The St. Augustine grass is one of the many popular kinds of grass commonly found in homes and many gardens, and they are specially planted to beautify the lawn or the garden. They are a very popular type of grass species that is found along with the gulf coast states.
It can be found in Mexico, South America, Africa, the Caribbean, and warm climates.
However, The problem with this type of grass specie is that they can start having wilted patches and other problems when they are not properly maintained. That is why it is necessary to constantly maintain and care for the lawn to ensure a greener lawn on your side of the fence.
Sodding should be the preferred lawn method for homeowners that want to experience good rapid growth and even spreading else you may wait a long time to have your lawn filled up to become a usable lawn.
However, if you don’t want to wait that long to have an even spread of your lawn, some tips can make your st. Augustine grass spread quicker and grow thicker.
Here are the tips for sustaining your st. Augustine lawn grows and spreads quickly to make your lawn look beautiful.
1. The right type of soil
There are different types of soil, and the one you use to grow your lawn will impact the overall result of your lawn.
To get started with getting st. Augustine grass to grow, you need to choose the best soil type that will greatly positively affect the growth and spread of this type of grass.
If you use some other soil type like the waterlogged soil, these types tend to disrupt St. Augustine’s growth, with its underground oxygen supply depletion. And if you noticed any bare spots on your lawn, you may need to save the spot by adding some topsoil to help reduce pooling.
Well-drained soil is one that is considered the best to grow the st. Augustine grass, much like sandy soil with its pH ranging from 5 to 8.5, and if the soil comes a bit acidic, this should also help in quicker growth and spreading.
For top dressing of a St. Augustine lawn, the sandy loam soil or clean, free-flowing sand is preferable. A very little or no organic material can also be applied if the need arises.
At times waterlogging could cause the lawn to grow slowly and remain sparse thin. This is why it is not recommended to grow this grass in compacted clay soil as it does not help it grow and spread fast enough.
To ascertain if your soil is the right type to grow the St. Augustine lawn grass, it is essential to go to where you test out this soil materials – so you can have a piece of first-hand information on the state of health quality of your soil. Or if you don’t have a soil test lab, you can pick up a DIY test kit so you can by yourself find out what you need to do to get the best out of your soil to grow your st. Augustine grass.
2. Choose the right grass
If your preferred choice of grass to design your lawn is St. Augustine, be sure that you opt for the right grass variety. There are different varieties associated with this particular specie of grass, and we have bright green, dark green, and even blue.
There are also some with more attractive colors like the Lighter shades called “DeltaShade” or “Palmetto” these provide attractive colors. At the same time, the shorter varieties like the ‘Seville’ are the ones that have more resistance to diseases and cold.
3. Schedule Regular maintenance
The ideal way to follow up with your lawn maintenance is to schedule and follow a regular lawn maintenance post establishment. You can make a bi-weekly or once week maintenance and this maintenance should include fertilization, watering, and mowing.
This maintenance will speed up the growth and spread of this grass quickly. Also, the right mowing height of St. Augustine grass should be within the 3.5 – 4 inches, and a high-quality slow-release fertilizer that will help speed up the grass growth must also be used.
During the first few months of post establishment of your lawn, Phosphorus filled fertilizers are a great way to stimulate your grass spread. And after this, you can replace the fertilizer with another nitrogen laden type.
The right amount to apply on your lawn should be about 0.7lbs of nitrogen per 1,000 sq ft. So it is important first to make sure you read the bag information to know the right rate to apply.
The more nutrient supplied to the grass, the more it grows greener; however, you don’t need to run to the store to purchase an expensive fertilizer all in the name of caring and maintaining your St. Augustine grass.
If you are on a low budget and you need to apply effective fertilizer, you can easily crush chicken or other animal bones meal and have them sprinkled in the garden; this is a natural fertilizer process that comes handy in times like this.
Proper watering and irrigation is also a vital feature to maintain. This entails making sure that you water the lawn daily during the first few weeks of post establishment, and during the second week, make sure the grass sods/plus is irrigated to at least half an inch of water.
And by the sixth week, you should have reduced the level or frequency of irrigation to a point where you only need to water the lawn alone when necessary.
It is best to water the lawn very early in the mornings or at sunsets so it can help to maximize the level of water that goes to the roots to prevent evaporation. If not, low-water grass can lose its greenish color very quickly.
4. Planting the st. Augustine grass during summer
This turfgrass strives pretty well during the warm season, and so it grows very well during the summertime, therefore it is appropriate to establish your lawn during the mid summertime when the weather condition is ideal for the growth and spread of this grass species.
