With more than two billion sq. ft. sold, Palmetto® St. Augustine is the most sold patented turfgrass in the world. Palmetto can be found from coast to coast across the southern two-thirds of the United States as its versatility allows for it to grow under a number of different conditions and climates. Often selected as a superior turfgrass to other St. Augustine brands, Palmetto is selected for its better color, finer texture, and superior shade, cold, frost, heat and drought tolerance due to the extensive root system it creates underneath the soil surface. Read below to learn more about why this grass is often the top pick for homeowners everywhere.
The History of Palmetto St. Augustine
Palmetto St. Augustine started in Central Florida as a small, niche grass with improved shade tolerance. Today, sales have surpassed two billion sq. ft. worldwide with acreage and demand still increasing. Co-Breeder Elmer Kirkland and Tobey Wagner patented the grass, trademarked the name and licensed just four growers in Florida decades ago. Today, there are over 50 growers of Palmetto worldwide.
At the time of the Palmetto release, Floratam St. Augustine dominated the market. The contrast between Palmetto’s dark green color and finer texture versus Floratam’s coarse texture is striking. Consumers seem to greatly prefer the look of Palmetto. Learn more about their differences in Turf Battles: Palmetto vs. Floratam St. Augustine.
Palmetto St. Augustine was Sod Solutions’ first release in the 1990s. Today, Sod Solutions has proprietary rights for over 15 grasses and works with five land grant universities including the University of Florida, North Carolina State, Mississippi State, and Texas A&M to release improved grasses for homes, commercial, golf and sports venues.
Facts About Palmetto St. Augustine
Palmetto can be found along the eastern coast of the United States from the Carolinas to Florida and towards the west along the Gulf Coast to Texas and in Southern and Central California. Click the infographic below to enlarge.
As a St. Augustine grass, Palmetto produces only stolons—not rhizomes—that are above the ground runners. Learn more about the difference between stolons and rhizomes here.
Palmetto St. Augustine Characteristics and Traits
Compared to other cultivars of St. Augustine, Palmetto is actually a finer-textured, semi-dwarf St. Augustine. In other words, the leaf blades aren’t as thick as other St. Augustines, allowing them to create a very compact canopy of grass. As a semi-dwarf, Palmetto doesn’t grow as high at other St. Augustine cultivars. In turn, this means less mowing is required to keep it at an ideal, manageable height.
All natural, healthy grass is green in color but varies in shades and hues of green. Palmetto has more of an emerald green look while Floratam St. Augustine is lighter green and CitraBlue is blue-green. Take a look at the images below to get a better idea of their color differences.
Palmetto also demonstrates superior cold, frost, heat and drought tolerance compared to other St. Augustines.
Palmetto St. Augustine Establishment
Palmetto can be installed and established with the use of sod, plugs, sod pods or stolons, however, there is no such thing as St. Augustine seed. Palmetto St. Augustine sod is the most ideal option for sod installation in your yard. Palmetto grass plugs or sod pods are also other good options when a full sod installation project is not practical.
We recommend checking out the Lawnifi® New Lawn Starter Box if you are currently installing Palmetto St. Augustine as it provides your Palmetto with the nutrients it needs during establishment. For a full list of installation instructions, visit our How to Properly Install Sod page.
Palmetto maintenance differs by each season of the year, however, it should generally be mowed between 2–2.5 inches in height. You will mow less in the fall and winter months, so leave your Palmetto lawn slightly higher than normal at this time. It will encourage deeper root growth for winter. Do this by adjusting the mower height settings up one notch.
Your Palmetto will also need about one inch of water per week including rainfall. Because this grass performs so well in the shade, be careful not to overwater it. Shade and oversaturated soil creates ideal environments for disease outbreaks. Read our blog on how to conduct an irrigation audit to keep this from happening.
Palmetto St. Augustine Fertilization
Fertilizing your established Palmetto St. Augustine lawn is important because it ensure your lawn gets the nutrients it needs. Sod University recommendsLawnifi’s Fertilizer Program with seasonal boxes for spring, summer and fall. Lawnifi also offers a granular formulation, Lawnifi Foundation, for those who prefer traditional fertilizers. You can learn more about Lawnifi in our Why Use Lawnifi Fertilizer? article.
St. Augustine in general is vulnerable to chinch bugs, so be sure to apply a broad-spectrum insecticide like Bifen L/P if you notice insect damage. Keep an eye out for white grub worms as well. If you have had a fungus or diseases in your Palmetto in the past, be prepared to treat your lawn with a systemic fungicide to prevent future outbreaks—especially in the spring and fall as soil temperatures start to adjust. Palmetto tolerates shade a little more than most warm season turfgrasses. Since it does well in shade, it becomes more prone to disease with less exposure to sunlight. For this reason, it is recommended you apply a fungicide at a preventive rate to keep disease from occurring such as Heritage G Granular Fungicide. Read product labels before application.
As with most turfgrasses, it is smart to apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring and fall to help suppress weeds. Suggested pre-emergents include Prodiamine, and Dimension 2EW. St. Augustine varieties can be sensitive to 2,4–D, an active ingredient commonly found in post-emergent herbicides.