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St. Augustine Grass: Costs, Care, and Maintenance (2023)

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how much is st augustine grassAre you looking for the perfect turfgrass to turn your outdoor space into an oasis? St.

As one of the most popular warm-season varieties in Southern states, St. Augustine grass is ideal for those wanting to create their dream lawn without breaking the bank.

In this article we will cover all aspects related to St. Augustine Grass: costs, care, and maintenance tips so you can make sure your lawn looks its best whatever season it may be!

Key Takeaways

  • St. Augustine grass is a popular warm-season turfgrass for Southern states. It requires plenty of water and fertilizer for optimal growth.
  • The cost for St. Augustine grass sod ranges from $0.80 to $1.50 per square foot, with installation adding an extra $0.50 to $1.50 per square foot.
  • Propagating your own plugs can help you save on costs.

What is St. Augustine Grass?

What is St. Augustine Grass
If you’re looking to grow St. Augustine grass, this hardy grass has bluish-green blades that spread quickly to choke out weeds. However, it requires plenty of water and fertilizer. St. Augustine withstands shade better than Bermuda, but it’s less tolerant of cold weather and drought.

Characteristics and Growing Conditions

You’ll see those wide, bluish-green blades thriving in the heat and humidity of your zone 8 garden. St. Augustine grass is a warm season turfgrass ideal for the southern climate. It has coarse, broad blades and spreads via above-ground stolons to form a thick, dense mat.

This grass grows best in full sun and moist, fertile, well-drained soil. To keep it healthy, provide 1-1.5 inches of water weekly. Proper mowing, fertilization, insect control, and disease control will ensure a lush, soft lawn.

Comparison With Bermuda Grass

Unlike cold-natured St. Augustine, rugged Bermuda grass thrives in heat and drought like a camel in the desert. This popular grass variety requires far less water to grow vibrantly green. Bermuda laughs at shade while St.

Augustine sulks limply, demanding full southern sun exposure. And for all its resilience and adaptability, Bermuda grass still costs less to maintain over time. In short, Bermuda is ideal for hot, arid climates where water comes at a premium.

St. Augustine Grass Care

St. Augustine Grass Care
When caring for St. Augustine grass, you’ll want to ensure it gets the right combination of sun and shade. Proper preparation of the soil, watering, fertilization, and maintaining ideal temperature and humidity levels are also key.

Light and Shade Requirements

St. Augustine grass flourishes in sunny locations, though partial shade is acceptable. This type of grass thrives with 6-8 hours of sunlight but also tolerates filtered light or dappled shade. Some shade varieties such as Seville and Palmetto tolerate more shade than other cultivars.

Soil Preparation and Maintenance

Prepare the soil well before planting your St. Augustine by tilling and amending with compost. Healthy soil leads to a lush, thriving lawn. Test and adjust soil nutrients regularly.

Nutrient Ideal Range How to Manage
pH 6.0-7.5 Add lime to raise, sulfur to lower
Nitrogen 4-6 lbs per 1000 sq ft per year Fertilize in summer
Potassium 4-6 lbs per 1000 sq ft per year Fertilize in spring and fall
Phosphorus 1-2 lbs per 1000 sq ft per year Avoid excess amounts

Proper soil care keeps your St. Augustine grass green and growing vigorously.

Watering Guidelines

You’ll want to thoroughly soak your grass every week, weather permitting. St. Augustine grass needs about 1-1.5 inches of water per week during summer’s heat to stay green and healthy. Check soil moisture before watering and irrigate as needed.

This type of grass is less drought resistant than some varieties, so maintain proper soil moisture levels.

Temperature and Humidity Considerations

Warm weather and humidity are vital for St. Augustine grass to thrive. You’ll want daytime highs consistently above 80°F for ideal growth and deep green color. Humidity also encourages lush, healthy grass. St. Augustine requires a warm, humid climate.

