Skip to main content

When is the best time to plant St. Augustine grass? What you need to know

Your guide to planting and caring for St. Augustine grass

A home with a grass lawn
Midascode/Pixabay

St. Augustine is a popular lawn grass, often compared to grasses like zoysia or Bermuda grass. Often recommended for first-time homeowners, St. Augustine is low-maintenance and grows in a beautiful shade of green. Just because it’s popular doesn’t automatically mean it’s right for you, though! If you’re considering planting St. Augustine grass, looking for general information, or just curious, here’s everything you need to know about planting and caring for it to decide if St. Augustine is the best grass for your lawn.

A house with green grass
Berna Nermoglu/Shutterstock

What is St. Augustine grass?

St. Augustine is a grass variety that enjoys warm weather. It’s popular for being low maintenance and growing densely. If you want a thick, luscious lawn with minimal effort, St. Augustine grass is a good choice. Rather than the typical vibrant green color associated with most grasses, St. Augustine has a bluish tint.

If you live in a coastal region or an area known for salt mining, then you may be familiar with the difficulties associated with growing grass in salt-rich soil. St. Augustine, however, is remarkably salt tolerant. In fact, it’s popular in many coastal regions since it is one of the few grass varieties not hampered by the heavy salt found in those areas. This is reflected in its name: St. Augustine, after St. Augustine, Florida.

Green grass lawn
Zaheer Ashraf 25 / Shutterstock

When and how to plant

St. Augustine grass thrives in heat, so plant your sod or plugs in late spring or summer. Choose a time after the last frost of winter and at least three months before the first frost of fall. Once the roots are fully developed, St. Augustine grass will survive the winter mostly intact, but make sure you give your grass plenty of time to establish itself. Weaker, newly developed roots are vulnerable to frost damage.

St. Augustine is available in sod and plugs, so you can choose the planting method that best works for you. In some areas, you may find it more readily available in one form over another, so it’s best to check with your local lawn and garden stores. No matter which method you choose, there are a few steps to take before and after planting.

  1. Clear away old grass, sod, or weeds
  2. Loosen the soil
  3. Water your soil before planting
  4. Plant your plugs or lay your sod
  5. Spread any mulch, fertilizer, or compost
  6. High nitrogen fertilizer or compost is best, otherwise, use a balanced mix
A person mowing the lawn with a black push mower
NinaMalyna / Shutterstock

Care and upkeep

Once you plant your lawn, you’ll need to keep the soil moist for the first seven to 10 days so the roots can grow. Afterward, water as needed depending on your climate. Dryer climates may need watering once or twice a week, while grass in wetter climates may be able to subsist off rain alone. During the first week of growth, keep a keen eye out for fungal infections, which like to breed in wet soil. If caught early, many fungal infections can be suppressed through plenty of sunshine and nitrogen. Severe infections, however, may require special treatment with a fungicide.

After your plugs have begun to spread, you can begin applying extra fertilizer and mowing as you typically would. In general, it’s best to fertilize your St. Augustine grass every two to three months. When mowing your lawn, cutting too much off the top can stress your grass, leading to patchy, dying lawns. The ideal height is two to three inches tall.

After winter, especially in regions with harsher weather, inspect your lawn for patches that may need resodding. St. Augustine will spread and fix small patches, but it may be faster to use plugs or sod large patches. However, wait until after the chance of frost has passed.

Manicured Bermuda lawn
Aimful / Shutterstock

How does St. Augustine grass compare to other common lawn grasses?

When deciding if St. Augustine grass is right for you, it’s important to compare it to other lawn grasses. Zoysia and Bermuda grass are the two types of grass most commonly compared to St. Augustine, as they prefer roughly the same temperature range. St. Augustine has a higher tolerance for shade and salt than either zoysia or Bermuda grass, although zoysia will tolerate more shade than Bermuda grass. However, both zoysia and Bermuda grass are more drought tolerant than St. Augustine. All three will spread to fill in your yard, with Bermuda grass spreading the fastest.

Now that you know the basics of caring for St. Augustine grass, you’re ready to start planting the lawn of your dreams. This grass is a good fit for many lawns; but, if you still aren’t sure if it’s right for you, talk to the experts at your local garden and lawn supply stores. St. Augustine grass is low maintenance, reliable, and has a high salt tolerance, but the most important thing is how you feel about your lawn. If you want grass you can trust, St. Augustine might be the right grass option for you.

Editors' Recommendations

Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
When are pears in season? What you need to know
Here's the perfect time to pick your pear harvest
Pears on cutting board

Sweet, juicy, and crispy, pears are not only versatile in recipes, but they’re also some of the easiest fruits to grow in a home garden. They ever-so-slightly resemble apples in look and taste but tend to be much more resistant to pests and diseases. Plus, they're full of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium for added benefits to your health.

So, when are pears in season, and when can you pick them for cooking and eating? We’ve rounded up everything you need to know about growing, harvesting, and preparing pears for delicious homegrown snacks!
Growing pears

Read more
Zone 9b planting guide: Everything you need to know about nourishing a garden in this warm climate
The best plants to grow in zone 9b and when to grow them
A happy gardener with gloves

From show-stopping roses to hardy agave, zone 9b is home to plants of all stripes, thanks to its warm, sunny conditions. It’s also an ideal environment for a wide range of fruits and veggies, whether you’re partial to hot peppers or sweet cherries. Its hot summers can be challenging, but it’s generally a productive and lush area for thriving plant life. Here’s your zone 9b planting guide so you can nourish a fruitful and beautiful garden in one of the country's warmest areas.

What is a climate zone?
With climate zones on the Plant Hardiness Zone Map, the United States Department of Agriculture divides the country into 13 regions based on average annual minimum temperature ranges. The temperature ranges go from coldest to hottest as we move from zone 1 to 13. Zone 9b, as you may have already guessed, falls on the warmer parts of the map.

Read more
Zone 10a planting guide: Here’s what you need to know about what you can plant
Plants and their growing schedules for this zone
Woman reading book by plants

Consisting of the southernmost parts of the U.S., zone 10a is a rich region for a wide range of plants. While you might need to keep an eye out for your tender herbs and cold-hardy plants, many flowers, succulents, and plants can thrive in zone 10a's warm temperature outdoors. Below, we've put together a zone 10a planting guide to break down all that you need to know about this welcoming environment for nourishing foliage life.

What is a climate zone? 
With the Plant Hardiness Zone Map, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has divided the country into 13 different climate zones based on average annual minimum temperature ranges. Zone 1 has the coolest temperatures, while zone 13 has the warmest ones.

Read more