How to Spread St. Augustine Grass

“Is there something I can do to make my St. Augustine grass spread over the rest of the yard more quickly?” -Joe

St. Augustine grass spreads both by rhizomes and stolons, meaning that it sends out runners both above and below ground. It’s normally a very aggressive spreader – in fact, most of the time I hear questions about how to stop it! St. Augustine is a warm-season grass that grows well in full sun and moist soil in warm, coastal areas.

If you have large bare spots, you may want to propagate the grass instead of waiting for it to spread. Because the seeds are so difficult to collect, St. Augustine is commercially available only as plugs, sprigs, or sod. You can buy these, or you can spread it yourself by digging small plugs or sprigs from an established area and planting them in the bare spots.

St. Augustine responds well to nitrogen fertilizer, but it’s vulnerable to over-fertilization. Use a mixture of instant and slow-release fertilizers for best results, at a rate of no more than 1 lb of nitrogen per 1000 square feet per month during the growing season (spring to early fall). Check with your garden center for fertilizers specific to St. Augustine grass.



  1. What is the best grass to use for sandy soil and will with stand long periods of drought ?
    The past 2 summers have been vary dry with 4 to 6 weeks of little to no rain. This has killed off alot of my lawn. I live in the country and I water my trees and scrubs and flowers but don’t want to run my well pump all day to do the lawn.

    • Hi Roderick,
      I’m no expert, but here in the Deep South, where we have lots of hot weather and afternoon thunderstorms during the summer, St. Augustine does well and spreads like crazy. I have a patch of anemic looking Bermuda as well that hasn’t done anything since I’ve been here.

  2. I need some serious help! My backyard is very sandy and I have St. Augustine growing well on one side but I also have Bermuda growing as well. I really hate the Bermuda and I won’t even comment on the crab grass that has consumed 3/4 of my yard. I’ve only had 2 seasons to try and get the St. Augustine to run, I’ve even tilled about 1/8 of the yard and planted runners of St.Augustine with no luck, someone please help me with some tips to get it rolling! Desperate in Virginia.

  3. Nateman,
    I am in Gloucester, VA and I have had St. Augustine growing in my yard for a couple of years. I think the variety you have will make a difference. I researched and got Palmetto for it’s cold tolerance. Friends nearby have had a lot of luck with it for years. Mine seems to be spreading nicely. First year was slow, next year went faster to spread.

  4. I moved into my new home and i believe the grass was st. augustine but now i barely have any because a very thin type of grass is growing over it (I think bermuda). I also have some crab grass, star of bethlehem and some purple flower looking weeds but although i can defeat those, i dont know what to do about my st. augustine grass. How do i get rid of the thin grass and get my st. augustine to grow and spread. I know the best was would be re-sodding the lawn, but is there a less expensive way? I live in Houston,TX if that helps.

  5. I have a 10ft. section of st.Augustine lawn that has died. Can I rake out most of the dead grass and then lay sections of new sod over it? without diging out all the old grass?

  6. To Crystal:
    It sounds like you have the same problem that many others have, who over-water, have poor drainage, and neglect to water when needed only. The thin grass is most-likely “Nut-sage”, and not a grass at all. It clusters and smothers any grass and also propagates anywhere grass died. It loves heavy water and tolerates desert dryness. Poor drainage and desert dryness kills all grass. Sage wins. Look into “Sage-hammer” if you identify it as sage. Pulling does nothing and no other chemical is st Augustine safe, and also effective. Then add sand and fix that water retention issue. St Augustine loves sand more than it loves soil. Soil just rots and promotes disease and weeds. That is why traditional grass growers fail. Lastly, water it ONLY when it has begun to fold in half. If the blades are wide, it has plenty of water. Water it long and only that once. One hour or 1 to 2 inches deep watering. Water lightly and the roots stay on top and die with the first dry day you neglect to water it. Deep roots never dry in sand.

