ArtisTree Landscape is frequently asked what type of sod is best to install, and our answer is always “it depends.” Many residential communities limit and/or control the type of sod you can install — here in Southwest Florida it’s typically St. Augustine or Zoysia. Popular St. Augustine sod has several cultivars to consider based upon the traffic they will need to weather, access to water and sunlight, and the “foot” feel you prefer. Below, we’ll briefly compare three of the most commonly used cultivars.
The most popular type of St. Augustine is Floratam developed in 1972. Its vigorous, thick, course texture is the most drought-tolerant of all St. Augustine grasses. Floratam has very good color retention and greens up nicely in the spring. The wider blade width has a nice blue-green color that thrives in most conditions–sandy, loam, clay and even mucky soils. It has an excellent wear and injury recovery rate and performs best in full sun. Once established, Floratam tends to drown out most weeds that try to infiltrate it.
Palmetto is a native cultivar selected for better color and finer texture than Floratam. Palmetto has a nice dark green color with finer blades that give it a softer “foot” feel than its relatives—Floratam and Bitter blue. As with all St. Augustine cultivars, it also shows excellent color retention in nearly any soil condition. Palmetto is fair when it comes to wear under heavy traffic; however, it does have an excellent recovery rating. Palmetto is sensitive to insects and disease control chemicals, so be sure to contact your local lawn-care expert for proper care. This cultivar is good at controlling weeds and has rapidly become accepted as a landscaping standard since 1994.
Bitter blue is an improved St. Augustine cultivar that has a finer, denser blade texture. Bitter blue has a darker blue-green shade and is more cold-tolerant for cold pockets of Southwest Florida. Bitter blue doesn’t tolerate weed chemicals very well; therefore, it’s more susceptible to encroaching weeds. It stays vibrant throughout the year and recovers well from heavy traffic and injury.
St. Augustine turf represents a sizeable investment in your landscape, so do your research wisely and consult with a professional.