- Good St. Augustine Grass Seeds & How to Grow Them
- Growing a St. Augustine’s lawn using sods
- Planting a St. Augustine’s lawn from seeds
- How to plant a St. Augustine’s lawn?
- Where and when to plant the St. Augustine seeds?
- Maintaining the lawn
- St Augustine Grass A Deep South Favorite
- Maintenance Tips for St Augustine Grass
- To lawn experts: I planted fescue in my st. augustine lawn and now it looks stupid
- St. Augustine Grass vs. Bermuda: A Texas Dilemma
- Learn about lawns that grow well in Middle Georgia | Macon Telegraph
- Ask Mr. Smarty Plants
Disclaimer | This article may contain affiliate links, this means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for qualifying purchases.
Isn’t a lush green turf just a sight to behold in rains and sunshine alike? Not only do these look and feel absolutely amazing, but these also contribute to the natural process of earth’s restoration by doing their bit at the “grass-root level.”
An elaborate St. Augustine grass lawn could undeniably give you one of the most beautiful turfs. It is very popular in Florida and the Gulf states for its ethereal bluish-green dense beauty!
But as turf breeders would know, growing a St. Augustine could be a daunting task, especially from grass seed.
And, if you’re on the lookout for substantial information on how to get the process of growing St. Augustine just right, then you, my friend, have stumbled upon just the ideal comprehensive read for the purpose!
Simply read on to know more on this subject!
Good St. Augustine Grass Seeds & How to Grow Them
Growing a St. Augustine’s lawn using sods
The St. Augustine’s grass has a considerable tolerance to humidity and heat. The bluish-green blades develop quickly to form plush, dense turfs, and it’s adjustability to significantly saline soils, make it a perfect choice for coastal yards.
One of the easiest ways to get the process of growing a St. Augustine’s lawn done is to plant the plugs from the established turf.
The plugs are the rooted sod pieces, and when you plant them, they grow up to gradually fill in the spaces between them, giving you a full, luxuriant lawn.
Even though you can also buy St. Augustine’s sod, it will be a bit expensive than most other grass sods.
Planting a St. Augustine’s lawn from seeds
It can be considerably difficult to grow a St. Augustine’s lawn from seeds as it’s infamously bad at proliferating this way.
This is one of the primary reasons why we don’t get its seeds for sale that easily in the stores.
This is also why the St. Augustine’s sod farmers usually leave strips of the turf behind for a new St. Augustine’s to grow from instead of completely harvesting the previously.
However, some farmers who do breed and grow St. Augustine grasses for seed during their development and breeding cycles, do so by using “quantities of seed which is often selected and blended,” and planted in these exact quantities to procure a few other new
kinds of grass for different selections.
How to plant a St. Augustine’s lawn?
Estimate your lawn area
Measure the dimensions of your lawn and the kind areas that you want to plant. Purchase as much sod as you would require to fill in that area. Getting a tray of around 18 plugs will be sufficient to cover an area of approximately 32 sq.ft.
Prepare the area for planting
Remove all old sods and weeds using a sod-cutter, if you’re planning to regrow an existing lawn. Apply a “non-selective herbicide” for about 2 weeks before you plant, to kill all weeds and ensure it no residual is left behind to harm the new saplings.
Apply fertilizer and organic soil restorer
Do treat the soil using a natural or organic fertilizer and use a biological restorative agent to nourish it back to health. Since St. Augustine’s require a considerably fertile soil to grow, it’s not a good idea to skip this step. This will also help the sods fill in faster.
Water the area
Make sure to thoroughly water the ground before planting, as it makes the soil more pliable and accommodating to the roots of the plug, providing immediate moisture to them. However, do remember that the water should soak in thoroughly and not stagnate on the surface.
Start by digging the holes in a diagonal planting pattern, so that each group creates a diamond. Space these holes 12 inches apart from each other ( the holes across the center of each diamond should be 15 inches apart). Dig each hole a bit larger, but of the same depth as the plug’s root ball.
Plant the plugs
Push the plug firmly into the hole ensuring that it’s level with the surrounding ground. If you think that the holes are a bit deep, use a little fertile soil to fill in the extra space.
