Table of Contents
- 1 Introduction to St. Augustine
- 2 Where to Use St. Augustine Grass Lawn?
- 3 How to Plant St. Augustine Lawn Grass
- 4 How to Care For and Maintain A St. Augustine Grass Lawn
- 5 Other types of grass to consider
- 6 FAQ
- 7 References
Introduction to St. Augustine
If you live in the southern part of the United States and you’re considering putting a lawn down, you have a choice between Bermuda grass, Bahia, Zoysia, and St. Augustine.
You may also opt for a Centipede lawn, but that type has some special maintenance requirements that need to be considered.
St. Augustine lawn is a warm-season favorite for gardeners in the southern states, including the gulf coast, South Carolina, and Florida.
It is primarily where warm temperatures are typical (and increasingly high temperatures).
St. Augustine Characteristics
Below are the essential characteristics of St Augustine lawn:
|sod, sprigs, plugs
|Mowing height (inches)
|2½ to 4
|dark green grass
|fair for repeated foot traffic
Where to Use St. Augustine Grass Lawn?
St. Augustine grass thrives in humid, coastal climates that have mild winters.
It is known to withstand high summer temperatures, and St. Augustine grass can maintain its color at temperatures up to 10 degrees lower than Bermuda grass.
St. Augustine grass lawn tolerates mild shade and, if not better than, other warm-season grasses.
St. Augustine grass, on the other hand, grows thin, spindly turf in intensely shadowed areas, though some variants can manage on 6-hours of sun a day.
St. Augustine will tolerate a range of soil types as long as fertility and drainage are adequate.
St. Augustine grass thrives well in a pH range of 5.0 to 8.5, but in very alkaline soils, it has a chlorotic appearance when the soil is above pH 7.5.
It is not tolerant of compacted or wet soils. St. Augustine grass has a high tolerance for soil salinity.
St. Augustine is popular as a residential lawn. It provides acceptable turf with low upkeep, effectively competes with weeds and other grasses, and has few significant pests.
With occasional mowing, a St. Augustine grass lawn maintains an excellent turf cover in damp, warm regions.
It survives with additional irrigation in areas where the annual rainfall is less than 30-inches.
St. Augustine grass creates a thick, lush, dark green turf that homeowners enjoy at higher upkeep levels.
How to Plant St. Augustine Lawn Grass
Doing a soil test before planting should be standard practice. Online services like Soil Kit simplify the process, and the kit is inexpensive.
The results will include an analysis of your soil type and recommendations of the specific adjustments required.
Take a mix of samples from across your planting area. Remove all weeds, specifically broadleaf weeds, before planting.
For more than 200 years, St. Augustine’s propagation has been by vegetative means – sod, plugs, and stolons from an original plant.
St. Augustine grass is generally propagated from sod as the creeping stolons are fast at covering the bare ground.
You can expect grass planted 1- to 2-foot apart to have covered your plot by the following season. Space your plugs one to two feet apart.
If you irrigate, you can easily establish St. Augustine grass within a growing season.
How to Care For and Maintain A St. Augustine Grass Lawn
Related post: How to Care for Your Lawn in Any Season
Whether you plant grass seed or sod, it is crucial to fertilize your Augustine grass during the first three months while still establishing itself.
Apply a high phosphorus fertilizer or a balanced, complete fertilizer on the planting area at planting time.
Spoon-feeding the grass plugs with a monthly dose of nitrogen at a rate of one pound per thousand square feet will further promote the rapid establishment of your plugs.
You will need to control weeds with a pre-emergent herbicide (2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba).
From late fall to early winter, you only need to mow your St. Augustine grass twice a month.
This is not the case during the growing season when you follow a five to seven-day timetable.
Your mowing plan will be throughout the peak growing season every five to seven days.
Mowing heights should be between 2.5 and 4 inches of the grass blades, as stated in the specs table above.
Your mowing frequency will increase if you choose a lower height. Early spring and late summer necessitate more mowing.
Effective mowing improves the surface area of the leaves. The increased leaf surface will assist the grass in storing energy reserves for the winter.
During the dormant season, the larger leaf area will also help avoid weed invasion.
