I just moved to Florida from Pennsylvania. In PA - we used to till the
ground - rake it out - and plant grass seed. Down here everyone seems to
use sod. When I asked folks about it - they say grass seed does not grow
here. I have lots of land. I have a rototiller. I would like to till the
ground and plant something to prevent erosion. Any advice - the land is
Welcome to Florida. We don't have grass here. We have vines that creep
over the ground and occasionally up the hedges. St. Augustine is the
most commonly used lawn grass here in W central Fl, but has it's limits
in shady areas. If you have dense shade consider ground covers and
azaleas. This link is to a great website - everything you will ever
want to know about what grows or crawls in Florida. Best bet is to take
some photos of the lot to your county extension horticulturist; by
email, of course. Doing an entire lot in St. Augustine is done by sod.
Filling small areas is by plugs, which spread quickly.
Lots of land? An acre? 100? North? South? Extension service can give
you tips on native plants, xeriscaping, etc. Good luck.
Our lot is 100 feet about 400 feet - shaped funny like a dog leg. It
extends from a main street on a corner with a side street - then turns
inward - and finally goes down a small hill to some lake frontage - lake
is about 4 football fields in area. I have lots of live oak trees - a
few palms - many tall pine trees - some open sunny areas - some wood
areas - no wet lands. Wife has planted lots of impatiens. We have some
azlaea bushes - a few other flowering plants.
Thanks for the luck.
How much of the area do you really, really want to be covered by lawn
grass? Taking out any trees? Sounds like a losing proposition as to
planting the whole thing in lawn grass, because:
Florida winters tend to be very dry. Have to irrigate.
Tree roots, especially pines, above surface, making mowing/tilling tough.
A lot of work in mowing, fertilizing.
I assume you have sandy soil, which has little in the way of nutrients.
Love the trees. Don't plant any northern "house plants", as many are
invasive species here. Some are really nasty, like asparagus fern,
wandering jew, bamboo, etc.
Pine needles make a mess.
Impatients are great. Azaleas can be tough to grow near salt water, but
can be done. Gardenias are heavenly. Mulch azaleas and gard. with some
of those oak leaves.
There are more shade tolerant species of St. Augustine grass, but all
need some sun. Requires thinning tree limbs sometimes. I would really
take some photos to extension service along with a tentative plan. I,
personally, would not want lawn grass without irrigation system.
Irrigation system doesn't go well with tree roots. You may be able to
get freebies from extension service if you want to plant xeriscaping or
native plants. They should have some good booklets and EDIS website has
lots of info. I lived in a not-very-dense subdivision, with wooded lots
on both sides. Wildlife was really great - possums, racoons, owls,
gopher tortoise, fox, hawks. I have never seen a poisonous snake, even
in much hiking in woods, but they are around. A friend found a coral
snake in her house (near water) after very heavy rainfall. Pygmy
rattlers common, even in the city. Enjoy.
Most southern grasses like centipede or zoysia grow very slowly from seed.
That is why everyone uses sod. The seed will probably get washed away
before it has a chance to do anything. To save money you might consider
sprigging it but you will have erosion problems untils the sprigs spread
out. Sod should be relatively cheap there. Have you priced it?
There are a lot of lazy people around. Yes, grass seed will grow in the
South just as well but we might have some types of grass that wouldn't
grow up North. I would suggest you go to Lowes or Home Depot and see
what is available. You won't get instant results like with sod but it
will turn out just fine.
Harry Everhart wrote:
Regardless of what some other responders have written, the most common grass
in Fl is St. Augustine grass in one of its varieties. St. Augustine grass
does NOT grow from seed and the only way to have a St. Augustine lawn is
with sod. The most common varieties are Floratam and Bitter Blue. Neither
is very shade tolerant.
From seed you can grow Bahia grass, which is not as dense as St.
Augustine.and goes dormant (and brown) in the winter. (By the way, the
requirements for % weed seeds in Bahia grass seed were recently lowered
severely, so a lot of the product had to be taken off the market until the
next crop, and it's very highly pricd right now. Best to wai until the fall
when it's more affordable. This is the wrong time to be putting in a lawn,
anyway.) There are other options, as well, but many eventually take a
different approach -- Fl weather is not conducive to good lawns without a
lot of expense and attention -- and lawn requirements are harmful to the
citrus that many like to grow on their property. Many long-time Fl
residents don't see any particular value in a well-trimmed or manicured lawn
since there is so little payback for such a lot of work. Especially with a
shaded lot you may want to go with more native plants and stay away from the
excessive pesticides, weed-and-feed, and high nitrogen fertilizers, which
are damaging to the Florida canals and water resources.
You'll find big differences between Fl and Pa. If you're serious about
learning about sub-tropical horticulture, suggest you sign up for a Master
Gardener program at your local extension service. You'll learn a lot, and
save yourself a lot of aggravation trying to grow plants that don't fit the
environment. A neighbor tried planting dogwood and a few roses -- the
dogwood didn't survive the first three months, and the roses look pretty
spindly for all the care and chemicals that have been thrown at them to try
and get them to survive. Better to get some of the tropical or subtropical
plants that do so well in the state.
At the very least, get the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods booklet and
follow the FY&N recommendations, which include recommendations for
fertilization and for pest control. The FY&N handbook is available from the
extension service or can be downloaded from www.hort.ufl.edu. (although the
site was down when I tried it to write this response.)
Since you joined us out here on the big beach called Florida, you might want
to take a listen to the Garden Rebel on the Radio...You can google to find
your local affiliate...He is our gardener guru....maybe you could call him
on his weekend radio show and pose your question...
St. Augustine is the way to go and I would sod it...good luck...Ross
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