What is Bahia Grass? (with photos)

Bahia grass is often used for lawns.

Named after a state in Brazil, Bahia grass is a type of grass native to South America that is often used for lawns and pastures, particularly in the United States. A relatively low maintenance, drought tolerant grass, this grass grows in infertile, sandy soils. Bahia grass is ideal for arid areas such as South America and the southern states of the United States. There are four main types of Bahian grass: common, Pensacola, Argentinian and Paraguayan.

Bahia grass can be grown in horse pastures.

A hardy, fast-growing grass, Bahia grass doesn’t require much watering or fertilizing. It has an extensive root system, sometimes reaching up to 2.4 m in depth. This grass has tough stems and usually grows in tufts. Bahia grass is also known for its tall seed heads, which appear most of the year if they grow. It can be grown from grass or seeds.

Bahia grass was introduced to the United States in 1914 as a pasture grass for cattle and horses.

Although Bahia grass is quite healthy, it is susceptible to mole crickets and leaf yellowing. Yellowing of leaves is usually caused by an iron deficiency, so iron fertilizers may be needed. In addition, weeds are difficult to eliminate as Bahia grass generally does not tolerate chemical herbicides.

Bahia grass does well in hot, dry areas with lots of sun. It does not grow in shade, on acidic soils or near salt water, nor can it survive in high traffic areas. Over-watering or over-fertilizing are also common reasons this grass will fail when planted.

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Neither common nor Paraguayan varieties are suitable for lawns. Light green common grass is thick with only sparse growth. Also called Texas Bahia grass, the Paraguay variety has short, hard, gray leaves and is one of the most susceptible to disease. Both varieties are cold intolerant.

Both Pensacola and Bahia grasses work well for lawns. Pensacola is very cold and drought tolerant. The excessive number of seed heads it produces, however, makes it inferior to Argentine grass for use in lawns. Also cold tolerant, Argentine grass is dark green and creates dense growth. It is also one of the most disease resistant varieties.

In 1914, Bahia grass was first introduced to the United States from Brazil as a good pasture grass for cattle and horses in the South and Southwest. It has since been adapted for use on lawns and roads in southern states such as Florida. Although Pensacola is the most common variety in Florida, it is most often used for roadside grasses.

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