During the fall or the cold season, St. Augustine grass is always very dormant, and therefore it is not recommended to grow this type of grass during this period to avoid patchy lawn and withered blades.
5. Weed Control
Weeds are some of the unwanted grass that competes with your St. Augustine grass for its important nutrients, and this invasion can cause so much havoc and really hinder the growth and spread of this grass species.
This is why it is vital to make sure that weeds are not allowed a chance to grow in the lawn, so you need to look out for common grass weeds that can slow down the growth and spread of st. Augustine – weeds like dallisgrass, broadleaf weeds, and also the crabgrass
Keeping this type of grass healthy and looking green will require that you do away with anything that will invite predatory plants like crabs and other weeds.
So make sure the St. Augustine grass gets all the nutrients your lawn can offer by sprinkling baking soda with crabgrass and weeds, so they don’t invade your garden. This effect is also the same when you use salt to draw moisture out of the weed, which is not a harmful process to practice.
6. Grass clippings
Grass clipping is another available source of nitrogen necessary for the St. Augustine lawn’s growth and spread. When th clips are left on the ground to decompose, it will nourish the soil with Nitrogen
Raking frequently and aerating the soil where the grass grows and also inviting burrowed animals like earthworms are an ideal way to aerate the soil and its also a good option for the soil as a means of nitrogen when they excrete or die
8. Don’t Allow Pets
If you allow dogs to use the lawn as where they need to defecate, you might be inviting more trouble for your lawn. A large number of feces can burn or wilt patch a grass. So do not allow your dogs in your garden. However, a small number of feces or urine can be useful sometimes as they act as fertilizers.
The St. Augustine grass is one of the few kinds of grass that has the stamina to withstand a high level of alkaline and acid, so you need to be very watchful every time you allow your pets in your garden as too much of their feces can cause damage to the spread and growth of this grass.
9. Best conditions
This grass is suited to grow very well in slightly warmer conditions, and it is also known to withstand the highly dangerous oceanic saltwater. The grass specie can also survive in areas with lots of hot suns and excessive shade, making it one of the most durable and sought after grass.
However, it is quite sensitive to areas associated with excessive cold.
Advantages & Disadvantages of St. Augustine Grass
There is no ideal grass for all situations and circumstances and so also is the St. Augustine. As it is, this turfgrass works pretty well to create a dense carpet of the coarse texture of grass blades for your pastures and lawns.
And also, like every other turfgrass, the St. Augustine has its drawbacks, so before you decide to have this turfgrass as your first choice among the types of grass specie for your lawn, here are some drawbacks that you need to know about this grass.
Advantages of St. Augustine Grass
If you’re planning on turning a patched area of your yard into a beautiful looking lawn, then having the st. Augustine grass to grow on the lawn will be a fantastic choice to make because these types of grass specie will do very well in moderate shade compared to other grasses that also grows well in such seasons.
The grass specie can accommodate the beating of saltwater and is the reason it is commonly grown in such regions.
When properly planted and maintained, this grass turf forms a dense turf to beautify a garden. Its growth is tight enough to allow a significant amount of foot traffic and withstand grass destroying weeds.
Disadvantages of St. Augustine Grass
St. Augustine grass can withstand normal lawn traffic; however, it tends to have a relatively poor wear tolerance when it encounters repeated foot traffic and will start showing signs of abuse quickly.
This grass species can allow for some shade, but it won’t grow thick and beautiful when grown under deep shade. Instead, it will come out thin. So, on average, the St. Augustine grass will require about four hours of sun to do well (daily).
If planted in areas with extreme cold or waterlogged, it won’t thrive very well as its nicely looking blue-green hue turns brown and stay like that until probably spring rolls in.
The St. Augustine grass comes with high maintenance, which requires fertilizer when growing them on sandy soil. So if your soil has a high pH, additional iron application and micronutrient supplements may also need to be applied.
And its also important that you maintain the cutting height od 3 to 4 inches because when you cut it below the required inches, you will cause it to thin, and cutting off too little will results in the grass turning thatched.
One of the worst challenges faced by bt St. Augustine grass is its vulnerability to diseases and pests. A bug called The southern chinch bug is one bug that homeowners should beware of as it’s known to attack the St. Augustine grass and decimate the grass quicker than you can imagine.
And its a bit difficult bug to get rid of, except its immediately treated.
Although there are still other insects that are very dangerous to the St. Augustine grass growth and spread, when treated at an early stage, you can eliminate them all and have your St. Augustine grass coming out thicker and spreading evenly on your lawn.
