St. Augustine Grass grows well in warm, humid regions of the country. Characteristically grown near the coast, this grass has regional names varying from Charleston grass (east coast), buffalo turf (Australia), buffalo grass (South Africa) and carpetgrass (California). Although St Augustine can be found throughout the southern United States, it is native to the Gulf of Mexico area.
Advantages of St. Augustine Grass
- Shade tolerant
- Tolerates wide range of pH levels
- Tolerates moderate foot traffic
- Chokes out weeds
- Quick post-winter green-up
- Stays green during drought
St. Augustine Grass is very shade tolerant and makes a great choice for lawns that do not get ample enough sun for other species. This coarse-textured, wide-flat bladed grass grows best in well drained, fertile soils and has an ability to grow in a wide range of soil pH levels (5.0-8.5). This grass is also tolerant of salt, which make it an ideal choice for areas with occasional saltwater spray.
St. Augustine can handle moderate foot traffic and will recover fairly quickly from injury. This grass forms a dense layer of turf, especially at the soil level, which makes it very effective at choking out weed competition.
Known for its deep, rich green color, St. Augustine will green up quickly coming out of the winter and hold this color well into the Fall after the first frost. If protected by a layer of leaves, St. Augustine has been reported to hold its color further into the winter months. St. Augustine will also hold its color better than other grasses during times of drought.
Disadvantages of St. Augustine Grass
- Sensitive to cold temperatures
- Susceptible to pests & diseases
- Can’t tolerate heavy foot traffic
Establishment & Maintenance
The best method to establish St. Augustine grass is from sod, plugs or stolons. St. Augustine seed is typically very difficult to find due to the grass not being a heavy seeder. For this reason, use sod to establish and plugs to fill in small areas.
Mowing & Irrigation
Mowing height of St. Augustine lawns can vary depending on season and maintenance intensity. In heavy maintained yards, mow grass weekly during the spring and summer at a height of 2”. In this plan, it is important that the grass gets adequate water (1” per week). For less maintenance, as well as fall\winter care, mow the grass between 2-4”. Not following proper maintenance, much like over fertilizing, will cause a detrimental thatch layer to form. Grass clippings do not have to be bagged, or removed, unless they clump together on the surface. In this case, a simple leaf blower can be used to break up the clots.
A fertilizing program is needed to maintain a beautiful yard of lush St. Augustine grass. However, if over fertilized, thatch will accumulate and impede further growth. Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium are the common nutrients in fertilizers, potassium needed to build up winter resiliency and nitrogen being used to control growth and color. The more nitrogen used (up to 1lb per 1000 square feet), will cause the grass to turn darker green, however increase growth and need more frequent mowing.
Similar to mowing and watering, the level of maintenance will determine the fertilizer rate. For best conditions, add nitrogen in summer months (May-August) and add potassium in September (1lb per 1000 sqft). For less maintenance, reduce the applications rates by half.
Fertilizer should be applied onto dry grass and watered in to reduce the chance of burning the blades of grass.
Recommended Fertilizer for St. Augustine: Ferti-lome St. Augustine Weed and Feed 15-0-4