Fertilization Techniques

While tending your St. Augustine grass, heed the clock’s rhythmic tick as you carefully spread fertilizer across the verdant expanse – may your labors bear lush, vibrant growth. Timing, rate, and application method matter for fertilization techniques. Match nutrient needs to grass health for soil enrichment and growth stimulation.

Adjust cultural and chemical controls to avoid deficiencies. Varying cultural practices and fertilizer applications based on season, weather, and grass conditions will promote optimal turfgrass growth.

Proper mowing, irrigation, pest control, and soil amendment use combined with the right fertilizer source, timing, placement and rate lead to an enviably lush, healthy lawn. Follow product labels for recommended application rates and techniques. Spread granular fertilizers with a broadcast or drop spreader, working in crisscross patterns for even coverage without skips and overlaps.

Apply soluble fertilizers via sprayers or hose-end applicators. Incorporate organic options like compost and manure to supply a slow, steady release of nutrients. With diligent fertilization timed to periods of active growth, your grass will thrive and spread a vibrant green carpet underfoot.

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Propagating St. Augustine Grass

Propagating St. Augustine Grass
When it comes to propagating St. Augustine grass, there are a couple of options. The most common and effective method is to plant sod plugs 1-2 feet apart when establishing new growth. Seeding St. Augustine can be tricky and rarely produces the thick, lush result you get from laying down sod.

Sod Plugs and Spacing

St. Augustine grass is typically propagated by planting sod plugs 1-2 feet apart.

  • Sod plugs allow the grass to establish quicker than seed.
  • Proper spacing prevents overcrowding as the grass fills in.
  • Prepare the soil by tilling and removing weeds before planting.
  • Water newly planted plugs daily until fully rooted, about 2-3 weeks.
  • Once established, St. Augustine forms a lush, dense lawn.

The sod plug method provides an efficient way to establish and fill in St. Augustine grass. With good soil prep and consistent watering, the plugs will spread to create a thick, durable lawn.

Seeding Vs. Sodding

You’ll typically install St. Augustine grass by sodding, not seeding, for faster establishment and weed prevention. Seeding St. Augustine can be tricky with uneven germination. Sod establishes quicker, offers immediate lawn coverage, and outcompetes weeds.

However, seeding costs less upfront. Evaluate time, cost, and maintenance considerations when deciding on St. Augustine establishment methods. Sodding excels for quicker lawn renovation but requires more watering initially.

Overwintering St. Augustine Grass

Overwintering St. Augustine Grass
As a warm-season grass, St. Augustine goes dormant and turns brown during winter months. To protect it, continue mowing until growth stops to avoid shock and apply a winterizing fertilizer to strengthen roots before frost.

Additionally, avoid heavy traffic on dormant grass and delay major pruning until spring.

Winter Dormancy and Browning

Your green hair will turn brown and fall asleep when Jack Frost visits, but it’ll wake back up when he leaves.

  1. Stop fertilizing 6-8 weeks before first frost.
  2. Raise mower height to 3 inches for winter.
  3. Remove dead material by lightly raking.
  4. Apply pre-emergent for winter weeds in fall.
  5. Water if drought stress occurs during dormancy.

St. Augustine grass enters winter dormancy, causing blades to turn brown. However, proper seasonal maintenance prevents severe discoloration, ensuring your lawn springs back to life in warm weather.

Protection Measures

Since St. Augustine grass goes dormant in winter, insulate the crown and roots by applying a 2-3 inch layer of mulch before the first hard freeze to provide protection. Protecting St. Augustine grass in winter is key to avoiding disease and damage. Use a natural, organic mulch like pine straw or leaves around the base of the grass.

Avoid excessive mulch layers, which can promote fungal issues. Check for thinning mulch in early spring and reapply if needed.

Common Pests and Diseases of St. Augustine Grass

Common Pests and Diseases of St. Augustine Grass
Growing a lush, green lawn of St. Augustine grass takes some work. Chinch bugs and downy mildew disease are two common pests and diseases you’ll need to watch out for with St.

Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs drain the life from St. Augustine grass lawns as they suck up moisture and nutrients. To control their damage, check for the pests under mats or thatch. Their small, reddish-black bodies move fast, so inspect on sunny days.

Apply insecticides like bifenthrin if bugs appear, and keep St. Augustine grass mowed high to fend them off. Preventive neem oil spraying also helps protect against these common pests. Always identify and act quickly to manage chinch bugs’ lifecycle in your lawn.

Downy Mildew Disease

After the chinch bugs, your St. Augustine grass might succumb to downy mildew disease once summer days turn humid. This fungal infection thrives in hot, wet weather. Look for yellowing leaves with purple-gray fuzz on the undersides.

To prevent downy mildew, maintain proper soil pH and fertilization. Promote airflow in the lawn. Treat early with fungicides containing azoxystrobin, propiconazole, or chlorothalonil. If you promptly identify and treat the disease, you can get downy mildew under control and restore your St.

St. Augustine Grass Types

St. Augustine Grass Types
You might try sod from improved ‘Palmetto’ or ‘Floratam’ cultivars for a cleaner lawn.

‘Palmetto’ St. Augustine grass has excellent shade, cold, and drought tolerance versus other cultivars.

‘Floratam’ St. Augustine grass has good disease and chinch bug resistance. It’s also more salt tolerant than others.

‘Bitterblue’ St. Augustine grass has thinner, dense blades for a more manicured look.

When picking a St. Augustine type, consider sun exposure, soil, and desired aesthetics. Choosing an improved cultivar can provide better disease resistance, wear tolerance, and appearance over common types.

Proper mowing, watering, and fertilizing will keep any St. Augustine variety green through the seasons.

How to Grow St. Augustine Grass From Seed

How to Grow St. Augustine Grass From Seed
While rarely done, sowing St. Augustine seed requires plenty of patience, as full establishment can take over a year.

To grow St. Augustine grass from seed:

  1. Conduct a soil test and amend soil as needed. Proper pH and nutrients are crucial.
  2. Thoroughly prepare the top 6 inches of soil. Remove weeds, break up compaction.
  3. Sow seed in late spring or early summer at a rate of 1-2 lbs per 1,000 sq ft. Rake lightly into top 1/4 inch of soil.
  4. Water deeply and frequently to maintain constant moisture for seed germination. Expect it to take 30-90 days to sprout.
  5. Once established, water 1-2 times per week. Fertilize 3-4 times per year. Mow to 3-4 inches height.

Growing St. Augustine grass from seed is possible but challenging. The keys are patience through germination and the first year, along with proper soil prep and consistent moisture. If you’re successful, you’ll have a lush, durable St. Augustine lawn for years to come.

Disadvantages of St. Augustine Grass

Disadvantages of St. Augustine Grass
Raising St. Augustine grass requires intense maintenance and care. This warm-season grass is prone to diseases like brown patch and take-all root rot, plus pests like chinch bugs, which can quickly damage your lawn.

Maintenance Requirements

Pal, St. Augustine demands a good bit of watering and feeding to look its best. Mow to 3-4 inches, and fertilize 3-4 times a year based on soil tests to get those nutrients down into the roots. Irrigate deeply and infrequently to encourage deep roots. Scout regularly for weeds, chinch bugs and disease to stay ahead of issues.

It’s thirsty turf, so installing irrigation helps reduce hand watering. Don’t let it dry out but avoid soggy soil. Give it what it wants and you’ll be rewarded with a lush, emerald carpet all summer long.

Susceptibility to Diseases and Pests

Unfortunately, this species is prone to fungal diseases like brown patch and gray leaf spot.

  1. Chinch bugs – Encourage beneficial insects like ladybugs and mosquito control to help control chinch bugs.
  2. Gray leaf spot – Improve air circulation around the grass and avoid overwatering to help prevent gray leaf spot.
  3. Downy mildew – Apply fungicides preventatively to protect against downy mildew.
  4. Take-all root rot – Avoid overwatering and reduce thatch buildup to prevent take-all root rot.
  5. Brown patch – Apply appropriate fungicide and improve drainage to manage brown patch.

