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All About St. Augustine Sod

St Augustine Sod Close Up Grass Blades

There are many varieties of grasses you can choose from when installing a new lawn at your home. There’s a big difference between warm season and cool season turfgrass varieties, and the choice between the two depends on the area and climate you live in. For this reason, it is important to know how to choose the right type of sod. This week, Sod U takes a deeper dive into the history and characteristics of St. Augustine grass.

The History of St. Augustine Grass
Facts About St. Augustine Grass
St. Augustine Characteristics & Traits
Advantages and Disadvantages of a St. Augustine Lawn
St. Augustine Establishment
General Maintenance for St. Augustine
Sod Solutions St. Augustine Varieties

The History of St. Augustine Grass

Although St. Augustine can be found throughout southern and coastal regions of the United States, it is native to the Gulf of Mexico area, the West Indies and Western Africa. Before the year of 1800, St. Augustine grass was documented in the West Indies, Brazil, Bermuda, Uruguay, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and South Carolina. It has been planted for lawns in the state of Florida since the 1890’s. Some of the most common cultivars of St. Augustine grass include: Palmetto®, CitraBlue™, Floratam, Seville, Raleigh and Sapphire.

Pictured above from left to right: PalmettoCitraBlue and Floratam.

Pictured above from left to right: Seville, Raleigh and Sapphire. 

St. Augustine grass has been vegetatively propagated for 200 years, meaning it is produced via stolons, plugs,  sod pods or sod. Although there are few dwarf and variegated types of St. Augustine grass seed, these strains are more for ornamental and novelty use instead of turfgrass used for lawns—there is no such thing as St. Augustine seed for lawns. 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.

Facts About St. Augustine Grass

St. Augustine grass 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.

Palmetto St Augustine Map

This perennial turfgrass produces only stolons—not rhizomes—that are above the ground. It is sometimes referred to as “Carpet Grass” in California and other southeastern regions of the United States. Learn more about the difference between stolons and rhizomes here.

St. Augustine Characteristics and Traits

St. Augustine grass is coarse-textured with a very thick grass blade that rounds at the top and becomes more compacted towards the soil. It has a dark green color with broad, flat blades that can form a dense layer of grass. Unlike bermuda grass, its rival in the warmer climates and tropics of the United States, it does not have rhizomes. St. Augustine is a stoloniferous species that roots at the nodes.

Photo credit: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu

It is tolerant of high summer temperatures and keeps its color at temperatures as much as 10 degrees lower than bermuda grass. St. Augustine is one of the most shade tolerant grasses of its warm season family, and it thrives in irrigated areas with good drainage. St. Augustine is also highly tolerant of soil salinity—salty soils—in comparison to zoysia or bermuda grass. It can grow in a wide range of soil types with pH rates between 5.0–8.5.

St Augustine Grass Lawn
Advantages & Disadvantages of a St. Augustine Lawn

Advantages

  • Performs better in shade than other warm season turfgrasses.
  • Tolerates coastal, saline soil,
  • Compared to other warm season grasses, it holds its color well in drought conditions.
  • Possesses a dense growth that outcompetes weeds,
  • Tolerates moderate foot traffic and has a very good injury recovery.
  • Possesses a very good spring green up when coming out of dormancy.
  • Performs well in hot, tropical climates.

Disadvantages

  • Does not perform well in colder weather,
  • Less likely to survive prolonged drought,
  • Does not handle high traffic as well as other warm season grasses.
  • Vulnerable to pests and diseases,
  • Creates thatch due to over-fertilization.
St. Augustine Establishment

Like other warm season turfgrass varieties, St. Augustine is established with the use of sod, plugs, sod pods or stolons. As previously mentioned, St. Augustine seed is not a practical option for lawns. 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. St. Augustine sod is the most ideal option for sod installation in your yard. St. Augustine grass plugs or sod pods are also other good options when a full sod installation project is not practical. Be sure to check out the Lawnifi® New Lawn Starter Box if you are currently installing St. Augustine. This fertilizer will give your St. Augustine lawn the nutrients it needs during establishment. For a full list of installation instructions, visit our How to Properly Install Sod page.

General Maintenance for St. Augustine
St. Augustine Mowing and Watering

St. Augustine grass maintenance differs by each season of the year, however, it should generally be mowed between two to four inches in height. You will mow less in the fall and winter months, so leave your St. Augustine 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 St. Augustine will also need about one inch of water per week including rainfall.

St. Augustine Fertilization

Fertilizing your established St. Augustine lawn is important so that your lawns gets the nutrients it needs. If your soil is slightly acidic, be sure to apply a fertilizer with iron and other micronutrients. Sod Solutions recommends Lawnifi’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 Insect and Disease Control

St. Augustine 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 St. Augustine 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. St. Augustine grass is a grass that tends to tolerate 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 FungicideRead product labels before application.

St. Augustine Weed Control

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. If you are noticing weeds in your St. Augustine lawn, apply a post-emergent that contains the active ingredient atrazine like Spectracide Weed Stop For Lawns For St. Augustine and Centipede instead. Read product labels before application. Check out our Identifying Common Lawn Weeds article for more information on the difference between broadleaf and grassy weeds.

For more information on maintenance guidelines or to read more about seasonal maintenance tips for spring, summer or fall, take a look at our St. Augustine Homeowner Maintenance Guide. Sod Solutions also has specific Homeowner Maintenance Guides for CitraBlue St. Augustine and Palmetto St. Augustine.

Sod Solutions St. Augustine Varieties

There are several high-quality St. Augustine turfgrass varieties that Sod Solutions offers. Some of the best include Palmetto® St. Augustine and CitraBlueTM St. Augustine—both of which are available as sod or grass plugs. Palmetto is also available as sod pods, which are slightly larger than plugs. Palmetto is the most sold patented turfgrass in the world with more than 1.5 billion square feet sold. Selected for better color and finer texture, Palmetto St. Augustine sod demonstrates superior shade, cold, frost, heat and drought tolerance than virtually all its competitors. This versatile and affordable turfgrass is often the grass of choice across the southern United States from the Carolinas to California. Its viability under a wide range of climate and soil conditions best explains its popularity in residential, recreational and commercial applications. CitraBlue is a newer St. Augustine grass variety developed by the University of Florida’s turfgrass breeding program. It’s dark blue-green color makes for a stunning appearance in residential lawns. Read more about the development of this new turfgrass variety here.

Sod Solutions also offers Floratam St. Augustine sod and sod pods as well as Raleigh St. Augustine sod. Each variety offers different characteristics. Be sure to check out their individual pages to get a better idea on which variety is best for you and your environment. Shop our St. Augustine sod varieties here and our St. Augustine plug varieties here.

It is nothing but beneficial to be knowledgeable about the different types of turfgrasses so that you can make the best decision on your new lawn based on the amount of time and effort you will spend on it. It will also help you select the best type of grass that will fit the environment you live in. If you really like the look of a St. Augustine lawn, be sure to take a look at our Sod University article on Popular St. Augustine Grass Varieties. Learn more about different types of common turfgrasses in our How to Choose the Right Type of Sod article. Sod University has also published individual articles on different grass varieties such as zoysiabermuda grass and centipede.

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