Bermuda, Zoysia or Seashore Paspalum

Bermuda, Zoysia or Seashore Paspalum

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CraigB – posted 17 September 2003 20:42

I am finilizing my lawn and am trying to create a nice, well maintained grass area (about 800 sf). My choices, as I see it, are Bermuda, Zoysia or Sea Shore Paspalum.

I live in Southeast Florida, I have well drained sandy soils and full sun.

redbird – posted 18 September 2003 05:29

Question – Why aren’t St. Augustine & Centipede on your list?

Seashore Paspalum – Not hearing good results from anybody on the mainland with this – great marketing program – poor real performance. Even the sales rep from the licensing company advised to stay away from it unless you NEED it, i.e., you are on the ocean’s edge. Although the grass can be grown on salt water (which is a natural weed killer) or gray water, it does much better on high quality fresh water. There are significant problems with weeds/insects/diseases – I know that the golf courses that have tried it on Jekyll Island, GA are less than impressed. Again, we get a lot of our information on new cultivars from the marketing literature – caveat imperator.Bermuda – I like it, have had a beautiful lawn with it, but it is extremely high maintenance (expect a 4 day cutting cycle when conditions for growth are good). Also, if you don’t have a reel mower (in itself a whole separate issue to purchase, maintain, use, etc.) You can expect brown swirl marks from a rotary mower and you will find it impossible to mow the lawn at it’s optimum height. The great thing about bermuda is it’s incredibly toughness and the fact that if you mow it frequently at a low height, it will quickly fill in any hole. In my mind, this amazing growth habit overshadowed it’s unrelenting intrusions into my flower beds.

Zoysia – I have heard that many of the zoysias don’t perform well in southern Florida due to sting nematodes. Empire is supposed to be resistant to sting nematode problems – but again, this is from the marketing information. I can tell you from my recent experience in installing this sod that, although it is beautiful, many of the marketing claims are “hype,” i.e., 7 – 10 day mowing cycle (right – I am mowing every 5 -6 days to keep the seed-heads at bay), good shade tolerance (nope – nowhere near St. Augustine). I still like the lawn, but I have learned the hard way that the sales information is what gets repeated over and over until it is accepted as fact – not always accurate.

I am really impressed with the performance of my neighbors’ lawns who have used Palmetto St. Augustine and Centipede. My Empire Zoysia is prettier than either, but I work myself to death on it. Plus, the Palmetto has much better shade tolerance – I am facing the prospect of lots of beds around the sides of my house, corners in the fence, etc., where there is too much shade for the Empire. The Centipede makes a pretty nice lawn with very little work.


CraigB – posted 18 September 2003 11:40

Thanks for the reply Mike,

Regarding your questions, I don’t want to use St. Augustine for several reasons, 1) I hate walking on it with bare feet. My objective was to create a nice area for cooking out, playing with the dogs etc. St. Augustine (in my opinion) is not conducive to that. 2) It requires a tremendous amount of water, even if it is “trained”. It does not go dormant when it is not irrigated, it just dies. 3) I’ve seen chinch bugs eat through a neighborhood of Floritam.

I have heard about centipede, but I don’t know anyone in my area who knows anything about it. I have read that it does well in clay and marl soils, and not as well in sandy soils, which is what I have. Thoughts?

I can’t find anyone who carries centipede sod; I have found seeds on-line however. Do you know anything about the quality of the seeds?

Again, thanks for the help, it’s great to get all the impute from people before making my decision.Craig

redbird – posted 18 September 2003 12:41

Centipede germinat4es very slowly (like the common strains of bermuda and the new seeded varieties of zoysia) 3 – 4 weeks. It doesn’t make a carpet-like flawlesssod like bermuda, zoysia or St. Augustine, and it tends to thin out over a period of years – particularly if over-fertilized. If over-fertilized it will do a quick growth spurt and then decline. Having said that, it makes a pretty decent lawn for the guy that wants to fertilize twice a year (it will need iron during peak growth to keep from yellowing) and mow every other week. It is really too late to get a good growth of anything from seed (unless you just do annual rye and water the heck out of it as a temporary fix until the spring).. if you do seed, I strongly recommend you look into hydro-seeding. Having said all that, one of my neighbors started a centipede lawn from seed this spring – it took the whole season to fill in, but it’s looking pretty good.

If you have a tiny area (800 sf) maintenance shouldn’t be a lot of work no matter what you pick. If you want soft sod, go with the bermuda or empire zoysia – (again no guarantee against nematodes on the zoysia, but the marketing hype says it isn’t especially susceptible) – Just make sure you have complete, full sun. The bermuda will tolerate no shade and empire will tolerate very little shade.


jr – posted 18 September 2003 13:42

The advice on this board borders on ridiculous in some cases. As a local turf professional in your area, let me make a case for seashore paspalum. Then you can make an informed decision, despite what this law enforcement officer from Georgia has to say against it.

