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Plant St. Augustine Grass Plugs: Step-by-Step Guide (2023)

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how to plant st augustine grass plugsAre you looking to plant St. Augustine grass plugs, but don’t know where to start? This guide will walk you through the entire process of planting St. Augustine grass plugs, from soil preparation and planning measurements right down to watering and caring for your new lawn.

We’ll discuss what St. Augustine grass plugs are, when the best time is for planting them, how long they take to spread, and whether you can plant from seed instead of using pre-made plugs.

We’ll also cover some common pests and diseases that affect this type of grass so your lawn stays healthy year round.

So get ready – let’s dive into everything you need to know about planting St. Augustine grass plugs!

First, we’ll go over soil preparation and planning the proper measurements.

Next, we’ll discuss when to plant the plugs for optimal growing conditions.

We’ll also explain if seeding is an option, and how long the plugs take to spread.

Finally, we’ll provide tips on watering and caring for your new St. Augustine lawn, as well as how to prevent common pests and diseases.

Key Takeaways

  • Planting St. Augustine grass plugs provides a quicker and more reliable way to establish a lawn compared to other methods like seeding.
  • Proper preparation of the soil, including testing it and incorporating compost, is essential for the successful planting of grass plugs.
  • The plugs should be planted 12-15 inches apart in a staggered pattern. Be sure to water them immediately after planting to reduce transplant shock.
  • Follow-up care like fertilization and mowing at the proper height is necessary to maintain a dense, healthy St. Augustine lawn over time.

How to Plant St. Augustine Grass Plugs

How to Plant St. Augustine Grass Plugs
When it’s time to fill in bare spots or establish a new St. Augustine lawn, planting grass plugs is an effective method. Proper planning, soil preparation, planting technique, and follow-up care will ensure your grass plugs establish successfully for a lush, healthy lawn.

Thorough planning and preparation are key when planting St. Augustine grass plugs. First, identify bare or patchy areas of the lawn that need filling in. Next, prepare the soil by loosening it, removing debris, and mixing in a thin layer of compost to enrich it.

When selecting grass plugs, choose young, healthy sprigs from an existing St. Augustine lawn, or purchase them from a nursery. Spacing the plugs 12-15 inches apart will allow them to fill in properly. Before planting, water the soil deeply to moisten it.

To plant each plug, use a spade or garden trowel to make a hole, then gently place the grass plug into it. Firm the soil around the base of the plug to eliminate air pockets. Water immediately after planting, and continue to keep the soil moist but not soaked as the grass establishes over several weeks.

Proper follow-up care is crucial. Apply a starter fertilizer at planting time, then fertilize periodically throughout the growing season. Mow once the new grass reaches 3 inches tall, but be sure not to cut off more than 1/3 of the blade height at each mowing.

Within a season, the grass plugs will spread and thicken to complete your lush St.

Soil Preparation

You’ll want to test the soil and eliminate any grass or weeds before planting your St. Augustine plugs. Check the pH and nutrient levels, then use an herbicide to kill existing grass and weeds. Wait the recommended time for it to dissipate before tilling and raking to remove dead material.

This preparation ensures your plugs can establish in fertile, weed-free soil to spread into a lush, healthy lawn.

Planning and Measurement

Measure the location with a tape measure or use an online calculator tool to determine the square footage and plug spacing needed for your new St. Augustine oasis. Select a grass type suitable for your climate and preferences. Test the soil to correct any deficiencies beforehand.

Use a lawn area calculator to map out the shape and get total square footage. Account for hardscaping without grass. Standard plug spacing is 6-18 inches apart. Plan for 36 plugs per tray to cover 64 sq ft at 12 inch spacing.

Consider the grass plug growth rate when planning hole spacing and number of trays needed.

Planting Technique

After killing the old grass and weeds, use an auger bit to drill holes where you’ve marked for plug planting. Gently water the holes first to soften the soil before inserting your plugs at the proper spacing.

Firmly press the plugs into place, ensuring good soil contact on all sides. Apply starter fertilizer to aid rooting and water daily until established. Mowing, fertilizing, and overseeding will help your plugs fill in quickly for a lush, healthy lawn.

Watering and Care

Keep your new plugs happy by watering daily until established; avoid letting the soil dry out completely. Adequate water for rooting and establishment is crucial. Continue regular watering for 2-3 weeks until plugs are firmly rooted.

