St. Augustine Grass Sod for North Florida Lawns
( Stepnotaphrum secundatum Kuntze )
St. Augustine grass sod is the most commonly used lawn grass throughout Florida. It is well adapted to warmth and humidity making it and ideal sod candidate for our warm climate with heavy rainfall. It can be successfully grown in a wide range of soils but will require irrigation and a moderate soil fertility in order to develop a high quality turf.
Origination of St. Augustine Grass:
St. Augustine grass is said to have originated both in the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Mexico.
Deep blue green color and a dense foliage cover
Well adapted to a wide variety of soils
Tolerant of a wide range of soil PH levels
Good Salt tolerance
Cultivars available with good shade tolerance when compared to other warm season grasses
Establishes quickly form sod making it easy on homeowners to develop an “instant lawn”
Fast growth rate, recovers quickly from damage
Coarse leaf texture may be disliked by some as a lawn grass
Requires irrigation to produce a quality turf
Not drought tolerant and will brown out if supplemental irrigation is not supplied during drought conditions
Thatch buildup can occur
Lower traffic tolerance
Damage from chinch bugs
Not available from seed
Some cultivars susceptible to gray leaf spot, large brown patch and take all root rot
Soil Preference of St. Augustine Grass:
St. Augustine grass cultivars are tolerant of a wide range of soils and soil PH levels
St. Augustine grass is among the most shade tolerant of the warm season grasses with some varieties of St. Augustine tolerating shaded conditions extremely well including ‘Bitterblue’ in the normal growth habit range and ‘Seville’ in the dwarf growth habit cultivars.
Salt Tolerance of ST. Augustine Sod:
All varieties of St. Augustine sod have good salt tolerance and are extensively used in Florida’s coastal areas. It is tolerant both of salt spray and sodic soils.
Water Requirements for A St. Augustine Grass Lawn:
Established St Augustine grass should be watered on an as needed basis. When leaf blades begin to turn a gray green color, fold up or when footprints remain on lawn after walking across it then you know it is time to water your lawn. Apply ¾ inch of water with an irrigation system or sprinkler watering to a depth of 8-12 inches deep in the morning if possible before 10 am to avoid water loss through evaporation.
Watering frequency will vary with the seasons and local rainfall levels, but take care not to decrease the water quantity at any time, adjust water frequency. This helps not only to drought proof your lawn but keep it healthy and free from disease as well.
CAUTION – St. Augustine grass sod requires a different approach to mowing than all other warm season lawn grasses!
Standard ST. Augustine Sod
Mow cultivars of Standard St. Augustine grass sod to 3.5 – 4 inches tall! Repeatedly mowing at a lower height can increase the stress on your lawn, thereby increasing lawn problems including shallow grass roots, increases susceptibility to pest problems and lowered defense against diseases.
Dwarf St. Augustine Sod
Dwarf varieties of St. Augustine grass sod should be mowed at 2 – 2.5 inch heights.
St Augustine grass sod has lower traffic tolerance
St. Augustine grass lawns will require at a minimum of 2 times a year in the spring and again in the late summer fertilizer application including a complete fertilizer like 16-4-8, 10-10-10 or 6-6-6 with micronutrients at the rate of 1 lb of actual nitrogen per 1000 s.f. of grass area. Grass clippings should be left on lawns being minimally maintained.
For optimum appearance, St. Augustine lawns will need an additional 2 times a year. The Early spring (March) then the twice additional in summer (May and again in July) then the late summer or early fall application in September. For a total of 4 applications yearly.
A happy medium would be an early spring application of a complete fertilizer such as 16-4-8, an early summer nitrogen only and a late summer complete fertilizer such as 6-6-6, along with incorporating grass clippings into the lawn with a proper mowing and watering care for a healthy, deep green lawn you can be proud of.
Chinch bugs are the major insect problem of St Augustien grass lawns. Fortunately there are chinch bug resistant varieties such as Floratam and Floralawn. Other pests include sod websorm, armyworms, grass loopers, mole crickets,white grubs and nematodes. Remember, high levels of nitrogen fertilizer increase insect infestations.
Brown patch and gray leaf spot are the most common St. Augustine grass lawn diseases. Both diseases can be controlled with fungicides such as copper sulfate applied as a foliar application.
St. Augustine grass can be established by sodding, sprigging and plugs.
St. Augustine grass sod is the most commonly used lawn grass throughout Florida. It is well adapted to warmth and humidity making it and ideal sod candidate for our warm climate with heavy rainfall. Salt tolerant, St. Augustine grass varieties are an ideal choice for an attractive seaside lawn.
There are several Varieties of St. Augustine Grass
Each variety varies slightly on the above characteristics
but still holds the same general tendencies.