Written by 6:06 pm Lawn Tips, Staff's Picks

How to Plant St Augustine Grass Using Plugs

Lush St Augustine Grass
Establishing St Augustine turf can be expensive! Sod, the most expensive option, is best for establishing grass for the first time in a yard. But using St Augustine grass plugs is much cheaper.
Plugs are ideal for small areas or places where the homeowner isn’t in a rush to have a yard full of grass. St. Augustine grass plugs are 2-3” clumps of grass and roots. Once planted, St. Augustine grass plugs will spread. This makes plugs a great choice for thin or bare spots in your lawn.

Where to Get St Augustine Grass Plugs

You can find St. Augustine plugs in your local home and garden store. Stores like Lowes and The Home Depot sell 18 grass plugs to a tray. Depending on the spacing, 18 plugs covers around 32 square feet.

Local gardening shops may also have St Augustine Grass plugs. Local shops usually have much better experts on hand to answer any questions you may have.

Making Your Own Plugs

An alternative to purchasing prepared St. Augustine plugs are to make your own. Creating plugs from pieces of sod will help stretch the coverage area. Make your own plugs by cutting pieces of sod into desired size with a shovel or garden shears.

Plugs can also be made from existing grass in your yard. Harvest grass from an inconspicuous or area where grass is very thick. Using a sod plugger tool, insert it into the ground, twist and lift. You can also use a hoe or shovel by inserting the blade vertically to cut out the desired piece. It is important that you dig 2-4” deep and remove the soil with the grass.

Repairing Lawn After Removing Newly Created Plugs

Transplant these self-created plugs into other areas of your yard. Fill the holes created with soil or sand. DO NOT use potting soil mixes with heavy organic matter content as filler.

To reduce noticeable lawn damage, increase the space between harvested plugs. Spacing multiple feet between holes and in a checkerboard pattern will help your yard heal quicker.

Planting Your Grass Plugs

Planting St Augustine Grass Plugs is simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Choose the best time to plant
  2. Calculate square footage and spacing
  3. Prep the site
  4. Plant the grass plugs
1. Choose the best time to plant

The best time to plant St. Augustine plugs is in the late spring or early summer. By this time in the southeast, temperatures are well above 80℉. Even if you get a late start into the summer, it is likely still safe to plant plugs. Planting in the late summer should be mindful of the estimated first winter frost. St. Augustine plugs needs at least 90 days before the first frost.

2. Calculate square footage and spacing

The first step is to examine and calculate the area of the space needing plugs. The amount of space covered by a tray of St. Augustine plugs can vary by plant spacing.

6" x 6" Spacing24 Square Feet
12" x 12" Spacing32 Square Feet
15" x 15" Spacing40 Square Feet
18" x 18" Spacing56 Square Feet

The larger the spacing, the longer it will take for the plugs to grow together. Now is also a great time to do a soil test. Proper soil pH and nutrients will not only give your new sod the best change to grow. It will also make the plugs grow together faster. Once you get your results, amend the soil as needed.

3. Prepare the Site

preparing soil

Always take time to properly prepare the soil prior to installing your grass plugs. The time taken ensures your grass plugs will not die off. It also allows your grass to spread as quickly as possible. To prepare the soil, do the following:

  1. Use an all-vegetation herbicide to kill all grass and weeds in the area – we recommend Hi-yield Killzall Grass and Weed Killer
  2. Wait two weeks for the herbicide to completely dissipate
  3. Break up the soil – break up compacted soil with a tiller; if soil is loose, use a garden rake
  4. Remove all dead thatch and plant residue from the area

After you have removed the vegetation, plan out the desired planting grid pattern. It is easier to flag where you will place St. Augustine plugs before digging. Space plugs in a diamond pattern to reach the square footage coverage in the table above.

Next, dig the holes for the plugs. Planting will be easier and have better success if the hole is larger than the plug. Use a garden trowell to dig holes. We recommend saving time and your back, by using the Corona LG3720 SodPLUGGER. Plug hole depth will vary based on the amount of root system on the St. Augustine plugs. Typically, holes will be between 2”-4” deep.

After the holes have been dug, thoroughly water the area. Water the soil until it is saturated. Be sure not to water the area to the point where water is standing or pooling in the holes.

Our specialists recommend adding a small amount starter fertilizer to the holes. By doing this you are putting fertilizer in direct contact with the developing roots. Ferti-lome New Lawn Starter Fertilizer will give your plugs a kickstart and make them grow faster!

4. Plant the Grass Plugs

Now you are ready to plant the St. Augustine sod plugs! Place the plugs into the predug holes at ground level. If the holes are too deep, add a small amount of soil to level the plug. Ensure that you cover the roots, but not the crown of the plug.

Planting the plugs too deep could cause the crowns to rot. Planting too deep also encourages diseases or insects. Fill in any space around the plugs with soil to secure.

Lastly, water the plugs again. Be sure to thoroughly wet without causing water to pool. It is important to continue to water the newly planted St. Augustine plugs for the next two weeks. After two weeks, continue watering the area with 1” of water per week.

. . .

Within two weeks, your St. Augustine plugs should be well rooted and on their way to spreading. Once the plugs have begun to spread, the area can be mowed as needed. Be sure not to cut the newly plugged area shorter than 2”.

St. Augustine grass plugs are a great way to fill in bare and dead spots. With a little care and patience, plugs will easily renovate your yard. Not only will it be the envy of the neighbors, you can do it 10x less than using sod.

Article photo courtesy of Sod Solutions.

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