St. Augustine grass, or Stenotaphrum secundatum, is a perennial grass that is often planted in pastures and lawns. Because it is a warm-season grass species, St. Augustine grass thrives in hot climates and produces deeper roots to help it stay green and healthy during periods of drought. If you are considering a St. Augustine lawn for your property, review the following 10 facts to learn almost everything you'll need to know about this grass.
1. St. Augustine grass stays the healthiest in areas where cold temperatures are moderated by seacoasts. In the United States, this variety of grass typically grows in regions with mild winter temperatures like Central and Southern California, Texas, the Gulf Coast, Florida and the Carolinas.
2. St. Augustine grass seeds display the fastest growth in temperatures between 80 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature drops, this grass typically goes dormant and turns brown.
3. For ideal growth, St. Augustine grass requires fertilizer that contains a high level of nitrogen. When using a complete turf grade fertilizer, choose one with a 4-1-2 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. A 16-4-8 combination is an example of an appropriate fertilizer for this type of lawn.
4. St. Augustine grass is one of the most popular warm-season grasses in regions with hot, humid climates because it can tolerate higher levels of salt and shade than other varieties of grass.
5. St. Augustine grass is typically planted by sod, plugs or sprigs because it produces very few grass seeds.
6. Once grown, St. Augustine grass develops large bluish-green leaves and flat stems. Its broad leaves and course texture produce a dense turf which allows it to tolerate shade better than other varieties of warm-season grass, such as Bermuda grass.
7. The ideal summertime mowing height of St. Augustine grass is between one and three inches, depending on the amount of shade present and how often you mow. To maintain a shorter height, the lawn should be mowed more frequently to avoid damaging the grass by cutting too much at one time. Keep in mind that heavily fertilized and watered grass often produce thick thatches that may increase the frequency of mowing.
8. In the fall, the mowing height of St. Augustine grass should be about one inch longer than the summertime mowing height. This longer length increases the turf's total leaf area, helping the grass to accumulate enough of an energy reserve to get through the cold months.
9. The growth rate and appearance of St. Augustine grass depends on three main variables: temperature, nutrients and moisture. A change in any one of these variables can alter the lawn's appearance and growth speed. For example, during the spring and fall, nighttime temperatures are cooler which slows down the growth of the grass, but the increase in ground moisture helps it become greener.
10. St. Augustine grass is vulnerable to pests like chinch bugs, grubs and mole crickets, as well as a variety of fungi. There is also a species-specific virus known as St. Augustine Decline, or SAD, that can harm the health of the grass. SAD is a virus that does not respond to chemical control methods, but hardy varieties of this grass are often able to resist this disease.
There are a number of strains of St. Augustine grass available in different geographical regions, so always check with a lawn care professional to learn specific information about the strains of grass available in your area before planting. A professional can get you set up with the right sod, fertilizer and anything else you need to produce a healthy St. Augustine lawn. You can also learn more about St. Augustine grass by visiting a site like https://californiasodcenter.com/.