Then monitor soil moisture and water as needed. Let the top inch dry between waterings to promote deep roots once plugs are established. Feed with a balanced fertilizer after 4-6 weeks. Mow higher initially, then gradually lower the height over time.

Be patient as plugs fill in and develop into a lush lawn. Proper care yields healthy St.

When is the Best Time to Plant St. Augustine Grass Plugs?

When is the Best Time to Plant St. Augustine Grass Plugs
The best time to plant St. Augustine grass plugs depends on your region. In warmer southern zones like Florida, spring and summer offer prime growing conditions, while in cooler northern areas early fall may be ideal for establishing new grass before winter dormancy sets in.

Ideal Planting Season

The ideal time to install St. Augustine grass plugs is during the warm growing months from spring through summer. The best planting season is March to July, when nighttime temperatures consistently stay above 65°F.

These warm soil and air temperatures promote faster rooting and establishment. Be sure to water the new plugs daily until fully rooted, usually around 3 weeks. Mowing should begin once the young grass reaches 3 inches tall. Gradually lower the height over time to your desired length.

Considerations for Different Regions

You’ll want to plant your St. Augustine grass plugs in spring or summer in the South, but fall is best up North. Regional considerations are important when determining the ideal planting time for St. Augustine grass. Climate suitability, temperature, humidity, and hardiness zones 7 to 12 play a role in determining when to plant this warm-season grass variety.

It’s also crucial to select the right type of grass based on these factors and conduct soil testing for proper nutrient balance before planting at the recommended density.

What Are St. Augustine Grass Plugs?

What Are St. Augustine Grass Plugs
St. Augustine grass plugs are small sections of turfgrass grown in trays that contain the grass stems, roots, and soil intact. Utilizing plugs for planting enables establishing St. Augustine grass rapidly without needing to grow it from seed, and the plugs fill in within a few weeks to yield a lush, dense lawn.

Definition and Characteristics

Feel those dense, deep roots and stiff blades firmly packed between your fingers as you move the hearty St. Augustine plugs around in your hand. St. Augustine is a warm season grass often used for lawns in the southern United States.

This thick turfgrass spreads by rhizomes and stolons. Its stiff blades form a dense mat. St. Augustine tolerates heat, resists wear, and requires less mowing due to slow vertical growth. For homeowners seeking a lush, durable lawn, St. Augustine grass plugs offer an easy planting method.

Benefits of Using Plugs for Planting

Choosing plugs over seed gives you quicker, more reliable results when establishing St. Augustine grass. Plugs establish faster with less maintenance since the plants are more mature. You’ll achieve full coverage sooner than waiting for seeds to germinate and spread.

Plugs also have higher survival rates and allow you to fill in bare spots precisely.

How Long Does It Take for St. Augustine Grass Plugs to Spread?

How Long Does It Take for St. Augustine Grass Plugs to Spread
How fast your St. Augustine grass plugs spread depends on several key factors. Proper spacing and preparation will ensure your plugs establish quickly to fill in bare spots.

Factors Affecting Spread Rate

Sunlight and moisture determine how quickly your grass spreads. St. Augustine produces runners called stolons that spread outward. With optimal growth conditions, the grass spreads faster. Provide at least 6 hours of direct sun, water 1 inch per week, fertilize regularly, and keep thatch under control.

Mowing height also impacts spread rate. Cut no lower than 3 inches for best lateral growth. Weeds, insects, and diseases slow spreading. Maintain proper conditions and St. Augustine plugs can fill an area in one growing season.

High-Density Vs. Low-Density Plug Installation

Your lawn will fill in faster if you plant the St. Augustine plugs close together rather than far apart. Overcome the urge to space them out widely. The key benefits of high-density installation are quicker fill-in and fuller coverage.

With low-density spacing, the lawn takes longer to knit together and has more bare spots. Consider your goals and time frame when deciding on plug spacing. Dense planting gives a filled-in look faster, while wider spacing is often done to save money on plugs.

Can You Plant St. Augustine Grass From Seed?

Can You Plant St. Augustine Grass From Seed
St. Augustine grass is not readily available in seed form for home lawns like other turfgrasses. However, you can successfully plant St. Augustine grass from seed with a few considerations. The grass grows best in warm climates and requires specific care and conditions to establish successfully from seed.