Following best practices for lawn care and maintenance can help keep St. Augustine grass healthy and more resistant to pests and diseases.

Seasonal Care for St. Augustine Grass

Seasonal Care for St. Augustine Grass
When it comes to caring for your St. Augustine lawn, there are some key things to keep in mind during different times of the year. From January through April, focus on dormant maintenance; from May through August, you’ll be actively growing and mowing the grass; and from September through December, prepare the lawn for winter and early spring growth.

January Through April

You’ll want to start renewing your St. Augustine in late winter. Believe it or not, nearly 95% of homeowners don’t fertilize at this time, even though it’s crucial for lush growth. In late winter, apply a preemergent herbicide to prevent crabgrass and other weeds.

Irrigate as needed if drought conditions occur to prevent winter desiccation. Mowing can resume once greenup begins, around 2-3 inches high.

January February March
Apply preemergent herbicide Monitor for insect pests Begin mowing at 2-3 inches
Irrigate during drought Scout for disease Fertilize with nitrogen
Check for winter damage Increase mowing frequency

Proper late winter and early spring care will ensure your St. Augustine transitions well into the active growing season.

May Through August

During summer’s heat you’ll be mowing and watering to keep that lush green carpet growing. St. Augustine thrives in the steamy summer sun if properly hydrated when the soil dries out. Adjust the mowing height to suit growth and apply summer fertilizer. Monitor for chinch bugs and treat them promptly.

Augustine won’t survive extended freezes, but it tolerates summer heat well. Select cold-tolerant cultivars like Palmetto or Raleigh to avoid winter die-back. With attentive summer care, your St. Augustine lawn will flourish despite the soaring temperatures.

September Through December

Have you noticed your St. Augustine lawn slowing down and looking tired as fall approaches in September through December? Here are some tips for fall care:

  • Raise mower height to protect the grass’s roots.
  • Apply a winterizer fertilizer formulated for St. Augustine lawns.
  • Continue watering the lawn until the first frost arrives.
  • Remove any fallen leaves and debris to prevent pests or diseases.
  • Monitor the lawn for any pest or disease damage.

As the temperatures drop, reduce the frequency of watering and mowing for your St. Augustine grass. Focus on protective measures before the lawn enters winter dormancy in USDA Hardiness Zones 7-12. Proper autumn care will ensure the grass remains healthy and revives vigorously in spring.

The Cost of St. Augustine Grass

The Cost of St. Augustine Grass
When choosing sod, retain your green by weighing price versus durability. St. Augustine grass can cost between $0.80-$1.50 per square foot for sod, with installation adding another $0.50-$1.50 per square foot.

For a lawn of 1000 sq ft, that’s around $1,300-$3,000 total! But this warm season grass’s cohesive mat of thick blades does resist drought and stays verdant longer than any other.

Use quality suppliers, as lower grade or improperly maintained sod fades fast. Consider buying plugs for $3-5 and propagating your own over a few seasons. With a little time and patience, you’ll get an enviable emerald carpet minus the sticker shock.

Maintenance does run $70-$100 monthly for fertilizing, mowing, watering, but protecting your investment in durable St.


St. Augustine grass is a warm-season grass that can be a great addition to your lawn or garden. It thrives in heat, humidity, and coastal areas. It has wide, flat blades which make it a great choice for a lush, green lawn.

It’s relatively low-maintenance, although it does require regular watering and fertilizing. It can be propagated using sod plugs or seeds. Though it’s prone to pests and diseases, like chinch bugs and downy mildew, with proper care and maintenance, a St.

The cost of St. Augustine grass varies depending on the type and size of the grass, and the installation method. All in all, St. Augustine grass is a great, cost-effective option for a beautiful lawn.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.