Seashore paspalum is an excellent quality turf that has realistic maintenance requirements for the homeowner, not the case with bermuda. I know this, as a professional landscaper who has not only installed plenty of this grass, but maintain it at my home as well. I do not have to rely on somebody’s marketing information or the results from some municipal golf course maintenance workers.

Private golf courses who can afford good superintendants have had excellent results with this grass. Most importantly, it is an environmentally friendly grass that can thrive on recycled water. It is not particularly susceptible to insect or disease, allowing you to use less pesticides. Also, you may use salt water directly on seashore paspalum to control any weeds that should appear, requiring virtually no herbicides.

Fertilizer requirements are quite low. You will apply up to 3 pounds of N per 1000 sq. ft. per year. Any more and you will be sorry. All these characteristics make seashore paspalum a good choice for south florida, where watering restrictions and pollution from lawn chemicals are major issues.

One more thing. Some seem to think that seashore paspalum is considered an invasive foreign pest here in Florida. That idea is absurd. You do not see Home Depot selling Brazillian pepper trees, but you can get all the seashore paspalum you want.

CraigB – posted 18 September 2003 16:00

The plot thickens. My concern with Seashore Paspalum is the overall lack of knowledge that most growers have and the lack of a performance record.

I am not using graywater or saline water. I have well water and although quite hard, it is good quality. My point being, I don’t want to pay premium price for a sod that has characteristics I don’t need. I have one colleague of mine that lives a little south of the Cape on the island and has a problem with salt spray. She loves it, and has had a lot of success with it.

I know it is grown locally (Hobe Sound) so it should do well were I live. I am not even remotely concerned about it “getting away”, it’s just too dry where I live.

Regarding seeding of grasses, that shouldn’t be a problem for me. Although I want to get something started before the rains stop, we have good light until late November and it gets into the 70’s every day except maybe in January. Freezing, not likely.

Any more thoughts on the matter?


redbird – posted 22 September 2003 09:04

I can only say this – I considered the paspalum for a new lawn this year, mainly because of it’s beautiful, dark green, shiny leaf blades – and the gorgeous marketing photos of the golf courses in Hawaii. Two people gave me the input I listed above –

1) A professional groundskeeper on a golf resort island who has been working with the grass.

2) A representative of a large, licensed producer of this same sod.

Neither one had anything to gain by misleading me. Spend your money, take your chances – good luck.


redbird – posted 22 September 2003 14:10

jr,I have had a little while to ponder your response – and the tone of it. You seem to have a serious personal investment in your opinion – and as someone who is working with the grass, you are entitled to it. That’s what these forums are for – the sharing of information. The tone of your letter also suggests that this isn’t the first time you have encountered negative information regarding seashore paspalum (remember, we’re talking about grass – not your family or your dog :> )

So, if you are encountering opinions about the variety that are different than yours, perhaps not everyone is having the success that you are. That seems like a reasonable assumption to me. Honestly, I was glad to hear your post, because you are the first strong proponent of this variety that I have come across. Perhaps you know something that I don’t. I can only tell you that when a licensed grower steers me away from a product, stating that it is problematic, and suggests that I buy a cheaper product – that is information worth considering – and reasonable to share. Regarding your disparaging remarks about the skills of other turf professionals that you don’t know – that wasn’t a comment that I would be proud to make.

Bottom line – you have gotten too personal with this. That is how “flame wars” start (assuming the moderator would allow it – I don’t think that he will). But all that does is clog up the net with useless attacks and attitudes. I’m not really interested in all that.

Suggestion – if you encounter information that is different than your experience, share what you know. But be realistic about the fact that others may have an entirely different – and valid – experience.

Don’t take things so personal. Life is short. You are welcome to disagree. And remember – I passed on negative information about a grass that you like – It wasn’t an attack on you, your ego or your intelligence.


jr – posted 22 September 2003 15:24

You are the only one I’ve ever seen talk poorly about seashore paspalum, on this thread and one other. But that is not the point. The point is I am tired of seeing ridiculous advice being dispensed by people who have one small yard to take care of. I’m not just talking about you either. I’ve been reading this board for over three years now, and now I understand why I spend a significant portion of my day dispelling myths about lawn maintenance to my customers.

Maybe seashore paspalum doesn’t grow well in your area. That wouldn’t surprise me. My point was that you are not in the same area as the individual who started this thread, nor are you a professional, nor do you have any field experience with this grass. So providing advice was inappropriate, and I don’t care if you don’t appreciate my tone when I say that.

The Trollinator – posted 22 September 2003 19:05

I say go with Empire Zoysia. I love mine. Only had it 2 months, but it looks so much better than St. Augustine or Seashore Paspalum(my opinion).