Water the plugs daily until you see them firmly rooted and gradually spreading. It usually takes about 7-14 days for the roots to settle. After this, water every week unless there’s sufficient rainfall to do away with manual watering.
Screen for critters and diseases
A newly planted and gradually establishing St. Augustine’s lawn can fall prey to pests bugs and plant diseases, which can affect both its roots and turf. If you notice mildew or any brown spot beginning to manifest, do contact your local extension agency for treatment options.
Where and when to plant the St. Augustine seeds?
The St. Augustine grass grows and proliferates best in warm springs and summers when temperatures are normally between 80-100 degrees Fahrenheit. It develops full colors at approximately 10 degrees lower than the temperature which discolors and fades Bermuda grass.
It can tolerate some shaded places during hotter summers but can develop thin and spindly turf in densely shaded regions.
The grass can be grown in most soil types as long as it has proper drainage facilities and is fertile. The pH range for growing the St. Augustine grass should preferably fall between 5.0 to 7.5, but at higher levels than that, it could develop a chlorotic appearance.
St. Augustine’s has a tolerance for a salinity level of up to 6 mmhos, unlike the Bermuda grass which has only slight tolerance for high salinity.
If you’re planting the plugs or sods in the full sun, make sure to give it a minimum of 90 days “before your region’s first estimated fall frost” for the grass to develop. Since this grass develops rather quickly, it won’t be necessary to go over frequent checks and estimations.
Maintaining the lawn
When the new lawn begins to fill in, and the blades reach a “mowable” height, cut them with the mower. Make sure that the mower is set at 3-4 inches. Once the leaves start to turn bluish-green, water them regularly and add any organic lawn-food every 6-8 weeks for feeding the grass until they have filled in.
So, this was all about how to grow a beautiful, flourishing St. Augustine’s grass lawn and maintain it thereafter.
Hope you got an insight into the subject.
Thanks for reading. Till next time!
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AnaZ – posted 12 May 2005 08:44
My lawn is in the panhandle of Florida. It is my goal to have just one type of grass, preferably the St. Augustine since it appears to be the one covering the most area.I couldn’t mow it for the last 3 weeks and now I have these sort of sticks everywhere that appear to come from the St. Augustine stolons. About 4~6 inches tall, thick to the touch, with scales like seed pockets.
I’d like to know because if they are seeds for anything else I’ll make sure to bag the clippings when I mow this weekend
tallahassee lassie – posted 12 May 2005 10:22
St Augustine will produce seedheads but the seeds don’t grow. Ever. That said, other weeds do produce seeds that grow, and it can be hard to tell the difference from a mower.
seed – posted 12 May 2005 12:18
Not so fast, tallylassie, St. Augustinegrass seeds have high germination, over 70% in my experience. The principal variety, Floratam, is virtually 100% sterile, doesn’t even produce any seed, while dwarf varieties such as Seville produce abundant seed which is 70% or more viable. I have observed and counted large numbers of emerged St. Augustinegrass seedlings following sod harvest of some varieties (but not Floratam), and the numbers of seedlings are proportional to the seed production per unit area. What makes commercial seed production unprofitable are several factors, such as the difficulty of processing the seeds (the spikelets are embedded in sockets in a corky rachis), their slow “take” in competitive situations, and the fact that any seed produced from a vegetative planting will be all inbred seed, with depressed vigor.
There are horticultural books that say St. Augustinegrass is propagated vegetatively because it produces no seed. Not true.
tallahassee lassie – posted 12 May 2005 12:35
I stand corrected.
br549 – posted 12 May 2005 17:30
Hmmmmmm,I guess I have learned something today.I grow several types of St.Augustine,but have never noticed that happen.I am going to observe my varieties closer to see.Any publications to support this?Thought it all was sterile.I have noticed the seed heads seem to be produced by the healthier grass.Thanks
link2 – posted 12 May 2005 22:04
where can you buy the seeds?
AnaZ – posted 13 May 2005 07:30
Thanks for the fast response. I think I’ll use the bag in the mower this time, just in case. Assuming the sticks I have ARE seeds pockets, I like the theory that seeds come out of healthy grass. In my case the sections with them are very dense. Unfortunately, between the front and back lawn I probably have 2 to 4 different types of turf.
cohiba – posted 13 May 2005 07:35
You southerners have weird grasses!