Nitrogen sprays regularly increase the color and rate of growth of St. Augustine.
St. Augustine grass takes roughly 1-pound of nitrogen per 1,000-square feet each month during the growing season and on sandy soils.
Exceeding this suggestion can increase thatch formation and make your grass more susceptible to diseases and insects.
In Florida, where the insect is active throughout the year, the Southern lawn chinch bug is the most destructive pest.
Along with the brown patch, SAD, and white grub, it is one of the most dangerous pests in other states.
Initial chinch bug injury symptoms resemble drought stress, with stunted, grey leaf patches in full sun locations.
Insecticide applications used at the right time will keep chinch bugs at bay.
On St. Augustine grass lawns, white grub is a significant issue.
The grubs are from May beetles or June bugs larvae that develop just below the soil surface in the summer and fall.
The grubs eat the roots of the St. Augustine grass, causing major turf losses in some years.
The only way to keep white grubs at bay is to use insecticides when they’re needed.
Ground pearls, which are underground scale insects that feed on grassroots, may wreak havoc on St. Augustine grass lawns.
Scale insects attach themselves to the roots of plants and deposit a waxy, pearl-like shell around their bodies.
The pearl develops larger on the immature scale within; the pearl also expands in size.
Ground pearl damage appears as small irregular areas of unthrifty or dead grass in the spring and summer, especially during dry weather.
When the bug is in the crawler stage, apply insecticide treatment in May or early June.
Pythium, Brown patch, gray leaf spot, Helminthosporium, SAD, rust, downy mildew, and other turfgrass diseases affect St. Augustine grass.
Besides SAD, fungi cause all the above diseases and are treatable with proper management and fungicides.
There are no pharmaceutical treatments available for SAD, a viral condition.
Successful management is reliant on using specially bred St. Augustine cultivars.
Floratam, Seville, Raleigh, and several experimental types have demonstrated SAD virus resistance.
The most significant diseases induced by fungi attacking St. Augustine grass are brown patches and gray leaf spots.
A healthy St. Augustine grass lawn effectively smothers most weeds.
However, grassy and broadleaf weeds can infest neglected St. Augustine grass.
In dormant St. Augustine grass, cool-season weeds like henbit, chickweed, and clover can be a major problem.
In the early spring, hormone-type herbicides are effective in controlling these weeds.
Other types of grass to consider
If you are looking for other varieties of grass to grow in your yard, check out our other related posts:
Why is St. Augustine grass bad?
Pests such as grubs and chinch bugs, turf diseases such as brown patches and gray leaf spots, and overuse of fertilizer have all contributed to the decline of St. Augustine grass in recent decades. Despite the fact that St Augustine is an excellent grass for southern areas, it is not very durable. Furthermore, it can only be reproduced by vegetative methods since seeds are not readily accessible at a reasonable cost.
Where does St. Augustine grass grow best?
St. Augustine grows well in warm weather with temperate winters. It grows well in the southern part of the United States and other warm climates internationally, including Australia and South Africa. Tropical conditions are the best for growing it. It may be found in abundance in lagoons and marshes, along shorelines, and everywhere there is a significant quantity of wetness.
How do you take care of St. Augustine grass?
A durable lawn that requires little care, St. Augustine is a good choice. Making certain that it receives enough water and nitrogen (but not too much) helps to strengthen this dark green grass and aids in its resistance to invasion and illness.
- Trenholm, L., Schiavon, M., Unruh, J.B., Shaddox, T. & Kenworthy, K. (2021). St. Augustine Grass for Florida Lawns. University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Gardening Solutions. URL: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/lh010
- Taylor, G. & Gray, J. (1999). Maintaining St. Augustine Grass Lawns. Texas A&M University Agricultural Extension. URL: http://publications.tamu.edu/TURF_LANDSCAPE/PUB_turf_Maintaining%20St.%20Augustine%20Grass%20Lawns.pdf
- Hagan, A. & Higgins, J. (2014). St. Augustinegrass Lawns. ANR-0262, Alabama A&M University and Auburn University Extension. URL: https://ssl.acesag.auburn.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-0262/ANR-0262-archive.pdf
- About/Mentions: St. Augustine Grass, Lawn, Gardening, Sod
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.