Availability of St. Augustine Grass Seeds

Unfortunately, St. Augustine cannot be grown from seed since you’re unable to buy the seeds commercially.

  • No viable St. Augustine grass seeds are sold to consumers or professionals.
  • The seeds have poor germination rates, even under ideal growing conditions.
  • Only sterile hybrid varieties are propagated vegetatively.
  • It is genetically impossible to successfully grow St. Augustine grass from seed.
  • Plugs or sod are the only two planting options currently available for this grass type.

Considerations for Planting From Seed

Mate, St. Augustine seed is iffy for planting as it may not grow true-to-type grass. Soil preparation and climate suitability are key. Ensure proper drainage, sun exposure, and temperatures for the variety.

Prepare the soil and eliminate weeds fully. Allow herbicide to dissipate before plugging. Space plugs properly for coverage. Water daily until established. With care, plugs can fill in bare spots or establish new turf.

Common Pests and Diseases Affecting St. Augustine Grass Plugs

Common Pests and Diseases Affecting St. Augustine Grass Plugs
St. Augustine grass is prone to several common pests and diseases that can damage your new plugs. To keep your lawn healthy, you’ll need to learn how to identify and manage pest infestations as well as recognize and treat diseases.

Some of the most problematic pests for St. Augustine grass are chinch bugs, nematodes, armyworms, and webworms. Chinch bugs are small, black insects that suck nutrients and moisture from grass blades, causing yellow or brown patches in the lawn.

Nematodes are microscopic roundworms that attack roots, leading to stunted growth and dieback. Armyworms and webworms are caterpillar pests that chew on grass blades and can completely defoliate areas of the lawn if left unchecked.

Common fungal diseases include brown patch, gray leaf spot, and dollar spot. Brown patch causes circular areas of brown, dying grass up to several feet wide. Gray leaf spot results in straw-colored blotches on grass blades, while dollar spot leads to round, brown spots the size of coins scattered across the lawn.

Other issues like large patch fungus, fairy ring, and take-all root rot can also occasionally impact St. Augustine. Proper mowing, irrigation, fertilization and fungus control products can help prevent outbreaks of these diseases.

Be vigilant about monitoring for pests and disease symptoms and take prompt action to treat any issues before they spread. With good cultural practices and early intervention, you can keep your new St. Augustine plugs green and growing strongly.

Identifying and Managing Pest Infestations

Champ, dealing with those pesky grubs munching on your plugs as soon as possible helps ensure your St. Augustine thrives. Swiftly identifying insect pests or diseases attacking your new grass allows timely action before major damage occurs.

Scout regularly for signs like chewed blades or wilting. Apply targeted, safe treatments to eliminate lawn invaders without harming beneficial species. With diligent monitoring and control, your lush plugs will conquer pest problems.

Stay vigilant for signs of infestation and take prompt, selective action to protect your investment.

Recognizing and Treating Common Diseases

You’ll need to be vigilant in spotting common diseases like brown patch and gray leaf spot so you can treat your St.

For example, if you notice brown circular patches that are up to several feet wide appearing on your new plugs, that likely indicates brown patch fungus, which spreads rapidly in hot and humid weather.

  • Apply fungicide as soon as disease symptoms are spotted.
  • Improve airflow and reduce humidity levels around plants.
  • Avoid overwatering and let soil dry between waterings.

Managing diseases quickly is crucial for healthy St. Augustine grass plugs. Regularly inspect plants and act fast at first signs of problems. Good cultural practices like proper watering, mowing height, and fertilization will help prevent many diseases from taking hold.


Ultimately, planting St. Augustine grass plugs is a quick way to establish a beautiful lawn. With a few simple steps, you can transform any patchy area into a lush, healthy outdoor space.

  • Prepare the soil. Aerate it and remove any debris.
  • Pick the right season. Plant plugs in spring or summer when temps are warm.
  • Choose correct installation. Plant plugs 6-12 inches apart in soil.
  • Watch for pests/diseases. St. Augustine is prone to chinch bugs and fungal issues.

With the right care, your St. Augustine plugs will spread and fill bare spots quickly. Research and prep first for your dream lawn. With time and attention, your plugs will establish a lush, green grass carpet.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

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.