St. Augustine Grass vs Bermuda Grass: Differences, Pictures, Comparison

Both St. Augustine grass and Bermuda grass are great warm-season lawn grasses. I pick them for my homes in warm areas.

To help you decide between St. Augustine grass vs Bermuda grass, remember that Bermuda grass is highly drought-resistant and can tolerate hot weather in summer without water while St. Augustine grass will require a lot of water to do well. Another major difference is that St. Augustine is shade-resistant while Bermuda grass does not do well in shady areas.

Quick Picks:

If you just want my recommendations, then these are good choices. For Bermuda seed go with…

Pennington Smart Seed 100086839 Sun and Shade Seeds
1,670 Reviews
Pennington Smart Seed 100086839 Sun and Shade Seeds
  • Uses up to 30% less water versus ordinary grass seed
  • Grass establishes quickly
  • Contains grass seed varieties that thrive in both sun and shade

Affiliate links and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on: 2024-05-27

…and for St. Augustine, go with these plugs: (note there is no such thing at St. Augustine seed, use plugs instead).

Looking for the Best St. Augustine Plugs?

I recommend the Sod Solutions St. Augustine Plugs. Click on the link below to get their latest price.

For more options, check out my article on where to buy St. Augustine grass seed.

Whether you live in Texas, Florida, or areas where the climate is a bit warmer than the rest of the states, you want to consider the differences, pros, and cons of these two kinds of grass before growing them on your lawn.

Let’s delve deeper and compare these two great turfgrasses, their similarities, and differences.

Affiliate Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate and participant in various other affiliate programs, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you from qualifying purchases.


St. Augustine Grass vs Bermuda Grass – Differences

Both grasses are great at choking out weeds such as dandelions, crabgrass, and even quackgrass. This is because both St. Augustine grass and Bermuda grass can grow thick and full, leaving no room for weeds to grow and compete with your turfgrass.

St. Augustine GrassBermuda Grass
It requires at least 5 hours of direct sunlight to grow and thrive really well. However, St. Augustine grass can do better than Bermuda in low light conditions.Bermuda grass requires full sunlight all day long to grow optimally. Less sunlight will retard its growth due to reduced photosynthesis.
St. Augustine requires twice as much water as Bermuda grass - ¾ inch to 1 ½ inches of water per week. This may be up-to 4 times of watering per week in summer.Bermuda lawns require watering three times a week during summer and can go without watering in winter because of dormancy.
St. Augustine grass is a fertilizer-intensive grass, needing to be fertilized every two months or with a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer every 10 weeks.It is recommended that you fertilize overseeded Bermuda grass, and do so twice - in December and February.
The easiest way to establish a St. Augustine lawn is using sod.A Bermuda lawn is best established from grass seed.
Saint Augustine grass has a higher tolerance for shade.Bermuda grass does not tolerate shade at all.
Mainly used for lawns.Bermuda grass can be grown for hay, on golf courses, and as a lawn grass.
Does not do well with foot traffic stress.Highly tolerant to foot traffic and stress.
St. Augustine lawns are expensive to maintain because they require frequent fertilization, mowing and watering.A Bermuda lawn is less expensive and easier to establish a thicker turf with frequent mowing.

St. Augustine Grass vs Bermuda Grass - Differences, Comparison, which one to choose

Appearance

St. Augustine has large flat stems and broad coarse leaves while Bermuda grass has short flat leaves. Bermuda grass is usually identified by its spikelets that are borne in four or five slender spikes at the tips of the upright stems.

Weed Tolerance

Both St. Augustine and Bermuda grass have great weed tolerance to common lawn weeds such as broadleaf plantain. They grow and spread fast, forming a thick, full lawn. As such, they’re able to crowd out and kill weeds on their own so you won’t use many lawn weed killers.

If your lawn gets easily infested by weeds such as crabgrass, planting either Bermuda or St. Augustine will help you control them easily because these two will easily compete with the weeds and overcome them with ease.

