. Can be planted with small sod or plug sections on a moist bed. Used extensively in pastures.
Watering: It does well on low irrigation and will turn brown and die back in the summer if not watered.
Fertilization: Low fertilization requirements with1 ½ to 2lb/1000SF yearly depending upon the usage.
Seeding: Preferably treated seed to get the best germination possible and the poundage depends upon maintenance program and moisture available with a basic method of 5lb/1000SF. -- Patience and time are needed in seeding Buffalo. It does NOT produce dense stands like cool season grasses (Fescue, etc.). Low establishment rates of seedlings can still result in a complete turf by second year. Weeds must be controlled during establishment phase by mowing, spot spraying and hand pulling. Planting should be in spring after soil temperatures are 60-65 degrees and climbing (day air 75-80).
Maintenance: Mowing depends upon the usage, watering and fertilization schedules. If grown for a low maintenance lawn then mowing and care can be kept to a minimum. Golf fairways of course will require more frequent and lower mowing and watering schedules. Has naturalized resistance to pests and disease.
Adaptation: Harder, denser, clay type soils and will not tolerate sandy soils, and in the mid U.S. Dry and more arid areas with some alkalinity, full sun.
Turf Varieties: Prairie,609,Texoca, Cody, Bison, Buffalo Pals Blend. - Common Buffalo grass is readily available as sod.
When to Plant: Bermudagrass is a warm season turfgrass. Plant Bermudagrass seeds in spring and summer when soil temperatures are consistently above 65° F (18° C). The optimum soil temperature for germination and root growth of Bermudagrass is 75° to 80° F (24° to 27° C) - Higher temps are ok, provided moisture is maintained.
Site Selection: Plant Bermudagrass in full sun on well-drained soil in the temperate, sub-tropical and tropical climate zones. Proper drainage is essential for successful establishment and the development of mature healthy turf.
Soil Test: Prior to seeding, a soil test is recommended. Apply fertilizer and other amendments per test. Add lime as needed to establish a minimum 6.0 soil pH. A lawn starter fertilizer is an ideal choice to apply prior to planting.
Seedbed Preparation: Loosen soil to a depth of six inches (15 cm). Level area to proper grade with approximately .5 inches (14 mm) pulverized soil at the surface. Rake smooth prior to planting. Do NOT use any herbicides or weed & feed fertilizers during planting. You must allow a period of 10-14 weeks prior to, and 10-14 weeks after seeding date in which NO herbicides or weed & feeds can be applied. Keep area mowed frequently to control weeds.
Seeding Rate for New Turf Applications: Plant 2 to 3 pounds of Bermuda grass seed (coated seed) per 1000 square feet (1 kg/100 square meters) for new turf applications. More seed may be needed when stands are established early or late in the season to ensure full coverage. The planting rate for lawns is much higher, than for pastures, due to the desire to have a higher plant population per square foot in laws. This works to create a dense turf when mowed.
Zoysia Grasses are grown successfully from the upper warm tropical season areas north to even in some areas of the cool season zones, depending on the variety. Zoysia makes a beautiful lawn with a fine to medium textured leaf. Zenith Zoysia is known to survive as far north as Chicago.
Zoysia grass originated from areas in Southeast Asia, China and Japan. It is a low growing, creeping grass, heat resistant, wiry, possibly uncomfortable under foot. Zoysia is slow to establish but aggressive and competes with weeds for its own space. Zoysia is a warm season grass that can be grown further north than many of the other warm season grasses. It makes one of the most beautiful, carpeted lawns when fully established. - Below: Compadre Zoysia on left, Zenith Zoysia on Righ All Zoysia Grasses will go brown (dormant) with frost or freeze and will remain that way until above 70+ temps return in late spring (Around May depending on location).
ADVANTAGES OF ZOYSIA OVER OTHER GRASSES:
•Unlike cool season fairways of bluegrass, ryegrass and/or bentgrass, zoysiagrass surfaces are planted once. The creeping nature of Zenith Zoysiagrass allows the turf plant to recover form wear and traffic without reseeding. This is a substantial savings from reseeding cool season grasses every fall.
St. Augustine is a turf grass widely adapted to the world's warm, humid (subtropical) regions. It is believed to be native to the coastal regions of both the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean. In Florida, St. Augustine is the most common planted turfgrass in urban, coastal areas. It can be grown in a wide variety of soils, but grows best in well-drained, fertile soils. To produce an acceptable quality lawn, St. Augustinegrass requires WATERING and FERTLIZING.
ADVANTAGES - St. Augustinegrass produces a dark to blue-green, dense turf that is well adapted to most soils and climatic regions in Florida. It has good salt tolerance and certain cultivars will generally tolerate shade better than other warm-season turfgrasses. St. Augustinegrass establishes from sod quickly and easily. Several different types of St. Augustinegrass sod and plugs are available from garden centers and sod installers throughout Florida.
DISADVANTAGES - St. Augustinegrass, like most turfgrasses, has certain cultural and pest problems which may limit its use in some situations. The coarse leaf texture is objectionable to some people. It requires irrigation to produce a good quality turf, and does not remain green during drought conditions without supplemental irrigation. Excessive thatch buildup can occur under moderate to high fertility and frequent irrigation conditions. It wears poorly, and some varieties are susceptible to cold damage. The major insect pest of St. Augustinegrass is the chinch bug and sod webworms.