What is Bahia Grass and Why is It Coming to OTOW?

Outdoor water use comprises 70% of the typical water bill for homeowners across the state of Florida. In an effort to minimize outdoor water use and increase sustainability, efficiency and conservation, Bahia grass is a natural alternative.

To understand Bahia grass and its ability to be drought tolerant, you need to understand where it is from and how it handles the dry, infertile soils we see in our sandy climates. Bahia grass originated from Brazil and was introduced in the Southern United States in 1914. It was primarily used as a pasture grass for the sandy soils in our southern states. Bahia does well with limited fertilizer inputs and does not need to be irrigated once established to survive our driest times of the year. Bahia grass also has an extensive, deep rhizomatous root system that stores reserves during periods of drought. This allows the plant to go dormant and turn brown or gray in color. At the first hint of rain, the grass will green up and begin growing again.

There are currently three varieties of Bahia grass – two of which are used as lawns across the southeastern United States. Argentine Bahia grass is probably the more desired Bahia grass to use due to it not having as many “V” shaped seed heads. However, it is not an abundant variety and many farms no longer guarantee the purity of the grass. It has good insect and disease resistance, as well as excellent drought tolerance. Pensacola Bahia grass is the dominant, most widely grown variety across the Southern states. It produces more seed heads then Argentine but is an excellent grass due to its high drought tolerance, little to no need for fertilizer, and insect and disease resistance.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District has mandated that new homes built inside the development of On Top of the World Communities, LLC. meet 150 gallons per person per day. On Top of the World Communities feels that unirrigated Bahia grass back yards are the answer! We intend to implement this level of landscape in our newest communities in Weybourne Landing, Longleaf Ridge and any other developments in the future. Our landscapes and irrigation systems will still meet Florida Water Star Criteria for all homes providing quality landscapes across the community.

Bahia grass is valued for outstanding drought and heat tolerance and an ability to thrive where many other grass types struggle. Bahia grass produces a durable, low-growing, low-maintenance turf. When your lawn goals, location and soil complement Bahia’s natural benefits, this grass is the obvious choice.