St. Augustine Plug Spread – How Long Does It Take?
On a typical lawn, it will take about one to two weeks for newly planted St. Augustine plugs to start spreading after it has gotten firm root inside the soil.
Once it starts growing, the time it will take to cover your bare spot completely will vary from one individual to another, depending on the type of plug spacing you employed.
Below is some plug planting spacing method that will tell how quickly you’re st. Augustine grass will spread.
High-Density Plug Planting
To make this method a success, there should be a spacing of 6-11 inches between the sprigs so that there will be plenty of room for healthy root development.
Only when the roots are properly nourished can they adequately tap nutrients from other soil even with their close spacing. This way, you tend to have quicker growth and a fast spread.
So, in a perfect condition, you should have a lawn filled with thick, lush green grass in just twelve months.
Typical Density Plug Planting
This requires a density choice spacing of 12-18 inches from each other. In this type of spacing, the St. Augustine grass plugs will spread a bit slower, and also the bare patchy spot will take some time to get filled up. This means you will have to be a bit patient until the grass is fully spread.
However, the good side to it is that it is cost-effective when you compare with the high-density plug planting, as it saves you some money to buy more sprigs for your entire lawn.
Low-Density Plug Planting
If your lawn receives very low foot traffic, you can use the 13-24 inch spacing option since this option takes a bit longer for the plugs to take over the whole lawn fully. Typically, this will take over a year to have St. Augustine fully grown and fully spread on a regular-sized backyard lawn.
So the rate at which this type of grass species spread depends on the soil type, how well you were able to maintain, and when it was planted.
St. Augustine Seed
This grass species comes with a prostrate stem from about 5 to 30cm with smooth narrow leaves, giving it a 4 to 15 cm long spike making it one of the few shade-tolerant plants, including tolerating the full sun.
Here are some characteristics of the St. Augustine grass
- Its a type of deep root plant including a powerful stolons and rhizomes
- The plants are very sensitive to cold – which is why it thrives well in warm and coastal regions.
- If the area’s temperature is below 10oC, the grass will stop growing and turns brown. The best temperature for this type of grass species ranges between 20 to 30oC.
- Can grow on any soil – either clay or sandy
- Its vegetative reproduction is specially done through cutting
- Its dense grass comes in low ornamental quality
How to sow the St. Augustine Seed
All seeds are sown the same way, including the St. Augustine seeds. Here are some ways you can easily sow the St. Augustine seed in your lawn to make it grow quicker and spread faster.
- The garden lawn that is meant for sowing the seed needs to be cleared of weeds at least a week before planting the seeds.
- Make sure that you water the garden several times so that the weeds can quickly grow out, and when they do, you apply some insecticide to kill them. And one way to achieve this is to install underground irrigation to achieve an equal watering level in all areas of the garden.
- Rake the soil and remove the earth to about 20 to 30cm from the surface, which allows for air and humidity
- There should be good drainage to facilitate successful sowing. This way, you won’t have to worry about flooding.
- Spread the seed throughout the land to ensure that birds and ants do not eat the seeds. Make sure the earth is raked so the seed and mix well with the soil, and the best way to achieve this is by using a roller to pass over the soil to make the mix compact.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Can You Buy The Grass Seeds?
There is no place at the moment that sells the St. Augustine seeds. In fact, you don’t need to seed a yard with this grass species as it comes in plugs or uts of squares, which is what is needed to plant in the soil.
Again, using the plugs is quite cheaper, but you will have to exercise some patients to get it to fill in the yard.
Does St. Augustine Grass Spread?
Yes, St. Augustine grass spread faster than other grass species that grow in warm climates. St. Augustine has a dense growth pattern, and its spread is relatively easy if it is well maintained. The fast spread is made possible by the above-ground shoots called the stolons.
Also, because this grass species can tolerate good foot traffic, homeowners looking for turfgrass that can withstand every climate condition, including traffic from humans and animals, make it a likable plant. and besides, the growth is not hampered even when it still has not been filled in
In summary, the St. Augustine grass, also referred to as Stenotaphrum secundatum, is a very popular grass species that is very common in most warm climate homes in the US and some other parts of the world. The grass can be grown in any soil, including saline up to 15ds/cm, and for good growth and quickly spread, it needs to be watered daily or every other day during summertime.
So if you want to see your grass come out looking lush green make sure the temperature is in its favor i.e. 10 to 35oC, although it can resist up to -2oC so long it’s for a short period.