A Homeowner’s Guide To Caring For St. Augustinegrass

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St. Augustinegrass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is a popular choice for homeowners in warm climates due to its shade tolerance, drought resistance (once established), and beautiful emerald-green color. However, proper care is essential to ensure your St. Augustinegrass thrives and transforms your yard into a verdant oasis. This comprehensive guide equips you with the knowledge required to cultivate a flourishing St. Augustinegrass lawn throughout the year.

Understanding St. Augustinegrass

St. Augustinegrass is a warm-season, perennial grass known for its broad, soft blades and spreading growth habit. It forms a dense, carpet-like turf, creating a lush and inviting space. While shade tolerant compared to other warm-season grasses, it thrives in full sun locations.


St. Augustinegrass boasts several advantages, including:

  • Shade Tolerance: Provides a green haven in areas receiving partial shade.
  • Drought Tolerance: Once established, it can withstand periods of dry weather.
  • Low-Maintenance: Requires less frequent mowing compared to some grass varieties.
  • Traffic Tolerance: Moderately tolerant of foot traffic, making it suitable for families with children or pets.


Consider these potential drawbacks before planting St. Augustinegrass:

  • Establishment: Slower to establish compared to some warm-season grasses.
  • Susceptibility to Disease: More prone to certain diseases like brown patch and chinch bugs compared to some varieties.
  • Thatch Buildup: Can be susceptible to thatch buildup over time, requiring dethatching.

Planting St. Augustinegrass

The ideal time to plant St. Augustinegrass depends on your location:

  • Spring Planting (Southern Regions): In areas with mild winters, plant St. Augustinegrass sod or sprigs in the spring when soil temperatures reach at least 65°F (18°C).
  • Summer Planting (Warmer Regions): In areas with hot summers and long growing seasons, late spring or early summer planting is suitable.

Planting Tips

  • Soil Preparation: Test your soil pH and ensure it falls within the range of 6.0 to 7.0. Amend the soil as needed to achieve the desired pH level. Loosen compacted soil and remove any weeds or debris.
  • Planting Sod: Lay sod pieces tightly together, ensuring good contact with the soil. Water thoroughly to establish root contact.
  • Planting Sprigs: Spread sprigs evenly over the prepared soil surface and lightly rake them in to ensure good soil contact. Keep the planting area consistently moist until the sprigs establish roots.

Seasonal Care For A Thriving St. Augustinegrass Lawn


  • Fertilization: Apply a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer according to soil test results to promote healthy growth.
  • Weed Control: Apply pre-emergent herbicide to prevent weed germination in early spring.
  • Mowing: Begin mowing when the grass reaches 3 inches in height, removing no more than one-third of the blade length at each mowing session.


  • Watering: Water deeply and infrequently, allowing the top inch of soil to dry between waterings. Early morning watering is ideal.
  • Mowing: Maintain a mowing height of 2.5 to 3 inches to shade the soil and retain moisture.
  • Pest Control: Monitor for signs of chinch bugs or other pests and take action if necessary.


  • Fertilization: Apply a light application of a balanced fertilizer in early autumn to promote winter hardiness.
  • Watering: Reduce watering frequency as the weather cools.
  • Leaf Removal: Remove fallen leaves to prevent disease development.

Winter (Warmer Climates)

  • Watering: Water only during extended dry spells to prevent the lawn from going completely dormant.
  • Mowing: Mowing frequency can be reduced significantly during dormancy.

Additional Tips For A Healthy St. Augustinegrass Lawn

  • Aeration: Core aeration every 1-2 years helps alleviate soil compaction and improve drainage.
  • Dethatching: If thatch buildup becomes excessive (exceeding ½ inch), dethatching may be necessary to promote healthy growth.
  • Disease Management: Monitor your lawn for signs of disease and treat promptly with fungicides labeled for St. Augustinegrass.

By understanding the characteristics of St. Augustinegrass and implementing these seasonal care practices, homeowners can cultivate a beautiful, thriving lawn that adds value and enjoyment to their property. Consulting with a local lawn care professional can provide specific recommendations based on your climate, soil conditions, and specific needs of your St. Augustinegrass lawn.