What Is Bahia Grass? Everything You Need to Know

Allie Ogletree
Written by Allie Ogletree
Updated March 7, 2023
View of a lawn and house exterior
Photo: KCULP / Adobe Stock


  • Bahiagrass is a drought-tolerant, warm-season grass.

  • While not as lush as some grasses, it grows well in sandy soils.

  • The best time to plant Bahia grass is in the spring.

  • If it starts turning yellow, Bahia grass needs iron.

  • Leave it at least 2 inches long when mowing to protect the roots.

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If you live in a hot, humid climate, or your lawn is sandy and acidic, you probably struggle with finding grass that gives you the beautiful, green yard you want. Bahia grass, with its drought-resistant, humidity-loving personality, may be what you’ve been looking for in a warm-season grass. Let’s take a closer look at bahia grass to determine whether it’s right for your yard.

What Is Bahia Grass?

Bahia grass, or Bahia for short, is a warm-season grass that’s drought-tolerant because of its deep root system. Its texture is coarser than some of the other popular grasses. It grows best from late spring through the hot summer months. While Bahia grass grows best in full sun, it can tolerate partial shade better than some of its warm-season grass counterparts, like Bermuda grass

Bahiagrass FactsDescription
Botanical namePaspalum notatum Flueggé
Common namesBahia
Plant typeWarm-season perennial grass
Height12–25 inches
Life cycleGrows in late spring through summer, becomes dormant in the winter
Soil typeAcidic, sandy loam, but can grow in most soil types
Sun exposureFull sun, can tolerate some shade
Water1 inch per week
Hardiness zones7b to 11

What Does Bahia Grass Look Like?

Bahia grass has a unique, light green appearance that stands out compared to other warm-season grasses, which typically have a dark green hue. The grass has a coarse texture, thin, fibrous blades, up to 25 inches tall, and a Y-shaped seed head if left unmowed.

Pros and Cons of Bahia Grass

If you live in a warm-season grass hardiness zone, you may wonder if Bahia grass is right for your lawn. Here are the benefits and disadvantages of Bahia grass.

Pros of Bahia Grass

Bahia grass has many perks that may make it the perfect choice for seeding your yard. This grass species is:

  • Low-cost

  • Heat-tolerant

  • Drought-resistant

  • An aesthetically appealing light green

  • Disease-resistant

  • Pest-resistant

  • Easy to grow

Cons of Bahia Grass

Every rose has its thorns, and Bahia grass is no different. The disadvantages of choosing Bahiagrass include:

  • Nonuniform, patchy appearance

  • Only mildly shade-tolerant

  • Susceptible to foot-traffic damage

  • Slow germination and growth

  • Susceptible to weeds in early stages and during dormancy

Is Bahia Grass Good for Lawns?

Bahia grass is often used as lawn grass in Southern zones. It’s a great choice for warm climates where droughts often occur, and in sandy soils where other grasses don’t grow well. However, Bahia grass doesn’t offer the dense, lush green turf people often expect for a lawn. 

If you live in a hot, dry area and your soil is sandy, Bahia grass may be your best, low-maintenance option for achieving your green-lawn dreams. 

Types of Bahia Grass

Since Bahia grass was brought into the U.S. from South America, several varieties have been introduced or developed over the last near century. Common Bahia grass is the original cultivar that originates from Brazil. However, this cultivar is far less common in lawns today. Other less common types include Sand Mountain Bahia grass and Riata Bahia grass.

If you’re struggling to determine which type of bahia grass is best for your lawn, consider hiring a local lawn care service to evaluate your yard and help you make a decision.

The three most common varieties include:

  1. Pensacola

  2. Argentine 

  3. Tifton-9 

Pensacola Bahiagrass

The most common type of Bahia grass is Pensacola—named after the port where ships once visited Florida from South America. This variant has the longest and narrowest leaves, earliest seed production, and tallest seed stalks. It is also more cold-tolerant than the Argentine variety and may do well in Northern warm-season grass regions. Since this variant has the earliest seed production, it also grows earlier and slows down sooner, with slow growth in the late summer.

Argentine Bahiagrass

Originally from Argentina, Argentine Bahia grass is another variation for lawns. Compared to Pensacola Bahia, you’ll find that Argentina Bahia is a darker shade of green and has wider leaves. This grass grows later in the spring season, meaning you’ll see more growth through early fall compared to Pensacola Bahia. Keep in mind it’s more susceptible to lawn disease and frost.