St. Augustine Grass Identification (Pictures)

St. Augustine grass Identification

St. Agustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is best suited for tropical and sub-tropical climates. Coastal regions are great because of the warmth, as the grass will thrive well in heat and do poorly in cool regions.

It is often described as a dark green lawn grass with broad, flat leaves. It grows fast, crowding and choking out weeds. Like Bermuda grass, it spreads above-the-ground runners (also called stolons) and develops into a thick, dense turf rather easily.

Various St. Augustine grass cultivars have been developed, including Floratam, Palmetto, Floratine, St. Augustine decline, Captiva, Raleigh, and Texas common.

Here are pictures to help you identify St. Augustine grass:

st. augustine grass

Floratam Sod

floratam sod

Seville Sod

Seville Sod

Bermuda Grass Identification (with Pictures)

Also referred to as, Cynodon dactylon, Bermuda grass has fairly short blades that measure 2 to 15 cm. The leaves appear to be grey-green. The root system is deep while the stems are a bit flat and can grow as tall as 30 cm when erect.

Mowing often activates lateral growth, making your lawn thick and full. When nodes touch the ground, the grass will grow and spread laterally on the surface, sprouting new leaves and shoots. Stolons, rhizomes, and seeds are the main ways this grass spreads.

Here’s a photo of Bermuda grass to help you with identification:

Bermuda Sod

Long Bermuda Grass

long bermuda grass

Bermuda Sod on Rolls

bermuda sod on rolls

See also my article comparing Bermuda grass vs crabgrass

Which One to Choose

The type of grass you’ll choose for your lawn depends on your preferences and the setup of your lawn.

Is your lawn covered with shade?

I would strongly recommend planting St. Augustine grass if your yard is surrounded by trees and buildings that block sunlight for most of the day. Did you know St. Augustine is the most shade-tolerant warm-season grass?

However, if your lawn receives a full day of direct sunlight, choose Bermuda grass as it thrives better under full-light conditions.

How much traffic will there be on your lawn?

Another factor to consider is traffic. Some grass species do well under foot traffic stress while others don’t. For example, Bermuda grass is great for heavy foot traffic while St. Augustine grass does not tolerate foot traffic so well.

What’s the overall climate like?

Both Bermuda and St. Augustine are warm-season grasses and will thrive a lot better in warm conditions. You can choose either of the two or mix the seeds and sod when planting your lawn. If you do, note that Bermuda grass can easily outgrow St. Augustine grass, especially with frequent mowings.

St Augustine Grass Pros and Cons

Just like any other type of grass, there are advantages and disadvantages to St. Augustine grass. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of St. Augustine grass to help you decide whether it’s worth planting or not.

What Is the Advantage of St Augustine Grass?

There are plenty of advantages to St. Augustine grass that tend to outweigh its disadvantages.

  • Let’s start with its color, which is a vibrant blue-green dense turf.
  • Adding to this, St. Augustine grass adapts to most soils and climatic regions in Florida, and certain cultivars have better shade tolerance than other warm-season grass species.
  • St. Augustine grass also requires moderate levels of maintenance and mowing, which is roughly every 5 to 10 days and less often when the lawn is drought-stressed.
  • I mentioned earlier that St. Augustine grass tolerates shade, but what I forgot to say is that it also does well in full sun. But that’s not all, St. Augustine grass is an ideal choice for Florida, Texas, and other southern states that experience sub-tropical to tropical weather.
  • Apart from competing well against weeds, St. Augustine grass is also a great choice for coastal areas owing to its tolerance towards salt water.

What Are the Disadvantages of St. Augustine Grass?

  • The above was the good news and the bad news starts with the fact that St. Augustine grass isn’t hardy to cold weather, meaning it only thrives in areas/regions with mild winters.
  • Further, St. Augustine grass is vulnerable to drought and, therefore requires supplemental irrigation.
  • Perhaps the biggest downside of a St. Augustine lawn is that it needs twice as much fertilizer as Bermuda grass, which in terms of numbers is approximately 3 to 6 pounds per 1,000 square feet annually.
  • If you’re thinking of playing ball or having a large BBQ party on your St. Augustine lawn, think again because this type of turfgrass doesn’t handle traffic as well as some other types of grasses.
  • Since St. Augustine grass grows thick, it is great at choking out weeds but is highly susceptible to common diseases and pests, especially during the spring and summer growing seasons. But no turf is completely resistant to pests and disease.

