Previous research involving turfgrass response to soil moisture used methodology that may compromise root morphology or fail to control outside environmental factors. Water-table depth gradient tanks were employed in the greenhouse to identify habitat specialization of hybrid bermudagrass [
Cynodon dactylon(L.) Pers. × C. transvaalensisBurtt-Davy] and manilagrass [ Zoysia matrella(L.) Merr.] maintained at 2.5 and 5.1 cm. Turfgrass quality (TQ), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), canopy temperature (CT), and root biomass (RB) were used as metrics for plants grown in monoculture in sandy clay loam soil. Mowing height did not affect growth of turfgrass species in response to soil moisture. Turfgrass quality, NDVI, and RB were greatest, whereas CT was lowest at wetter levels [27- to 58-cm depth to the water-table (DWT)] of each tank where plants were growing at or above field capacity. However, bermudagrass RB was greatest at 27-cm DWT, whereas manilagrass RB at 27-cm DWT was lower than RB at 42.5- to 73.5-cm DWT in 2013 and lower than all other levels in 2014. Both species responded similarly to droughty levels (120- to 151-cm DWT) of the tanks. Turfgrass quality, NDVI, and RB were lowest, whereas CT was highest at higher droughty levels. Bermudagrass may be more competitive than manilagrass when soil moisture is high whereas both species are less competitive when soil moisture is low.