Tifton-9 Bahiagrass

Tifton-9 Bahiagrass has thin blades and an upright stance. Tifton-9 Bahia is similar to Pensacola Bahia in that it has a later growth season than Argentine Bahia. A newer variant of Tifton-9 is TifQuik Bahia grass, which comes with the same stand formation and high seeding rate but also a higher cold tolerance. Another perk to this upgraded Tifton-9 is its faster germination rate of two to three weeks.

How to Grow Bahia Grass

Bahia grass is relatively easy to grow, but it can still be a learning curve compared to other grasses that germinate faster. With this in mind, consider the following to grow a healthy Bahia grass lawn.


Bahia grass thrives in full sun, but it can tolerate slight shade, so long as it still gets ample sunlight. Avoid planting Bahia in your yard if you have too much shade cover for it to receive hours of full sunlight. If you need a shade-tolerant warm-season grass, you might want to choose St. Augustine grass or Zoysia grass instead. 


Though Bahia grass can tolerate many soil types, it does best in sandy loam with natural acidity levels ranging from 4.5 to 5.5. Soil that is too alkaline will typically have low iron levels, which can turn your Bahia grass yellow.


Bahia grass is ideal for hot and humid climates like the Southeast areas of the U.S.. Though it does well in humidity, this grass also does even better in drought conditions and can go weeks without receiving any rainfall.


Bahia grass seeds need five to 10 minutes of watering or ¼ to ½ inch of water daily for 2 to 4 weeks or until the seeds germinate. Once it germinates, continue to water your new Bahia grass once or twice weekly. When your grass is fully established, water it as needed. 

When to Plant Bahia Grass

You can plant Bahiagrass either by sod or seed. Spring is the best time to plant your Bahiagrass seed. If you live in a hot climate like Southern Florida, you can also plant it in the fall. 

The grass has a long germination time, so you need to be patient and let it grow. 

When to Fertilize Bahia Grass

It’s important to know how to determine if you should fertilize your Bahia grass, and what to use for fertilizer. 

Test Your Soil

Do a soil test before you fertilize your Bahia grass and choose the best fertilizer for it (if you need it) based on those results. Fertilizing without testing your soil first can make your ground less hospitable than simply leaving it alone. 

Bahiagrass May Need Iron

Again, if your Bahia grass starts turning yellow, it needs iron. Purchase a product that contains ferrous sulfate and apply it according to the directions every six weeks from spring to fall. These applications give your Bahia grass the nourishment it needs to stay green and grow thick and healthy. 

If you continue having problems with your Bahia grass turning yellow, call a local lawn repair company to address the issue. 

Common Bahia Grass Problems

Keep an eye on your lawn for these common Bahia grass issues. 

Insect Control

Healthy Bahia grass isn’t normally plagued by insect problems. Nevertheless, the most harmful insect is the mole cricket. These insects burrow into the ground and create tunnels that loosen the root system of your grass, weakening it and potentially causing death in unestablished turfs. 

Common Weeds

Weeds can pop up in any lawn or garden. The most common weeds to grow in Bahia grass are crabgrass, sandbur, dollar weed, and crowfoot grass. Control weeds in your lawn by using pre-emergent herbicides, post-emergent herbicides, and by hand-pulling weeds.


If you use a dull lawn mower blade to cut your Bahia grass, it will result in a cut that leaves your grass susceptible to diseases—and a less attractive appearance. Though Bahia grass is not prone to disease, nematodes and fungal diseases can harm weakened Bahia. Argentine Bahia grass may be more susceptible to diseases than other varieties, so keep this in mind as you inspect and maintain your lawn.

Bahia Grass Yearly Schedule

Bahiagrass is low-maintenance, but it still needs a bit of attention. Caring for your Bahia grass lawn ensures it will enjoy a long life and helps prevent issues with pests, weeds, diseases, and more. 

Late February Through May

Fight off weeds by spraying some weed preventer on your grass. Fertilize your Bahia grass if your soil test determines that your grass needs enhancements. 


Start mowing your Bahia grass when it begins growing. Keep it at least 2 inches long to help it deal with stress and grow deep roots. 