Bermuda Grass Pros and Cons

Bermuda grass is native to tropical and sub-tropical countries worldwide and offers myriad benefits for homeowners but does come with a few flaws.

What Is the Advantage of Bermuda Grass?

  • For starters, this warm-season grass is valued for unmatched heat and drought tolerance.
  • Bermuda grass is highly resilient to lawn damage.
  • Bermuda grass has an exceptional ability to withstand heavy use and recuperate quickly. If your lawn receives heavy foot traffic, don’t think twice about planting Bermuda grass since it bounces back green and straight even after being used over and over again.
  • Bermuda grass is cheap to grow and maintain.
  • Bermuda grass grows fast and spreads quickly, and is widely used in parks and golf courses.
  • Bermuda grass is versatile in that it can be grown from seed, plug, or sod.
  • While many warm-season grasses take a while to develop deep roots that can survive harsh, hot summers, Bermuda grass doesn’t take long to become a dense turf that can tolerate the harshest summer temperatures.

What Are the Disadvantages of Bermuda Grass?

  • Bermuda grass can handle blazing hot summer weather temperatures, but can’t handle cold or overly wet conditions. This may prove disadvantageous to several homeowners, especially those living in the northern part of the US.
  • Additionally, Bermuda grass can handle long periods of drought but can experience severe browning if the drought lasts more than 3 – 4 weeks. You can prevent this unsightly issue by adding extra water.
  • Unlike St. Augustine grass which can grow well in full shade, Bermuda grass needs sunlight to help with its rapid growth and gets damaged in shaded areas of your lawn.
  • Bermuda grass may check all the right boxes so far but will disappoint if you have a garden near your lawn and here’s why! Remember, bermuda grass grows like an invasive weed, therefore, is challenging to keep it contained. This can lead to issues when it appears uninvited in your garden beds or even on your neighbor’s lawn.

Best St Augustine Grass Seed

Many homeowners are led to believe that a St. Augustine lawn can be planted from scratch with grass seeds or to fill bare spots. But this is a big mistake, mainly because people are less knowledgeable about the differences between warm-season grasses and cool-season grasses.

While all cool-season grasses can be grown from seed, it doesn’t work the same way for warm-season grasses.

There are two reasons why warm-season grasses can’t be seeded:

  1. First is because these seeds are highly variable and will result in a non-uniform lawn
  2. Second, hybrid varieties don’t produce viable seeds

Hence warm-season grasses are usually grown via sod, sprigs, or plugs.

So the answer to the question of what is the best St. Augustine grass seed is there is none available to buy either online or at your local garden center.

Where to Buy St Augustine Grass Seed

You will probably not be able to get your hands on St. Augustine grass seeds but you can buy St. Augustine grass sod and plugs.

Is St Augustine More Expensive than Bermuda?

St. Augustine grass is a little less expensive than Bermuda grass at $0.30 to $0.80 per square foot compared to $0.35 to $0.85 per square foot. The cost of St Augustine grass also depends on where you shop and whether you’re buying grass sod or plugs.


FAQs 

Can I Mix Bermuda Grass with St Augustine?

Bermuda grass plays nice with St. Augustine grass. You can use this mix to quickly and affordably fix bare spots in your lawn that would take much longer with sod.

Is St Augustine a Good Lawn Grass?

St. Augustine grass is a great choice for lawns in warmer climates owing to its ability to withstand scorching summer months.

Apart from its ability to withstand heat and light, St. Augustine grass is also noted for its shade tolerance.

Is St Augustine Invasive?

Just like Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass is invasive and spreads quickly. However, there are a few things you can do to stop St. Augustine grass from spreading such as keeping your lawn mowed at roughly 1.5–2 inches in height.


