St. Augustine grass is a warm-season turfgrass that spreads aggressively, allowing it to quickly fill an area. However, establishing a lush and healthy St. Augustine lawn requires careful planning and proper care. Continue below for everything you need to know about successfully growing and maintaining St. Augustine grass on your property.

When to Plant St. Augustine Grass

The best time to plant St. Augustine grass is when the weather is warm. This warm-season grass goes dormant and turns brown in cold weather. Wait until the chance of frost has passed, and daytime temperatures remain above 70° F before planting plugs, sprigs, or sod. Planting in late spring is ideal because early summer temperatures encourage rapid growth.

Preparing the Planting Area

Proper soil preparation helps St. Augustine grass establish a healthy root system. Adequate moisture is critical, requiring daily watering for the first few weeks after planting. To prepare the planting area:

  • For sprigs, plugs, or sod, till the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches. Add compost or other organic matter if necessary to provide more nutrients. Rake smooth to create an even surface.
  • Level any low spots or high areas, as St. Augustine thrives best on flat ground. Fill in dips in the terrain and break up any mounds.
  • Test the soil pH, which should be between 5.0 and 8.5 for St. Augustine grass. Add lime if the soil is too low (acidic) or sulfur if it’s too high (alkaline).
  • Apply starter fertilizer specifically formulated for St. Augustine grass at the time of planting.

Planting Methods for St. Augustine Grass

There are several options for establishing St. Augustine grass in a new lawn or expanding coverage in an existing one.

Plugs are small 3–4 inch squares of grass with roots and a small amount of soil. Dig holes and place the plugs about 12 inches apart. Gently firm the soil around each plug and cover with straw to retain moisture.

Sprigs are 3–4 inch pieces of stem that contain nodes where roots will form. Use a shovel or spade to create trenches about 4 inches deep and 12 inches apart. Cover with 1–2 inches of soil and water thoroughly.

Sodding offers full, instant coverage with the proper preparation. Place sod pieces tightly together so gaps don’t form as they grow. Roll sod after planting for best results.

Seeding is rarely necessary, as St. Augustine seeds can be hard to find and have a low germination rate. If necessary, however, spread seeds just before the rainy season for best results. Cover lightly with soil and keep moist. Germination takes 14–30 days.

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Regardless of the planting method, proper watering is key. Water daily until the grass takes root and becomes established, which typically takes 4–6 weeks. After that, water 2–3 times a week.

Fertilizing Newly Planted St. Augustine Grass

Fertilizer provides the nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients St. Augustine grass needs to spread and thrive. Apply starter fertilizer when planting sod, sprigs, or plugs. Options include:

Granular Fertilizers

Choose a slow-release formula that provides longer nutrition and spread it with a broadcast spreader. When applying to newly planted sod, use half the recommended rate two weeks after planting. Fertilize again four weeks after planting with a full application.

Liquid Fertilizers

Attach to the irrigation system or spray on with a hose-end sprayer to provide immediate but shorter-term nutrients. Fertilize two weeks after planting and monthly throughout the first growing season.

During the second season, fertilize St. Augustine 3–4 times starting in early spring, allowing 6–8 weeks between applications. Apply at half the recommended rate when grass is not actively growing in summer.

Maintenance Tips for St. Augustine Grass

Regular maintenance is crucial to keeping St. Augustine grass healthy and looking its best. Proper maintenance includes:

  • Water established lawns 2–3 times per week, providing 1–2 inches of water each week to prevent browning and dormancy.
  • Mow frequently, removing no more than 1/3 of the total blade length each time. St. Augustine should be 2–4 inches tall.
  • Control weeds with pre-and post-emergent herbicides labeled for St. Augustine. You can also hand-pull small weed infestations.
  • Dethatch in spring and fall to prevent the buildup of dead grass stems and roots. Thatch prevents air, water, and nutrients from reaching the soil.
  • Aerate compacted areas in spring or fall to help the grass develop deeper roots.
  • Apply preventive fungicides to avoid diseases like brown patches, gray leaf spots, and take-all root rot.
  • Don’t remove dormant brown grass in winter unless you plan to re-sod in spring. Exposing dormant roots may kill the grass.

So, Is Spreading St. Augustine Grass Worth the Effort?

While St. Augustine grass may take several weeks to establish and requires regular maintenance, its shade and drought tolerance make it a prized choice for warm-season lawns. With proper care and preparation, you’ll enjoy a lush and dense lawn of green grass.

FAQs About St. Augustine Grass

Does St. Augustine grass spread fast?

Yes, St. Augustine spreads relatively quickly, aboveground and below ground. Established St. Augustine should completely fill an area within one year. Fertilizing can speed up the spread.Yes, St. Augustine spreads relatively quickly, aboveground and below ground. Established St. Augustine should completely fill an area within one year. Fertilizing can speed up the spread.

What is the most shade-tolerant St. Augustine grass?

Seville St. Augustine is the most shade-tolerant cultivar, able to grow in partial sun. Most varieties need full sun for optimal growth.

Is St. Augustine grass high-maintenance?

St. Augustine requires more water and care than some grasses but less than others. Maintain it by mowing, fertilizing, aerating, and dethatching. It also boasts strong disease and insect resistance.

How do you revive St. Augustine grass?

To restore St. Augustine, aerate compacted areas, re-sod patches, apply fertilizer and organic matter, adjust watering, and use fungicides or insecticides as needed.

What is the hardiest St. Augustine grass type?

Palmetto St. Augustine is considered the hardiest cultivar overall, with good resistance to diseases, drought, and shade.

Editorial Contributors
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Jonathon Jachura


Jonathon Jachura is a two-time homeowner with hands-on experience with HVAC, gutters, plumbing, lawn care, pest control, and other aspects of owning a home. He is passionate about home maintenance and finding the best services. His main goal is to educate others with crisp, concise descriptions that any homeowner can use. Jon uses his strong technical background to create engaging, easy-to-read, and informative guides. He does most of his home and lawn projects himself but hires professional companies for the “big things.” He knows what goes into finding the best service providers and contractors. Jon studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana and worked in the HVAC industry for 12 years. Between his various home improvement projects, he enjoys the outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and spending time with his family.

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Andrew Foligno

Andrew Foligno is an editor for Today’s Homeowner, with over 6 years of experience working in digital marketing. He started his career as a content writer at an agency, covering industries such as HVAC, plumbing, painting, lawn care, and more. Soon, he was promoted to an editor position where he oversaw a team of writers before moving on to other facets of digital marketing. When he isn’t working, Andrew enjoys going to the gym to be active, as well as going to the movies to unwind.

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