Larned a new thang………….
ted – posted 13 May 2005 15:41
i guess they don’t have st. augustine in new jersey….
St Augustine Grass A Deep South Favorite
In the deep south, from Florida to central Texas, St Augustine grass is the turf of choice. It is a tropical grass being found in several countries and islands from Africa to Australia.
The southern states in the warm/humid Climate Zone in the U.S. forms the range for this grass. A line from South Carolina to north central Texas marks the northern boundary for this grass. St Augustine grass is not very drought or cold tolerant, so its western range drops off west of Ft. Worth, Texas.
The primary species used in the U.S. is “Stenotaphrum secundatum”. This species is called by its common name of St Augustine. In other countries, it goes by other names. For any Australian readers, the land Down Under calls this grass buffalograss. However, in the U.S., buffalograss is a completely different warm season grass.
St Augustine grass is a coarse textured grass that spreads by stolons. It does not produce any rhizomes. The stolons can grow to be several feet long and root at the nodes. Click here for detailed information on grass stolons and plant structure. Because of the coarse texture, it is rarely used on golf course fairways. It is not a good grass for sports fields because of its low wear tolerance, so its primary use is for home or business lawns.
St Augustine grass can only be started vegetatively, with sod being the primary method. Seeded varieties have been developed, but poor performance led to their demise. It would be great if one day a good St Augustine grass seed was developed.
There are a number of different St Augustine varieties that are available for the public. Breeding is being done to improve the grass and to make a more SAD and chinch bug resistant turf. The chinch bug is very small insect, but a major pest. SAD (St Augustine Decline) is a disease that is caused by a virus. Since there is no cure for a virus, the only hope is to plant a variety that is more resistant to it. The perfect disease and insect free St Augustine grass is still a long way off, but scientist are trying.
Advantages of St Augustine grass
St Augustine grass makes a beautiful light green to dark green turf. It forms a dense turf that grows well in most soils throughout the south. It is used along the coastal ranges because of its good salt tolerance.
St Augustine also has good shade tolerance even under the beautiful live oak trees the south is so famous for. Great shade tolerance is one of the reasons it is preferred over bermudagrass. Bermudagrass has very poor shade tolerance and will only grow a couple feet into moderate to heavy shade.
The easiest way for establishment is by sod. It will give you an instant yard. The roots won’t take hold in the soil for a couple of weeks, so it will need to be watered carefully to keep from drying out. It can also be established from plugs and sprigs. Sprigs are stolons, often called, “runners”. Stolons are above ground stems that grow horizontally. The stolons will sprout and root at the nodes that form every few inches along it’s length. The daughter plants will be a clone of the mother plant. Once the stolon has securely rooted, you can cut the stolon and force the daughter plant to take on the role of a mother plant sending out more stolons. This will decrease the spread time.
St Augustine grass will go dormant when the soil temperatures fall below 55 degrees. If the soil remains warmer than 60 degrees all year, the grass will stay green. It will, however, slow in growth as the soil drops in temperature.
Disadvantages of St Augustine grass
One of the disadvantages of St Augustine grass is its poor wear tolerance. It will hold up well under to normal traffic of a home lawn, but not under the heavy traffic of an athletic field. The coarse texture makes it unsuitable for golf courses and is only used in a few places. Even many homeowners don’t care for the coarse texture and would prefer a finer bladed grass instead.
St Augustine also has poor drought tolerance and will not always hold its color without irrigation. This is one of the reasons why its range ends west of Ft. Worth, TX where the climate becomes drier. The northern range of St Augustine grass ends north of Dallas, TX and in South Carolina on the east coast. It is very susceptible to winter damage much farther north. Even within the northern sections of its range, bad winters could cause damage. Micro-climates can affect growth habits in the northern parts.
SAD (St Augustine Decline) and chinch bugs can be a severe pest.
Maintenance and Lawn Care Tips
Maintenance Tips for St Augustine Grass
I often get questions about St Augustine Grass runners growing on the grass surface or sticking up in the air. The runners may be several feet long and not pinned to the soil. This is called “Looping”.