  7. How deep do I need to trench to keep my St Augustine from sending runners under/over the edge that would cover my flagstone path? Already I have had to uncover several as this grass likes to envelope everything at ground level.

    Thank you!

  8. I have pulled out my Tall Fescue grass from the front last year, but kept some of the grass clippings for mulch around some plants. Apparently there must have been some St. Augustine in the mix because out of the dead grass clippings I was able to replant in the back yard, from last years mulch. It has been replanted for 1 month and is coming together nicely, I only water it with gray water. Some of the grass is already 2 feet wide.

  9. I came home w/ a lot of weeds in the yard. I called my company who supposed to do and control the weeds. after a week a lot of the area became brown. I pulled most of the dead weeds.. What should I do to get my St. Augustine healthy again??

  10. When I bought my home about five years ago there was not one sprig of grass to be seen anywhere. The yard was mostly shade and the soil was dusty and dry. I had to let weeds grow in to hold some moisture in the soil. I tried laying in St. Augustine sod but it would dry up and die even with regular watering. I seeded in some Rye grass to hold additional moisture and then next year started again with the St Augustine Palmetto grass. It was a slow process but where the St. Augustine was surrounded by the rye it would take hold and started to grow and spread. Over the last few years I have slowly added about 10 sod mats per year and finally have a full lawn of thick lush St. Augustine lawn. I will make one recommendation if you want it to spread quicker do not cut it too short. When it is very hot leave it about four inches high. I always let it get a little taller in the hottest months of the year for me those days are in the 100’s with high humidity in a coastal area. As the St. Augustine took hold I just pulled out the rye which will burn off when it gets hot anyway.

  11. I have a fairly large, mostly shaded, area (10×12) killed off by storm debris from Irma that went uncollected for about 6 weeks. I waited for cooler weather, and have just installed St. Augustine plugs in the standard 12″-18″ diamond pattern using Plug Fast 18-18-6. The area is close to a large water oak so its roots dictated where I could place plugs. Where possible I used a reciprocating saw to cut the smaller roots for the 3″ holes.

    Now my question: I heard (somewhere) that spreading a layer of play sand over the area would speed the spreading of new runners. Since St. Augustine loves sand this sounds reasonable. Can anyone comment from their experience?

  12. Living in zone 10B. Large St Augustine lawn put in 2011. Mowers mow every type of lawn/vacant lot and deliver them to all lawns, good and…not so good they mow; Augustine fights to live in this onslaught of unwanted and at cross purposed seeds. In the last seven years we’ve gone from picture perfect to 50% Augustine (crab grass most deadly) Pre-emmergent help with broadleaf but too many others . Using soda to weaken the growth of CG and hours hand-weeding seem far too exhausting and pretty fruitless. We are at a loss here in this 33950 area. Any recommentations?

    • Hi, Jane,
      Here’s “Today’s Homeowner” host Danny Lipford’s answer to your question:
      “It’s always advantageous to have a soil test to make sure you have the proper pH, which should be around 7.”
      Thanks for your question.

  13. um, there’s bags of St Augustine seeds at Home Depot….. so it’s not just sod, sprigs (w/e that is), or plugs… I was gonna go pick up a bag or two this week to redo my back.

  14. I have a healthy white ash that has a 42 in circumference. But there is a subordinate branch that hangs out over the street that is 3/4 the width of the tree i dont want the tree to die but im worried the limb will be torn off in s storm when and how would be best to cut off the limb
    Appreciate your input

  15. Hello,

    question: i have bermuda grass currently…….I used seeds
    I want to cut st. augustine and cut it in places in the yard…..will it eventually over take the bermuda?



    ps…….don’t want to kill anything off………….as my yard is green, but do want st aug. down the road

  16. I live in sunny California where it gets over 100 degrees on some days during the summer season. I would like to plant Saint Augustine grass. However, I have heavy clay soil. Should I mix in some sand when planting the St. Augustine plugs?
    Thank you.


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