Bermuda Grass vs St Augustine Grass: What’s the Difference?

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Whether you’re choosing grass for a newly constructed landscape or replanting an existing lawn, you might have heard there are two main types to pick from in South Florida: Bermuda grass and St Augustine grass.

Both tend to stand out because they’re easier to maintain, are weed resistant, and look great, even during the worst dry seasons. Read on to find out which grass is right for your lawn based on appearance, watering needs, and shade tolerance. You might be surprised to know which comes out on top.


Bermuda grass is a warm-season perennial plant with medium-to-dark green leaves. It has leafy, branched stems that are generally 4-6 inches but can reach 12-18 inches. St. Augustine grass, on the other hand, is a dark green, warm-season plant with broad blades. It is usually kept at a height between 2-4 inches.

Shade Tolerance

This is one battle where St Augustine is clearly on top. Most varieties of St Augustine are highly tolerant of shaded areas and also thrives with constant sun exposure.

Bermuda grass, on the other hand, is a sun-loving plant and struggles in the shade. There are varieties of Bermuda that can do well in shaded areas, so make sure to consult with a lawn care service if you prefer to work with Bermuda.


Both St Augustine and Bermuda grass require regular watering to help keep it green and lush. In times of extended drought, however, Bermuda grass fares better as it fends off pests and diseases while requiring very little water consumption.

St Augustine requires twice as much water as Bermuda, but it does have a higher drought resistance. With South Florida’s year-round water restrictions, you can still have St Augustine, but you will need to stay on top of your watering or consider lawn care services.

Soil Requirements

Before planting any grass, it’s a wise idea to test your soil’s nutrient levels and PH range. Any full-service lawn care will do this for you or you can do it yourself with a soil test kit from a gardening store.

St Augustine grows best planted in rich soil that contains either iron chelate or iron sulfate. This variety also requires potassium and needs to be regularly fertilized.

Bermuda grass is a bit less fussy and can be planted in both alkaline and acidic soils. Bermuda lawns do benefit from a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer every couple of months.

Foot Traffic

If you have kids or pets making full use of your lawn, Bermuda grass is your best option. You might have noticed Bermuda grass used for sports fields and golf courses as it’s very tolerant of foot traffic.

St. Augustine doesn’t handle repeated foot traffic as well, since it’s less resilient and can be easily damaged.

Bermuda Grass vs St Augustine: Which One is a Better Fit For You?

So, in the choice between Bermuda grass vs St Augustine, it does seem as if Bermuda takes the crown for requiring less maintenance and being more drought resistant. If you’re working with a highly shaded lawn, however, St Augustine might save you a lot of hassle down the track.

Both can work with the best lawn care service making use of the right tools to help you make the most of your lawn. If you prefer one look over the other, there are also varieties of each that can be better suited for your lawn. Contact us today to discuss your needs and we can help you find the best solution.

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