If you’re dealing with thin patches, seed or overseed your yard now. Doing it in early summer gives the grass time to germinate before the temperatures climb too high. 

June Through August

Continue mowing your lawn to a 2 inches or taller height, and water it as needed to keep its color. Add fertilizer if you need it. Use an insecticide to keep pests like mole crickets from wreaking havoc on your Bahia grass. 

Apply a herbicide to keep crabgrass, sand bur, crowfoot grass, and other aggressive weeds from invading your yard—but check the label to ensure the herbicide won’t harm your Bahia grass before you spray. 

September Through November

Since Bahia grass slows its growth during this time, decrease the frequency you mow your lawn in the fall. Treat the weeds again and feed your grass 6 to 8 weeks before your area’s average first frost. 


Bahia grass is only green when it’s growing. It enters a dormant state and turns brown during the colder winter months, but will rebound and green back up in the spring. 

Bahia Grass Tips

While Bahia grass is a low-maintenance grass type, you’ll still want to do your part to keep it healthy and vibrant. Here are some tips on how to maintain Bahia grass.

  • Bahia grass germinates best when the soil temperature is consistently between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Plan your seeding or overseeding during that period for the best results. 

  • Don’t overwater. Too much water weakens the grass. 

  • Be prepared to see stiff seed stalks that grow above the grass blades. Mow more often (while still keeping your Bahia grass length at least 2 inches high) if you don’t like how the seed stalks look. 

  • Keep your mower blades sharp, or you’ll tear and damage your Bahiagrass. 

  • Consider hiring a landscaping company near you to mow for you if you don’t have the time to do it consistently. 

Bahia Grass vs. Other Types of Grass

Bahia grass is a popular warm-season grass due to its low maintenance, drought-resistance, and slight shade-tolerance properties. But it’s not the only grass on the market. Here’s how its compares to similar grass types.

Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass is another common warm-season grass that appears in many lawns.

Compared to Bahia, Bermuda grass has several advantages, including a faster establish time of one year, better salt tolerance, and high resilience. 

On a different note, Bermuda grass needs full sunlight, grows aggressively, and is pickier about its soil, requiring good irrigation.


Though some may consider this grass a weed, carpetgrass is a warm-season turfgrass like Bahia grass. However, unlike Bahia grass carpetgrass has an even higher shade tolerance and keeps weeds out with its carpet-like density. 

At the same time, carpetgrass has a low drought tolerance, a weedy appearance if you don’t mow it every week in peak growing season, and a susceptibility to diseases and pests.

Centipede grass

Centipede grass grows in Southeastern states—from North Carolina, down the coast, and across to Texas coastal regions. As its name suggests, this type of grass resembles a centipede. Fewer grass types require less maintenance than centipede grass. Compared to Bahia grass, centipede grass may be a better choice if you have a low soil pH level, want a uniform turf that doesn’t grow tall, and want to avoid fertilizers.

On the other hand, centipede grass isn’t for everyone. It has a low tolerance for foot traffic, needs at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, and is slow-growing.

St. Augustine grass

Another contender is St. Augustine grass. This grass totes thick, often emerald-green blades and a ground cover that is almost picturesque. If you live in a coastal region in the Southeast, chances are you have St. Augustine grass. Unlike Bahia grass, this grass is salt-resistant, more uniform, and weed-resistant. 

On the downside, St. Augustine grass is more prone to disease, requires more watering and care, takes longer to establish, and is high-maintenance.

Zoysia grass

Zoysia grass is one tough grass, especially compared to Bahia. It can handle heavy foot traffic, grows thick, spreads easily, and offers a stunning, uniform lawn without much maintenance. 

However, Zoysia falls short compared to Bahia grass when it comes to shade tolerance and initial growth. Zoysia grass can take up to 3 years to become fully established.

Susan McCullah contributed to this piece.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, Bahia grass spreads on its own thanks to its short stolon system. However, it might not seem like your Bahia grass spreads well due to its slow growth. Bahia grass takes around 3 to 4 weeks to germinate and an additional two weeks to grow thicker. 

During this time, fast-growing, competitive weeds may pop up, so weed your lawn to give your Bahia grass a chance to grow. This grass can take up to two years to become established. Once established, Bahia grass typically does well in suitable climates.

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