CraigB – posted 22 September 2003 19:49

Trollinator,Where is your lawn? Have you seen a well maintained Paspalum lawn?

CraigB – posted 22 September 2003 19:51

Trollinator,Where is your lawn? Have you seen a well maintained Paspalum lawn?

redbird – posted 23 September 2003 05:18

Again, the information that I shared – word for word – was 100% accurate. I didn’t tell Craig that the grass had no value, that it wouldn’t perform for him – I shared verbatim information from a professional sod grower and a golf course groundskeeper – including the fact that I had no other information other than the marketing materials – which I have learned to be leery of.

Apparently, you are still the lone proponent on the forum for this cultivar on non-salt spray applications. Maybe that will change, maybe not. Regardless of your positive experiences, if others are having less successful experiences, then yes – that is worth sharing. Most homeownwers who are about to spend several grand on a new lawn installation would appreciate the opportunity to hear both sides of the coin, to hear all the available information. As you have said, in order to make an informed decision. It’s just plain arrogant to assume that your information and opinion are the only ones worth sharing – and bad manners to take it as a personal assault on your ego that someone disagrees. Some of us were taught this as young children. Apparently some of us weren’t.

I speak to people with respect – face to face or in an anonymous forum. Enough said.


Trollinator – posted 23 September 2003 16:37


The only paspalum I’ve seen are the plugs they sell at Home Depot for $6/tray. In my opinion, it’s expensive and not very pretty. I’ve owned a St. Augustine yard and now have a yard of Empire Zoysia. I believe I would have had more success with the St. Augustine if I had found these forums about 3 years ago. Between the 2 grass types I have hands on experience with, I prefer the zoysia. It simply makes a beautiful lawn. Out of the 5 palettes I had installed, not a single square of sod has died. I’ve had parts of the yard get too much water, other parts not enough, had a couple spots of fungus, scalped a few spots. In the areas where it gets distressed it will thin or develop some brown blades, but so far it just comes right back once I address the problem. If you have full sun and well drained sandy soil (pretty much what I have), I believe this would be a good choice. Good luck with whatever you decide to go with.

CraigB – posted 24 September 2003 08:59

Thanks for the info Trollinator.

Regarding Paspalum, I have heard mixed reviews myself. I think that what is most crucial in this forum is that everyone who reads and contributes understands the variations in climate, moisture and soil types that each reader/contributor may live in. The advice of someone in North Carolina is not even remotely applicable to me in south Florida. That is one of the problems that I have encountered when reading literature on the web. Many websites present information without regard to geographies.

Email and the web are very impersonal media. It is paramount that everyone take the necessary steps to clearly articulate their statements and rational when writing.

This is a really great forum and I have learned a great deal about turf. None of use wants to see the dissemination of incorrect information and thereby loose a potential reader/contributor. Lets take a step back and realize that for some it just their lawn, for others it may be their living.

So far I have one vote for Zoysia, one for Paspalum, one against Paspalum, and one against Bermuda (I think). Unfortunately, this hasn’t helped me much .

I suppose it’s time for some more research.


trollinator – posted 24 September 2003 12:20

You know, I forgot to tell you where I live. I’m in Central Florida. Thought I had included that, sorry. I agree though, with forums like this you’ve got to read, read, read.

redbird – posted 24 September 2003 12:46

Craig,Like Trollinator, I have Empire Zoysia and love it. It is by far the prettiest grass that I have seen (personal opinion). I did share the fact that it does not tolerate shade as well as advertised and it requires more frequent mowing than the marketing info states.

I live in coastal GA, 10 miles N. of the Florida border. The Empire marketing literature suggests that it is not particularly susceptible to the sting nematodes which devastate other zoysia and are a particular problem as you move south into Florida. Trollinator’s success seems to confirm the accuracy of the literature regarding nematodes – although it is a first season lawn. I hope his lawn continues to battle the little guys successfully! Bottom line, the stuff is soft, beautiful, and two of us really like it.

Regarding Bermuda, as I stated in my previous posts – it is very high maintenance. I just love a gorgeous lawn and I was very happy to put the work into my bermuda lawn at a prior residence – it was worth it to me. I agree that it may not be worth it to a lot of people. Unless your previous message was a typo, you stated that you were trying to establish an 800 sf. area. An area that small is easy to maintain pretty much no matter what you use – personally, I think mowing 800 sf. twice a week is no big deal – but it may be a big deal to you. 8,000 sf – that’s another issue!

Paspalum has been discussed. Different opinions – apparently you are encountering that in your private discussions also.

