ASK THE HORT AGENT
Question Which type of grass is best for a sunbather to plant?
Answer Obviously, the answer depends on the style of sunbathing. For a beach or pool style of sunbathing, which involves a blanket or chair, the type of grass is irrelevant (see attachment). The college coed or hobo style of sunbathing includes a modest to scantily clad person simply lying on the ground. This style of sunbather can be affected by the type of grass beneath their skin.
In order to compare different types and varieties of grass, they have to be maintained correctly. Incorrect mowing heights lead to weed problems. A dull mower blade will fray grass leaves (also known as blades). Both weeds and frayed leaf margins are elements typically unwanted by sunbathers and lawn managers alike.
Zoysia is similar to a beach since it contains silica in its leaves (sand is made of silica). Its leaves also have a tendency to naturally stand vertical. When properly mowed at ¾ to 1 inch high, this grass can be somewhat prickly to bare skin. This especially applies to the arches of feet and the small of a person’s back.
Fescue is considered a coarse bladed grass which also stands vertical. When properly maintained at a 3 to 3.5 inch height, it tends to swallow up small sunbathers. These leaves may cast shade on a thin person’s side.
Centipede is also considered a coarse bladed grass, but should be mowed at a height of 1 inch. Its leaves grow horizontally, but this grass does not like to be laid on. It prefers to be observed. Moderate to heavy sunbathing may kill areas in the lawn.
Bermuda will tolerate activity. It is often used in heavy traffic areas like athletic fields and amphitheaters. It also casts very little shade at a correct height of ¾ of an inch. It follows the contours of the land closely. While lying on Bermuda, some sunbathers begin to imagine themselves as a giant golf ball.
St. Augustine is a coarse textured grass which lays horizontally at a height of 2.5 inches. The extra thickness provides more cushion for sunbathers (especially good for those preferring low sleep numbers). The largest concentration of sunbathers in the US is in Florida. St. Augustine is the most planted grass in Florida. Are they catering to sunbathers? They do seem to attract the college coed folks during the spring.
For more info about selecting a lawn grass, visit http://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheets/hgic1214.htm If you do not have internet access, then call me at 910-893-7533 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunbathing has not always been so popular. Years ago, when the sun came out, people sat in the shade. Life was simpler, since no grass grows in the shade.
Gary L. Pierce
Horticulture Extension AgentHarnett County