How to Grow Bahia Grass

A hardy grass with a vibrant green hue

Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum) grass

John Robert McPherson / Wikimedia Commons /  CC BY-SA 4.0

In This Article

Finding durable, attractive lawn grasses can sometimes be a struggle, particularly in areas of the deep South or the Gulf. If you are struggling with sandy, poor, acidic soil and are unsure where to turn for a luscious lawn, look no further than bahia grass.

Also referred to as bahiagrass, this hardy, easy-to-care-for variety actually thrives in sandy, poor soil conditions. It has a coarse texture and can be used for erosion control and hay production.

Bahiagrass grows in stolons, or thick stems that root in short intervals. This means it is perfect for creating thick, blanketing lawns. At the same time, it isn't an aggressive spreader, making it easier to keep it out of garden beds.

Botanical Name Paspalum notatum
Common Name Bahia grass, bahiagrass
Plant Type Grass
Mature Size 8 to 30 inches tall
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Sandy, poor soil
Soil pH Acidic
Growing Time Summer to early fall
Flower Color Not applicable
Hardiness Zones 7 to 11, USA
Native Area South America

Bahiagrass Care

Bahia is a durable, heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant grass variety perfectly suited to harsh soil conditions that would cause other grass types to shrivel up. Instead, Paspalum notatum thrives in acidic, sandy, poor soil conditions and requires minimal maintenance.

Use this grass variety in areas with full sunshine and high humidity. Though this is a trying climate for many kinds of lawn grass, bahiagrass prefers this climate.

To keep your lawn looking thick and lovely, be sure not to overwater. Too much water can actually weaken the grass. Water as needed to keep its color strong and healthy.

As for mowing, keep your bahiagrass blades mowed to a length of about two to three inches. Be aware that the thick blades can be tough on poor quality mowers.

Light

Being well-suited for southern climates, bahiagrass thrives in full sun exposure. It is not a fan of shaded areas.

Soil

Bahia thrives in soil that many lawn varieties struggle with. It is an ideal selection for poor, sandy soils that are low in nutrients.

When it comes to soil pH, acidic soil is a must for this grass. Neutral or alkaline soil can cause problems such as iron deficiency.

Water

This grass variety has deep, wide-spreading roots that make it very drought-tolerant. Because of this, a bahiagrass lawn has low water requirements and does not need frequent watering or irrigation. Too much water can actually weaken the grass.

Temperature and Humidity

Bahiagrass is tolerant of many harsh conditions, including heat. Though this grass does not require large amounts of water, high humidity provides great moisture for this grass to thrive. The deep South and Gulf coast areas perfectly match the ideal growing conditions for this grass variety.

Fertilizer

In harmony with their ease of care, bahia lawns have low fertilizer requirements. Before adding any fertilizer to this grass, be sure to have a soil test done. If this uncovers any needs, give fertilizer based on these results. Otherwise, giving too much or unneeded fertilizer can cause more harm than good.

Varieties of Bahia Grass

Below are a few popular bahiagrass cultivars:

  • 'Pensacola' bahiagrass: This variety sports thin leaves and an extensive, deep root system that gives it extra heat and cold tolerance. It is more winter-hardy than other varieties.
  • 'Argentine' bahiagrass: Featuring darker green blades than other varieties, this type of bahia is often chosen for aesthetic reasons.
  • 'Sand Mountain' bahiagrass: With its narrow blades and cold hardy nature, 'Sand Mountain' grows better than other varieties in the northernmost areas of the accepted growing zones for this grass.

Growing Bahia Grass From Seed

It's not hard to grow bahiagrass from seed, but patience is key. This grass has a long and variable germination time. Once established, however, bahia is hardy and durable.

The best time to plant your seeds is in the spring, but fall seeding is possible in hot climates. Summer should generally be avoided as the grass seeds could end up overrun with weeds.

Rake the soil to prepare it for the seeds, then sow them 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in the soil. Keep the ground moist with a daily watering mist. In hot, dry conditions twice a day waterings may even be needed. Before you know it, you’ll see little sprouts and be on your way to a thick, durable, luscious lawn.