Is bermuda grass sod or zoysia grass sod best choice for community pool with heavy traffic areas?

Asked August 28, 2019, 11:14 AM EDT

Hi, I am a volunteer/member at a local pool in Mt. Rainier, MD, that has a very large and very well used picnic/activity area. We have struggled over the years to keep grass growing throughout the summer season (just open Memorial Day to Labor Day). We have sodded before with fescue but it just can't deal with our foot traffic. I am urging our Board to invest again in sod, with installation sometime in mid-September after we close. I plan to have soil tested and amended as needed, and we do have an automatic sprinkler system in place. From what I have red on your website, best choices for high traffic areas seem to be Bermuda grass (Tahoma 31) or perhaps zoysia. My question: would Bermuda Grass sod be a better choice than Zoysia sod for use in this area (our location is only 10 minutes away from UMD)? I am leaning toward the Tahoma 31 Bermuda grass, but wanted to get your opinion. Winter brownout is not an issue for us. Thank you so much!

Prince George's County Maryland lawns and turf plant selection

1 Response

Hello -- We understand that you talked with Dr. Dave Clement by phone this morning. This is to follow-up with additional information:

We do not recommend bermudagrass (for home lawns) in central MD for two main reasons: First, many of the improved varieties we have will become thatchy and have poor mowing quality if mowed above ~1-1 1/2" or mowed with a regular rotary lawnmower. To mitigate the propensity for thatchiness, one would need to be on a regular verticutting program and/or mow at 1" or lower with a reel mower. In addition, bermudagrass should have monthly fertilization during the growing season. This is more maintenance than most are willing to undertake. Second, even the "cold-tolerant" varieties have a tendency to suffer substantial damage in a difficult winter or a slow spring and are susceptible to spring dead spot which can substantially deter from the quality and green-up in the spring.

For those who would like a warm-season grass in central MD, we highly recommend either 'Zenith' zoysiagrass (available from Central Sod in Annapolis/Centreville) or 'Meyer' zoysiagrass (available as plugs at various locations or via sod from Summit Hall in Poolesville). The zoysias are not as prone to being as invasive as bermudagrass, don't need as much fertilizer, don't need as much water, and usually have greater density than bermuda.