St Augustine grass is a popular residential lawn in the country, thanks to its high heat and humidity tolerance.
It also has beautiful blue-green blades that establish in no time– so it's no surprise it continues to be a favorite grass type of many. So if you're one of the many homeowners thinking about St Augustine grass seeding or if you're one Google search away from typing "Where to buy St. Augustine grass seed," let's first discuss everything you need to know about its care and maintenance.
What is St. Augustine Grass?
St. Augustine (aka Carpetgrass) is a popular grass variety that thrives well in warm weather. It remains a crowd-favorite choice due to its low maintenance requirements and dense turf growth. So if you're looking to grow a thick, lush lawn minus the hands-on effort– St. Augustine grass is an excellent choice.
Instead of the standard vibrant green color, St. Augustine grass lawns feature a bluish tint. It is also notably salt-tolerant, making it a popular grass choice for homeowners located in coastal regions. St. Augustine grass forms into a smooth, even turf tolerant to extreme temperatures and low moisture.
Planting St. Augustine Grass Using Plugs & Sod
A St. Augustine grass lawn can be achieved in a vegetative fashion: laying sod or planting grass plugs. Generally, St. Augustine grasses cannot produce sufficient seeds like other common lawn grass types. That's why you won't find commercial seeds available in the market.
In some areas, one planting method is more preferred than the other– so it's best to consult a local professional to determine the best method for you. One easy way to start a St. Augustine turf is to plant established grass plugs. These are rooted pieces of sod that eventually fill the spaces in between, giving you a dense, full lawn. Sod is another planting method, but it may be more expensive.
How to Plant St. Augustine Grass: Step by Step Process
Are you ready to start planting your St. Augustine grass? Here's a step-by-step process to guide you with the process.
1. Measure Your Lawn
Start by determining the exact dimensions of the lawn on which you plan to plant St. Augustine grass. This will help you ensure you purchase enough grass plugs or sods. On average, one tray with 18 plugs is enough to cover 32 sq. ft. of your lawn.
2. Area Preparation
To replace an existing lawn, you must first remove the old sod. Then, apply a non-selective herbicide at least two weeks before planting your St. Augustine grass. This will help kill the weeds.
Important Note: Choose a herbicide that doesn't leave behind toxic residuals, as this may deter the growth of the newly planted St. Augustine grass.
Hand-pulling the weeds may also work if only a few are on your lawn. Just ensure to get rid of the entire root system.
3. Water the Ground
Before planting, ensure to water the lawn thoroughly as this will provide immediate moisture to the grass plugs' roots and make the ground malleable. The water must soak into the soil instead of pooling on the surface.
4. Start Digging
Next, dig holes in a diagonal pattern (with each batch of four holes forming a diamond shape). They need to be spaced approximately 12 inches apart, with the holes across the center 15 inches from each other. Ensure to dig each hole a bit larger (but the same depth) as the plug's root ball. To make the task easier, you can opt to purchase or rent a grass plugging tool to ensure perfect plug-sized holes.
5. Place the Plugs
Once you've dug enough holes on your lawn, start placing each plug firmly. Ensure each one is level with the surrounding ground. Suppose the holes you've dug are too deep for your needs; add some nutrient-rich soil to fill the space.
6. Watering as Needed
Don't forget to keep watering your newly planted St Augustine lawn until the plugs are starting to spread densely and develop firm roots. This ranges from 7 to 14 days (1 to 2 weeks). After this period, a weekly watering schedule will suffice.
7. Beware of Pests & Lawn Disease
Unfortunately, newly planted St Augustine grass lawns are prone to pest infestations and lawn diseases. As such, they will need monitoring and protection. It would help to keep a close eye on your lawn for the first few weeks. Once you spot visible brown patches or mildew, contact a local professional to assist you with the proper treatment.
St. Augustine Lawn Care and Upkeep
After planting your new St. Augustine lawn grass, ensure the soil is moist for the first 7 to 10 days. This allows the grass seeds to germinate and grow firm roots. Then, you will need to follow a regular watering schedule suitable to your region's climate. For dry climate regions, water at least once or twice a week. Those in wet climate regions may rely on frequent rain showers to keep the lawn watered.
Monitor your lawn for signs of fungal infections for the first week of growth. This usually breeds in wet or moist soil. You may need to apply fungicide if the disease gets out of hand. Once the St. Augustine seeds are firmly established, apply extra fertilizer and start mowing the lawn regularly. (Related: The Best Fertilizers for a Lush, Green St. Augustine Grass Lawn)
According to experts, it's best to fertilize the St. Augustine grass lawn every two to three months. When mowing, avoid trimming too much– as it may only stress the grass. Ideally, maintain a turfgrass between two to three inches in height. Lastly, if you live in regions with harsh winters, always inspect the lawn for any visible patches after the winter months. This may require you to do reseeding or resodding. Wait to reseed until you are 100% confident that the chance of frost is over and done with.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How many St. Augustine varieties are there?
St. Augustine has over 11 common varieties and some recently released cultivars. Floratine, Seville, and Bitter Blue are among the most popular ones. Each section is usually bred to resist insects and diseases, reduce cold sensitivity, and improve texture and color. Dwarf species like Amerishade and Delmar don't require regular mowing. Classic and Delta Shade are St. Augustine variants developed for shade use. (Related: The Different Types of St. Augustine Grass: A Lawn Care Guide)
When should I plant St. Augustine grass?
The best season to grow St. Augustine grass is during the warmth of summer and spring, when temperatures are usually high, between 80 to 100°F. To give the grass enough time to develop, plant St. Augustine grass plugs or sod in full sun at least 90 days before your region's first expected fall frost.
What is the ideal watering frequency for St. Augustine grass seeding?
St. Augustine needs around 1.5 inches of water weekly during the growing season. Do not water it if you are receiving enough rain. Use the sprinkler two times a week to apply .75 inches of water when it is not raining. Watering must only be done when you don't get rain during the dormant season.
What are some of the most common St. Augustine grass problems?
The most prevalent pests are grubs and sod worms, which can be controlled by applying insecticide twice, early in the spring and then again in the middle of the season. Brown patch and gray leaf spot are two fungal turf diseases that weaken the sod and damage its appearance.
Early-season fungicides can usually detect these diseases before they become serious problems. Weeds are a minor concern in St. Augustine. Pre-emergence herbicides can be applied in places where broadleaf weeds pose a constant threat because a healthy turf crowds out weeds. Reducing stress on the turf and good cultural control are the best solutions to problems you may encounter with St. Augustine grass lawns.