There is no single reason or solution. Here are a few possible reasons for looping. Although I do travel to Southeast Texas to examine St Augustine, I have not studied in depth or verified these causes or solutions because of limited access. These are possible causes that were submitted to me by turf managers.
- Mowing too low for your variety
- Pre-emergent applied too heavily in the spring
- May be a temporary problem in late spring or mid to late summer that corrects itself
- Soil Nitrogen or nutrient deficiency
If the problem doesn’t go away you may need to verticut the lawn. Care must be taken because St Augustine spreads by above ground stems and the dethatching may remove too many healthy stems, especially if they are not rooted.
The least expensive method of irrigation is to water whenever the grass needs it. Water deeply to wet the soil to a depth of 3 or 4 inches. This promotes deeper root growth and helps the grass survive longer without water during periods of drought. The grass will tell you when it is time to water again. When the grass begins to turn a bluish green color, it is time to water deeply again. Another way to tell is by walking across the lawn and then checking to see if your footprints are not immediately going away. If the grass does not spring back up, then it is time to water. Avoid watering at night, but instead, water in the morning hours so the soil surface has time to dry before evening. Damp grass and soil is a condition necessary for certain diseases to take off.
Most varieties do well at 3 to 4 inches. If you haven’t planted yet and know you would prefer a lower cut, you can always try a dwarf species. The variety Amerishade is an example of a dwarf variety and can handle 1.5 to 2 inches mowing height. A very level surface is required to keep from scalping the grass. Note however, that some dwarf varieties are more prone to thatch, winter damage and insect problems.
It is always best to check with your local extension office to see which varieties are best in your location.
Sharp blades are essential for a clean cut. Dull blades will shred the grass and may give a light brown appearance to the grass.
Sodding is the most expensive, but the fastest way to get an instant yard. Many companies specialize in this work or you can do it yourself. Proper soil and grading preparation is necessary to ensure a good surface. Without a smooth surface, the mower will cut highs and lows. I have seen a lot of scalped yards because of poor preparation.
Since the roots are not anchored into the soil for few weeks, it is necessary to water everyday to keep the grass from drying out. Don’t water heavily, you don’t want to water log the soil. Don’t mow until the grass has sufficient root and is anchored to the soil or it may lift and be cut by the mower blades.
Plugging and sprigging are other ways of planting St Augustine grass. Plugging is planting grass squares while sprigging is planting the grass stolons. The plugs should be place from 6 to 12 inches apart. St Augustine grass can be plugged at 24 inches apart, but will take longer to fill in. If using stolons, the stolons must be covered over with a thin layer of dirt except for the grass blades. This encourages rooting. It is extra work, but will give better results. Some people just scatter the stolons, but that is leaving a lot to chance that they will root and grow.
There was a time when St Augustine grass seed was being made available in limited quanities. However, the seed performed poorly and is no longer available. As it stands now, no seed is available for St Augustine grass. Maybe some day it will.
St Augustine grass requires approximately 4 to 5 lbs nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. per year. If the grass is being started with plug or with stolons, apply 1 lb nitrogen per 1000 sq. ft. each month during the growing season. This will promote the fastest growth and spread. Established grass only needs 4 to 5 lbs per year. Over-fertilization of mature turf only encourages thatch, insect and disease problems.
Fertilization can be confusing for many people. To maintain a proper fertility program, it is important to know how much nitrogen is being delivered. We have made it easy to understand. Click on the link to learn more about lawn fertilization.
St Augustine grass is one of several grasses that can create thatch. Over-fertilization is one of the biggest culprits in thatch build up. Soil pH problems can be another. Thatch is acidic, so if needed, an application of agricultural limestone will help prevent the development of thatch and reduce soil acidity. A soil test will tell you what your soil pH is. A third reason for thatch development is excessive watering. Daily water, regardless of whether it needs it or not can contribute to thatch.
