Pensacola and Argentine are varieties of Bahia, formally called Bahiagrass, each with unique characteristics that make them desirable as lawn grasses in the southeastern United States. There are currently four cultivars of Bahiagrass: Common, Argentine, Pensacola and Paraguay.
Bahiagrass was originally used as pasture grass in the southeastern United States after being discovered in Brazil in 1914. Since then, new varieties have been introduced as lawn grass and have become popular as a low-maintenance grass for infertile, sandy soils. Both varieties are still used as pasture grass as well.
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The main way to distinguish Pensacola Bahia from Argentine Bahiagrass is to study the leaf blades of the grass. Pensacola Bahia has longer and narrower leaf blades than Argentine Bahia. Pensacola Bahia is the most widely grown variety of Bahiagrass today.
Pensacola vs. Argentine Bahia
Both types of Bahia have advantages and disadvantages as lawn grasses. Determining which is better is really a matter of understanding their ideal growing climates, because both grasses are exceptional for lawn use in warm climates, and they both are very resistant to diseases and pests.
Pensacola Bahia has an extensive root system which makes it extremely drought resistant. It tolerates hot and cold temperatures well, but performs better than Argentine in colder weather. For this reason, Pensacola grass is grown farther north than Argentine grass because, while frost can damage the top growth of Pensacola Bahia, it recovers well.
Argentine Bahia is dark green in color and forms a denser sod than Pensacola. It tolerates hot and cold temperatures better than other types of lawn grasses, but it thrives best in tropical conditions where it is warm and wet. Both types of Bahia love full sun, but Pensacola will fare better than Argentine in shady conditions. If significant shade is present, Argentine is not the best choice, because it will die quickly in areas shaded by trees.
Care and Maintenance
Pensacola and Argentine Bahiagrasses are equal in terms of pest and disease resistance. The only pest that plagues either type of grass is the mole cricket. Argentine is more difficult to establish than Pensacola, requiring more initial watering, but it also has fewer seedheads, which makes it easier to mow.