Types of Sod, Kinds of Sod
The sod types that are available in our region are Bermuda, Centipede, Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Fescue. The 2 most commonly used Sod types are Bermuda and Zoysia. Emerald Zoysia & Myers Zoysia are considered by most to be the best sod for our region. There are several name brand “hybrid sod” grasses available within each of these types of sod. Do not be fooled by hype! Yes there are subtle differences between the hybrids or name brands in a particular category but there is no “perfect” grass. Your results will depend much more on how a lawn is prepared and maintained than on which name brand you purchase. For more info on preparation, click here to visit our “preparing a yard for sod or seed” page. For information on maintenance, click here to visit our “maintenance of sod” page.
Zoysia is native to regions of China and Korea. Zoysia sod will thrive in the widest variety of sun/shade conditions and its thickness resists weeds better than other grasses. The difference between Emerald & Myers Zoysia is the visual texture and the blade size. Emerald has a very small blade and is the thicker of the two. Emerald Zoysia grass is a hybrid between Zoysia japonica and Zoysia tenuifolia. It combines the cold tolerance, color, and growth rate of one parent with the fine texture and density of the other parent. Emerald Zoysia more closely resembles Bermuda from a distance though its density quickly sets it apart up close. Emerald Zoysia can grow so thick that reel mowing becomes necessary. Myers (my personal favorite) has a wider blade, slightly darker green color, and is slightly less dense. Meyer Zoysia is an improved selection of Zoysia Japonica and was released in 1951. It has a dark green color, medium leaf texture, and is the most cold tolerant of the zoysia grasses. Myer Zoysia closely resembles a “just right” fescue lawn but is easier to cut, more disease resistant and repairs itself after mechanical damage. Emerald Zoysia can grow so thick that reel mowing becomes necessary.
There have been numerous newer varieties of Zoysia introduced since these originals. If you “must have” the best grass around, you have a lot of home work. Super Sod and NGTurf or North Georgia Turf are easy to find on the internet. Be prepared to pay premium prices for copyrighted varieties. It is difficult to tell the difference in many of these from their original strains. A standard Emerald of Myers Zoysia is tough to beat.
Most of the Myer Zoysia hybrid blends like Palisades, Jammer or Empire Zoysia were engineered to grow faster. Some claim they have a slightly more desirable color, varied blade size & are more disease resistant. Emerald hybrids like Zeon sod promise more drought tolerance and disease resistance. ALL Zoysia grasses offer superior shade, drought and disease resistance if they are otherwise healthy. They grow more slowly than the other sod types and keep their thicker quality longer in high shade. Even Zoysia needs some sun light. Your lawn needs 3-4 hours of direct sun or 6-8 of filtered light to grow Zoysia. Mowing weekly in full sun installations should be expected. In partial sun areas, the maintenance it receives will determine mowing frequency. Zoysia is more expensive than Bermuda or Centipede but will pay back your investment in lower maintenance and complements.
Bermuda grass was brought to America in the 1500’s from Africa by the Spaniards. Since that time, several varieties have been developed. Tifway 419 Bermuda is a very dense and fine textured hybrid bermuda grass. It is low growing and spreads rapidly. Its density, fine texture and soft blades provide a soft cushion in which to walk and play. Hybrid t-419 Bermuda grass is the most common sod in our area and therefore the least expensive sod to use. Bermuda sod requires 6hrs minimum of direct sun light to thrive. Bermuda has become a popular grass due to its affordability. It responds well to fertilization and regular watering so it reflects its level of maintenance. Stick with The hybrid Tifway 419 for residential applications. Other hybrids were engineered as sports turf, golf turf or are just too new to the market. Weekly mowing during the growing season will help keep a high density & green color.
Centipede & St. Augustine
Centipede Grass is a fine to medium textured grass with varying root depths and a yellowish-green color. In general, centipede grass is a low-maintenance grass that tends to grow best in acidic soils. It is a favorite of busy lawn growers with a much longer mowing cycle (10-14 days). One annual fertilizing is all it usually requires. These attributes helped earn its nick name, “the lazy mans grass”. Centipede sod is the second cheapest sod on the scale. St. Augustine sod is an option in our region and there are circumstances where it is a good choice. St. Augustine is often chosen for a combination of its shade tolerance and course texture. It grows well in full sun with well drained soils but can also be a good choice in shady environments where its vine like qualities will help it survive. Mowing frequency will vary with the level of maintenance it receives. St.Augustine is usually the most expensive sod in our region.
Fescue sod is usually chosen because it stays green year round. Fescue is much more sensitive to environmental challenges like soil conditions and particularly heat and drought. Fescue sod will suffer from fungus when site conditions become too wet. Annual or bi-annual re-seeding is required in our region to keep a healthy Fescue lawn. Lastly, weed control is more challenging in fescue than the other sod choices we have. Fescue sod is one of the most expensive sod choices due to harvesting challenges and its seasonal requirements.
In summary, there are numerous strains of each of these types of sod grasses. They are often copywrited versions of the original grass with claims of better attributes in various areas. Experience has proven that the environment a grass is living in and how well it is maintained has a far greater impact on how it will perform than any other factors. If you buy the most expensive hybrid but neglect and ignore it, your yard will suffer greatly. If you buy a common variety of sod and provide it with everything it needs to thrive you will have the best lawn around. Proper preparation of the soil, an appropriate sod type for the shade/sun conditions, good maintenance, and good feeding habits with correct watering and fertilizers is all a nice looking lawn requires. If you choose a special hybrid, you still need to follow these steps to success but you will probably be mowing more often.