Thatch is not soil, but an organic layer that develops between the soil and grass vegetation. It primarily consists of shed roots, stems and other grass debris. Grass completely sheds its root system twice a year, one root at a time. It grows new roots to replace the old ones. Thatch can be a barrier that prevents water and nutrients from reaching the roots. The roots can’t tell the difference between soil and thatch, so the new roots will frequently grow through the thatch. The grass suffers because thatch dries out much faster than soil and the new roots quickly die. If the thatch completely dries out, it can crust over becoming “hydrophobic”. Water will not penetrate through hydrophobic thatch, but instead, will pool on the surface. Fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides have difficulty penetrating the thatch and become trapped in it. Tests have shown that almost 100% of insecticides become trapped in heavy thatch. This could also prevent insecticides from controlling the target insects.
Core aeration opens up the soil allowing water and air to reach the root zone. You should leave the cores on the grass to break down naturally. As the cores break down, they feed the soil micro-organisms.
Top dressing is the process of scattering a thin layer of organic matter over the surface of the grass. A thin layer of quality organic matter will feed the beneficial micro-organisms that, in turn, feed on the thatch. If needed, vertical mowing or dethatching machines, can be rented to tear out the thatch.
St Augustine Grass Insect and Disease Problems
Insects That Damage St. Augustine Grass
The major pest of St Augustine grass is the chinch bug. This is a tiny insect that pierces through the grass with needle-like mouth parts and sucks out the juices. Chinch bug saliva is toxic to the grass and will only accelerate the damage. Damage will usually show up as the weather warms up in spring. It will look similar to drought stress in the beginning stages.
A standard method is checking for chinch bugs is by cutting out the ends of a large coffee can. Press the can into the ground on the edge of the damaged area. Fill the can with water and watch for the chinch bugs to float to the top. They will be the size of an ant. The can will lose water quickly as it absorbs into the ground, so make sure the water is always above the grass line inside the can. It make take a few minutes to see the bugs float up. Insecticides are available for controlling this pest, but some have developed resistance to certain insecticides.
Other insects pests include sod webworms, cutworms, grub worms and mole crickets. Grass hoppers can also be a problem in summer months.
A good biological control for white grubs, sod webworms and cut worms is the microbial insecticide called “Baccilus Thuringensis”. Once consumed by the insects, it kills by producing toxins within their gut. Mach 2 is another biological control for insects that pupate. The active ingredient is “Halofenozide” and kills the target insects by interrupting the pupation stage of larvae without harming beneficial insects. This product needs to be applied well in advance of any damage. It will have no effect of applied at the time insects are damaging your lawn.
Quick kill products include trichlorofon (dylox) and carbaryl (sevin). Be aware that thatch can hinder the movement of insecticides to the root zone where grubs live. Always follow the label directions and wear all required personal protection equipment and clothing.
Some pest controls, including some biological controls, are available only to certified pesticide applicators. Many commercial applicators will apply what you need without selling you a whole program. Check with companies in your area to see.
Diseases Common to St. Augustine Grass
Brown patch, take all root rot, and grey leaf spot are all problems of St Augustine grass in wet, humid, summer weather. The Bayleton fungicide, as well as others, are labeled for many diseases that effect St Augustine.
Take all root rot is a problem of wet soil, most prevalent during the planting stage, but can also occur in established grass. With this disease, as the name sounds, the roots rot and the plant dies. Good, well drained soil is necessary for planting and growing. Make sure you don’t over water during the planting stage so the soil becomes waterlogged.
Grey leaf spot is mostly a problem with young plants in humid, wet conditions. Fungicides are available for all these diseases.
Brown patch is a disease in hot, humid weather. It begins as a 1 foot patch and can enlarge to several feet in diameter. The lesions that appear on the grass became tan in appearance as the grass tissue dries out. A sign of brown patch is the webby mycelium that appears on the grass on damp mornings. Avoid applications of nitrogen fertilizer and well as weed control when this disease is present. Nitrogen will only feed the fungus. As humidity decreases and weather dries out, the disease subsides and the grass usually recovers. As long as the grass crown is not affected, the grass will grow out of it. If you live in a section of the country where high humidity is the rule and not the exception, fungicides like Daconil are available to help control brown patch. Fungicides must be applied in the early stages of disease development for best results.
Important Note About Insecticides and Fungicides
Always read the label carefully before using any product and preferably before purchasing. If you know of a product you are considering, you can find the product label online. It will give you all the information you need to know before use, what personal protection clothing you need and if it is safe around pets or children or how long they need to stay off the lawn. Just type into the browser the product and include the word “label”.
