How to Grow Grass

Kate Mitchell

January 18, 2024

Are you looking to incorporate fresh green grass into your Gainesville landscape design? We've put together some tips to guide you through the process of establishing a healthy lawn. Learn what type of grass to use in our Florida climate, the best seasons to grow in, and how to maintain and care for your new lawn. Growing grass in Florida can take a bit of effort, but the results are worth it!

What Type of Grass?

If you're a gardener, you will already know that not all grass is equal. There are many turfgrass varieties, which look different from each other and have different characteristics. The best type of grass to go for will depend on several factors. Taking into consideration soil type, climate and how much direct sunlight your lawn area gets will allow you to choose a suitable variety; this will cut down on the amount of maintenance required later. How you plan to use your lawn also makes a difference to what type of grass is best suited.

St Augustine Grass

St Augustine grass, or stenotaphrum secundatum, is a variety that you'll find all over Florida. This quick-growing, drought-resistant grass can handle lots of foot traffic. If any areas do become worn due to heavy traffic, St Augustine grass will quickly grow back. The main drawback to this type of grass is that it grows up to twelve inches tall and requires frequent mowing to keep it neat.

Zoysia Grass

Lawn with palm tree shadows

Zoysia is another warm-season grass type that's well-known for standing up well to lots of foot traffic. A grass that prefers full sun and can tolerate drought, zoysia is well-suited to Central Florida's warm climate. It can take a little longer than other types of grass to establish, but will provide a thick carpet of grass that is ideal for entertaining or for families with kids who spend a lot of time playing on the lawn.

Bermuda Grass

Short, sturdy blades of grass

Another widely-used warm-season grass, Bermuda grass has very good drought and salt tolerance and is resistant to wear. Its dense coverage and fine texture make Bermuda grass a popular choice. It does well even in situations where frequent watering (perhaps with an irrigation system) is not possible. Be aware that this type of grass requires full sun and does not do well in shady spots. Bermuda grass will sometimes lose its green color in cool temperatures.

Bahia Grass

Tall grass with seedheads

Bahia grass, which was originally introduced to Florida as a pasture grass, is a popular grass choice for a low-maintenance lawn. Its root system makes it extremely drought-tolerant. Bahia grass needs fewer nutrients than other lawn grass options, and is even resistant to pests. However, bahia grass does not give such uniform coverage as some other varieties. Some people dislike the appearance of the seedheads that form from May through September; if left unmown, grass height is up to 30 inches.

How to Plant and Establish Grass

Grass with dew drops

In general there are three ways to go from bare ground to a lush, beautiful lawn. The first option is to grow grass from seed. This can be the most cost-effective choice, but it is also the most difficult and takes the longest. Bahiagrass, and some varieties of zoysia grass, can be grown effectively from seed.

The second option is to use grass plugs. These are small clumps of grass grown in a tray. Plugs are typically used to cover or repair small areas of damage or wear in your lawn. St Augustine grass can be grown from plugs; Scotts has more information here.

Perhaps the most common way to start a lawn is to use sod. This means taking large sheets or sections of turf and placing them in the ground. Most types of grass can be established in this way. It is usually more expensive to start with sod than to go for grass seed, and preparing the ground and laying the sod can be hard work. However, once done, your lawn will be ready almost instantly.

When Should I Plant?

Close-up of grass in the summer sun

Grasses in Florida perform better when installed during warmer temperatures. Generally, mid to late May will be the best time to lay new sod, and late spring and early fall will be the best times to plant new grass seed.

In Florida's warm weather, your grass is unlikely to completely stop growing at all. Growth may slow in cool weather, when the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In South Florida this rarely happens; Central and Northern Florida may experience these temperatures for a short time in January. If we do get freezes here in the Sunshine State, they don't tend to last long, so grass will typically bounce back and continue to grow once conditions improve.

How Do I Prepare My Soil?

Bare soil with a single green leaf resting on it

It's a good idea to begin by testing your soil to make sure the grass variety you select is compatible with the acidity level - otherwise, your new lawn might not be very happy and all your hard work will be wasted! Don't forget that you can amend or fertilize your soil if it's not quite right for the type of grass you want to grow. LawnMore can help with soil testing and can give advice on how to amend and fertilize your soil.

Once you've tested the soil and chosen an appropriate variety, remove any rocks, debris and existing plant life from the area. Use a rake to level the ground. If you want to install an automatic irrigation system or sprinkler, now is the time to do it.

How to Lay Sod

Someone unrolling a strip of sod

Sod should be laid within 24 hours of delivery. Water the soil lightly first, then fit the sheets of sod tightly together, cutting them as needed. Make sure to stagger the rows as you go. Water lightly but regularly until firmly rooted. Similarly, don't mow until the grass is established.

How to Plant Grass Seed

A blue container full of seed

If you're planting grass seed, use a seed spreader to cover the soil with seeds. Seed in every direction and go over the soil multiple times, to make sure you don't miss any spots. When finished, cover the seeds with a little soil, and water with a light drizzle, to prevent displacement. Water daily to keep the seeds moist until germination. This time will vary depending on the variety of seed, so check the recommendations on the seed bag.

How to Maintain Your Lawn

A sprinkler system irrigating a lawn

Once your grass is established and growing, it will need a regular watering schedule. An automatic sprinkler system is a great way to make sure you don't overwater your lawn, which wastes money and water and potentially harms your grass. Continue to avoid walking on the grass while it finishes establishing roots.

Eventually, it will be time to mow your new grass. Be careful mowing the first few times, and keep your mower blade sharp, so as not to tear up the young plants. Once you've started mowing, you can reduce watering.

Talk to the experts at LawnMore for advice on how and when to mow the exact type of grass you have, or let them take the mowing and fertilizing off your hands with expert, customized lawn maintenance.

Whatever options you choose, whether it's do-it-yourself or professional installation and maintenance; sod or grass seed; following these tips will help you through the process of growing grass so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your beautiful new lawn.

Get an easy, custom quote for your landscaping or maintenance project today.

For small projects, large renovations, and maintenance agreements for homes and businesses of any size, we’re ready to do an excellent job for you.

Get my project quote