Again, you would have to check these cultivars out locally, but Palmetto St. Augustine does fantastic here in SE GA (I know, you don’t like St. Aug) and Centipede makes a surprisingly pretty lawn for the lazy man – fertilize twice a year, iron during peak growth, mow every 7 – 14 days (yep, some of my neighbors mow every other week – looks a little scraggly in-between mowings, though). I can’t say much good about Bahia – it’s just plain ugly and scraggly w/long, unsightly seed heads (if someone out there is a bahia fan, I apologize, honestly, I am not meaning to insult).

Check out these varieties locally. This is the perfect time to see lawns of all varieties – try to find ones that are in their 2nd, 3rd, or fourth year – a lot of lawns really look good at first – then the troubles hit.

Good Luck. Write back – let us know what you pick & how it works out.


bill@palmbeachfertilizer. – posted 27 September 2003 09:24

There is a technical side of managing turf and a practical side. The preference of turf types by the end user (homeowner, he who pays)is the real concern.

I have never seen a homeowner happy with bermuda 419, too sparse, thin, when standing on 419 and looking down at their feet. 419 in the homeowner setting is usually under fertilized and over watered. Also, very poor shade tolerance. When the designer specs bermuda the owner thinks of greens and tees, not the fairway, and is usually extremely disappointed with the end result. The mowing frequency is not practical for the home setting. Although, 328 bermuda can help satisfy the density requirements.

Seashore paspalum, like all “new” turf gets hyped with marketing info. The shade tolerance of paspalum is poor. The reduced fertilizer/pesticide needs may also be hyped.”Seed” sent out literature in a list server message that stated the jury is still out on this topic of reduced chemical requirements for paspalum. In a paspalum seminar in Palm Beach Gardens last fall, Dr. Duncan, the Georgia prof. that wrote the paspalum book, stated ” after six weeks of initial paspalum establishment, if you irrigate more than once per week, you may as well rip out the paspalum, over watering is the kiss of death. Most golf supers will do what they are told as far a maint specs, my limited feedback from supers is a positive one concerning paspalum. The other side of the coin are the practices of maintaining paspalum in the home setting. The irrigation systems are usually not sophisticated enough to allow a good “yardape” the flexibility ofproper care of turf and ornamentals, (i.e)over watering the entire landscape for the sake of a few flowers. Dr. Duncan stated ” that nutrient management is the key to paspalum success”, read the book. Also, his recommendation not to use the fungicide 3336, this product may be a good general fungicide, although, he stated, when I asked, that 3336 inhibits beneficial fungi that can suppress the pathogen fungi that cause the disease problems in paspalum. This specific info concerning paspalum and 3336 may be crucial in the maint of paspalum.

The zoysias are a close knit, tight turf preferred by most homeowners. More shade tolerant than other turf types, with managable problems. Grubs are a concern, as well as fall fungal problems. The grassy hard to control weeds can be managed with preemergence weed control products. The summer mowing frequency is suitable for the homeowner. Soil nematode problems in zoysia doesn’t seem to be a widespread problemin West Palm Beach, Fl area.

My turf pick for homeowners, zoysia, maybe el toro. The appearance of el toro, the management, the predictability of the problems makes this a desirable home lawn choice. The main problems with el toro can usually be contributed to mowing too low, just because a reel mower is used doesn’t mean it has to be set low. Note ! Most mechanics don’t realize that a reel mower set at 1.25″, really cuts at .5+”, you have to measure the turf after the cut to see what the actual height is. Over watering in the cooler fall months causes brown patch problems that chemicals can’t correct. In wpb,fl, the fall fungal problems can destroyzoysia, problem zoysia lawns will occur withirrigation frequencies at 3 or even 2 times per week. In the November/December cooler months I’ve maintained picture perfect zoysiawith the irrigation shut off for 20 day periods of time.

Note ! In Palm Beach County the warm winterskeep our turf green all year. I’m a fertilizer/hort spray contractor with hundreds of lawns under care. Home owner feedback is a daily issue. Bahia can be the ideal turf, it depends on the site and needs of the owner.

Bill wpb, fl

marioncarl – posted 28 September 2003 14:31

I have tried paspalum with no luck, to much rain, damage from kids, dogs, and the few dry spells,not to mention the mole crickets, any info on celebration bermuda would be appretiated

BarneyK – posted 07 June 2010 07:41

I just lost over 500 square feet of Sea Isle II to brown patch in a little over a week despite a preemptive treatment with a systemic fungicide only days before. The grass looked beautiful while the weather was dry (about six weeks of drought conditions with twice a week irrigation) and succumbed as soon as we began getting regular afternoon and evening thunderstorms.

I’ve had this sod for a year and a half and it has proved overly sensitive to sudden changes in rainfall, especially when we get a week or two of heavy showers (a common occurrence in North Florida). My soil is sandy and well-drained, so it dries out in twenty-four hours. This is my second major fungus infection, though last fall’s responded quickly to the same systemic fungicide.

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  1. Pingback: Paspalum grass for lawn | Walter Reeves: The Georgia Gardener

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