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St Augustine Grass back to Lawn Care Academy Home
shirl – posted 15 March 2004 15:36
One lawn care company recommended overseeding the bare areas in our St. Augustine lawn with Bermuda seed during this time of year. The St. Augustine grass really struggles to survive – especially during the full sun it receives in this TX heat. Any thoughts about that recommendation – and how to go about doing it successfully?
Yellow – posted 15 March 2004 16:12
If you want St. Augustine lawn with Bermuda then go for it. If you want nothing but ST Aug try fertlizer right now or cornmeal. Keep it watered only when it needs it and it should grow in. You can go to Home depot and by squares of sod for 97 cents, dig out the brown and fill in with new sod. Depending on how much you need it should be cheap.
Dchall_San_Antonio – posted 15 March 2004 23:30
Bermuda and St Augustine don’t look good together at all. I’d give that lawn care company about a zero on the credibility scale.
What part of Texas do you live in? St Augustine is dormant this time of year, and most of Texas hasn’t had any heat for six months.
shirl – posted 16 March 2004 08:25
Thanks for the input. We live in Austin, TX & our St. Augustine grass is still dormant. However last year – during the summer & fall, we ended up with several brown/dead grass areas & was told it was a number of things (from brown patch, to chinch bugs, etc..). One lawn care company suggested scraping the dead areas out, & said the St. Augustine grass would grow back. Another company said to just leave it – it would grow back next spring. This company we have now said that it won’t grow back in those areas, just overseed with Bermuda grass since it endures hot sun better than St. Augustine. So I’m at wits end about what to do.
I just had the lawn aerated, & it has been treated this year with a pre emergent & fertilizer. So I’m looking for suggestions on Next Steps – what to do to ensure a healthier lawn this season, & what to do about the bare areas (created last season), with little or no grass in them.
Dchall_San_Antonio – posted 17 March 2004 23:20
I guess I could have read the subject to find out where you were in Texas
Those guys are nuts. You had one or two problems. You could have had bugs and/or disease and that about covers it. Bugs are dealt with one way and fungus another, but both are easy and should not require reseeding or resodding. Certainly the addition of bermuda should NEVER be considered a solution to a St Augustine problem.
Since you’re using a lawn care company, you are very likely to get whatever they are putting down every month. If they cannot manage the pests and keep your lawn green, you need to look for a different lawn care company.
Alex_in_FL – posted 19 March 2004 19:41
Agree with Dchall_San_Antonio on all points except his rating of the lawn care company as zero. That was far to generous!!!
St A/Bermuda lawns look like heck. Get some St A. and fill in the areas, forget the bermuda over seeding.
Mouse – posted 19 March 2004 20:47
Hey, I’m in Dallas.
A friend of mine has a mix of Bermuda and St A. When his pool was put in, the contruction company decided to repair the bald spots they left in his st. a with bermuda.
He doesn’t mind it. I think it’s a terrible eye sore. From a GOOD distance, you really can’t tell.
shirl – posted 21 March 2004 09:15
Thanks everyone for your input. If I a add in St. Augustine – is this a good time of year to do that?
Giga – posted 30 March 2004 08:18
This may sound crazy but it works.
If you have brown spots in your St. Augustine grass, follow this procedure.
When the ground and is dry, rake the brown areas to rid the area of the excess. Thenmix a water solution with tide soap power or some type dish detergent and pour on those brown lawn spots and watch the new green growth.
Old southern plantation remedy.
shirl – posted 30 March 2004 15:55
Thank’s Giga for the “southern remedy” – I’m going to try it. How much soap do I use in the water – what part soap to water? Plus should I just apply the mixture once – or do it several times?
MaryR – posted 02 April 2009 18:54
My husband and I are a small business for lawn care and landscaping here in Austin. We have noticed alot of this problem here with the St. Augustine grass. We have found a supplier that has GREAT sod and we have been reapairing alot of yards. We have been cutting out the dead areas and replacing with new sod and this has been working really well. If you would like the name and number for this guy that sells great sod contact me at [email protected] He is located North Austin right before Pfluggerville. Thanks and good luck to you.
