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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

Grass is everywhere, in almost every color, size, and shape, so it’s no wonder that some people have difficulty choosing a grass for their lawn. St. Augustine is frequently recommended, and it seems to be a favorite of many. Why is it so popular, though, and is it right for your lawn? 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.

A house with green grass

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 it’s name: St. Augustine, after St. Augustine, Florida.

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.

  • Clear away old grass, sod, or weeds
  • Loosen the soil
  • Water your soil before planting
  • Plant your plugs or lay your sod
  • Spread any mulch, fertilizer, or compost
  • High nitrogen fertilizer or compost is best
  • Otherwise use a balanced mix
St. Augustine grass

Care and upkeep

Once your lawn is planted, 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.

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.

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