There are many reasons why homebuyers choose to live in a residential neighborhood, whether their home itself is a townhouse, villa, or single family home. Some people simply enjoy the freedom of not being in a multifamily building, where your neighbors watch your every move. Others enjoy being able to walk out their front door and literally smell the roses; in some cases roses that they planted themselves. One of the biggest perks of living in a residential neighborhood, however, is the opportunity to have a real yard complete with natural, living grass.
A lawn does not take care of itself, though. Here in South Florida, cultivating, fertilizing, and hydrating can take on a whole new set of challenges due to the heat, humidity, and varying cycles of rain and drought. Fortunately for HOA owners and groundskeepers, there are resources like the University of Florida's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the National Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Cooperative Extension Service, which have dedicated millions of dollars and countless hours of research to determine the best types of grasses for the state, and the best ways to keep them happy and healthy.
According to Teresa H. Monson, senior communications specialist for the St. Johns River Water Management District in Palatka, the most common grass in South Florida is St. Augustine grass. These broad-leafed grasses respond very well to the Florida weather, and grow best in full sunlight. They are available in two variations that grow better in the shade; Bitter Blue, which is a good option for shady lawns and has cold weather tolerance, and Sapphire, which is heat-, salt-, shade- and drought-tolerant, making it an excellent choice for coastal areas.
“Although St. Augustine grass is a popular choice among Florida homeowners, many people are looking for other alternatives to save water—and money,” says Monson, “either by installing more water-efficient grass types or by implementing water-wise landscaping practices that focus on 'right plant, right place' and use Florida-friendly plants, mulches and other alternatives to turf.”
Other popular grass varieties in Florida include Bahia, Bermuda (used primarily in golf courses), Centipede, Seashore Paspalum, and Zoysia. Each of these grass types have their own set of pros and cons, and most can be found throughout the state, with the exception of Centipede, which is primarily found in North Florida.