Many who move to the South mistakenly believe that St. Augustine lawns can be installed the same way that their northern bluegrass or fescue lawns were installed. They assume that they should be able to buy St. Augustine grass seed in order to establish a new lawn; this is an understandable mistake by someone who does not understand the difference between warm and cool season grasses. While there are some warm season grasses that can be propagated via seed (all centipedes, some bermuda grasses, and some zoysia grasses), St. Augustine is not one of them. St. Augustine grass can only be installed in a vegetative fashion: either by laying sod or planting grass plugs.
Pictured above: Palmetto® St. Augustine plugs.
There are several advantages and disadvantages to each propagation method (vegetative sod or plugs vs. seed) that this blog post will not address. Instead, this blog will address the fact that there is not a seed option for St. Augustinegrass when establishing a lawn. You can read more about the differences between various methods of installation in the Sod University article on When to Use Sod, Plugs or Seed.
St. Augustine grasses do not produce enough viable seed for commercialization. For this reason, seed is not produced for lawn propagation use and it is therefore not available for sale at your local garden center.
Sod farms propagate St. Augustine grass vegetatively, as they do most warm season grasses. Sod farms cultivate new St. Augustine sod fields by planting small plantlets (plugs/sprigs) of St. Augustine grass, which grow into a full field of sod in 8–12 months depending on the latitude of the sod farm. Take a look at the video below to see the process of how farmers sprig warm season grasses using slabs of sod.
Once the sod is harvested, the sod farmers leave ribbons of grass in the field, which then re-grow into a full field of sod in a little less time than the original field grew in.
If you are interested in plugs as a cheaper alternative to installing sod, learn more about grass plugs in the Sod University article, What are Grass Plugs and When to Use Them.