Final Thoughts

Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass are two of the most preferred warm-season for several great reasons. Bermuda grass is more drought-tolerant than St. Augustine grass but doesn’t do well in shady areas of your lawn for which the latter is a great choice.


References

13 thoughts on “St. Augustine Grass vs Bermuda Grass: Differences, Pictures, Comparison”

  1. I live in N.E. Texas. What would the best grass seed for my location and when should I seed it?
    I have seen videos where I should maybe spray Tenacity for the weeds then use an aerator before seeding, is that right?

    Reply
    • Tenacity can kill certain types of warm-season grass so I’d figure out what kind of turf it is before spraying.
      But otherwise, Tenacity is great at getting rid of just about everything, Q4 is another great post-emergent that also tackles nutsedge but unnecessary otherwise.

      Reply
  2. Alex K., Thanks for an insightful article. I noticed a couple of discrepancies that, when corrected, will make it even better. You said in the blue table that bermuda required up to “3 times of watering in the summer”, but earlier you correctly said 3 times A WEEK during the summer. Along the same lines, you said at the beginning (in the aqua-colored call out box) “In summary, Bermuda grass is highly drought-resistant and can tolerate hot weather in summer WITHOUT WATER . . .) Both of these miscues could be very misleading if not corrected. Also, you correctly made the point of bermuda’s need for full sunlight, but said this later: “However, if your lawn receives a full day of direct sunlight, choose Bermuda grass as it thrives better under LOW-LIGHT conditions.” I think you meant “thrives better under FULL-light conditions”. With those things corrected, this is a very useful article – thanks!!

    Reply
    • Hi Steve,
      Thank you very much for pointing out those discrepancies. Quite a mix-up I ended up with there when editing the final copy. I have corrected the errors to do with water and sunlight requirements for Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass.

      Really appreciated.

      Reply
  3. Hello Alex,

    We have some new St. Augustine sod that was just laid to build out the flower beds a little more. Located in South Florida and there are still some spots that are a little bare with some weeds. Can we add seed to fill in these spots? We had a full backyard of new sod put down 2 years ago and under the trees as time went on weeds just grew, so that’s why we filled in this year. Any suggestions so that this doesn’t happen again. Note we had all the trees and palms completely pruned so more sunlight reaches these spots.
    Thank you.
    Cynthia

    Reply
  4. Is it too late in the season for me to throw some Bermuda seed. Have a semi-large area of StAug that died I believe due to lack of water over the summer. I live in St Augustine area(no pun intended

    Reply
    • Hi Craig, sorry for the late reply. Yes probably too late now to get the best benefit. Best to wait until mid Feb/March in your area to put down new bermuda seed.

      Reply
  5. Hey Alex! Nice article! I live in central Texas and have full sun in the front (coastal Bermuda) and lots of shade in the back (St Augustine). I also have chickens who have really done a disservice to my St Augustine In the back yard. Just curious if there is a grass that will survive the chickens?

    Reply
  6. I live in zone 10a in a San Diego suburb. Do both Bermuda and St Augustine grasses go dormant in winter when night temperature can reach 25 degrees F? Will they recover in the spring and completely grow back? And during the summer, does Bermuda grass need 1/2 to 1/3 the water of Saint Augustine grass? Thanks In advance for your answers!

    Reply
    • Bermuda will go dormant in winter but will come back once temps are normally above 70 degrees at night. St Augustine won’t go dormant but will grow slower in winter. Yes typically Bermuda will need less water.

      Reply
  7. Hi Alex,
    I just had St Augustine sod laid in So Cal. Our summers get hot and dry and was told that I should overseed the sod with Bermuda before summer, and then overseed with St Augustine again in the winter. Your thoughts?

    Judi F

    Reply
    • I don’t think I would overseed St Augustine with Bermuda. Those are two different looking grasses and you may not like the end result. Plus there are no St. Augustine seeds to overseed with, you would just purchase plugs to fill in bare spots of St. Augustine.

      Reply

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