To lawn experts: I planted fescue in my st. augustine lawn and now it looks stupid
Do nothing. If youre in southern california then st augustine is much better suited to your yard than fescue. Most fescues are cool season grasses and while they will probably survive in your yard they will be outcompeted by your augustine. Instead of further mucking up your hard with chemicals my advice is to try and determine why your augustine is not covering your yard (it spreads fairly rapidly and does well in the heat so your yard should be paradise).
Is the bare spot under trees? Augustine needs light and prefers sun to shade. Is it high traffic? Augustine will need to be established. Is there something altering the Ph of the soil? Maybe its under a pine tree or some other plant that is dropping leaves on the ground and altering the Ph? A quick soil test will tell you if you need to add an amendment. Does that part of your yard sit in water? not get enough water? You can test all these things and rule them out if you want.
If you dont want to then heres the best solution: do nothing. The fescue will MOST LIKELY (I cant promise this but I would bet on it) create favourable enough conditions where you planted it that the Augustine can move in. (seriously, you dont even have to test everything bc it doesnt matter) If I had a yard that I wanted to be completely Augustine (I prefer Bermuda, but to each his own) I would do exactly what you did in order to let the Augustine fill in the spots. Your fescue will hold the water/soil, contribute to soil nutrients (is thats whats holding the Augustine back? who knows), hold down the soil temperature (bare soil with direct sun is a desert, newborn plants hate that shit), etc. In essence what you have planted is called a “nurse plant” and it will create a friendlier environment. It will probably take a year (this isnt Augustine’s time, youre looking for late spring/ summer) for the Augustine to finally get over there and start kicking the fescue’s butt but in the meantime that fescue is doing nothing but good for your yard.
tldr: Do nothing! Let the fescue work her magic and the Augustine will creep over to see what all the fuss is about and decide to stay when he gets ready. Get some tea and watch the drama unfold.
A battle’s brewing and it has to do with lawn care. If you’re uncertain which grass to root for, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of both contenders will help you make an informed decision between St. Augustine grass and Bermuda for your lawn.
St. Augustine Grass vs. Bermuda: A Texas Dilemma
Many factors go into this decision-making process, such as how much maintenance the grass requires, the climate you live in, whether or not your yard provides any shade and how much traffic the area will have to tolerate. St. Augustine grass needs a warm climate and plenty of water to flourish, while Bermuda grass requires almost no water when dormant in early fall or during drought-like conditions. There are pros and cons to each type, but knowing about each grass’s characteristics will help you determine which will do better in your outdoor spaces.
Let’s start off with the most important element for plant life: water. Bermuda grass wins this round, if you are looking for a type of grass with lower water requirements. Patrick Dickinson, the Urban Water Program Coordinator at Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center, suggests St. Augustine will lose this category of the turf wars, because it greedily slurps up twice the amount of water as Bermuda grass. There are many factors to consider when choosing the type of grass that works best for your home, but water can be the most important if you’re wanting to conserve water or save money on your monthly water bill. Consider your city’s watering schedule and think about whether or not you’ll have the time to maintain a regular watering schedule for your yard.
While neither grass thrives when the temperature drops below 60 degrees Farenheit, St. Augustine grass does have a higher weather tolerance than Bermuda, but stressed St. Augustine becomes more vulnerable to pests and disease.
The good thing about Bermuda grass in this particular situation is that it requires almost no water during dormant months and does better than St. Augustine grass in fending off pests and lawn diseases.
When it comes to establishing your lawn, the St. Augustine versus Bermuda grass showdown depends on personal preference. You can easily establish a Bermuda lawn from seed; for a St. Augustine lawn, you’re better off laying sod.
While Bermuda seeds are less expensive, St. Augustine sod gives you more instant gratification. The maintenance for St. Augustine grass is high and requires regular mowing, fertilization and irrigation, while Bermuda grass requires less maintenance and can grow thicker with more frequent mowing and irrigation.
Once it’s established, Bermuda grass grows aggressively. It will require frequent trimming along driveways, sidewalks and gardens to prevent expanding beyond its own terrain. The maintenance for this grass type is considered to be moderate, but be aware that the more frequently this grass is mowed and watered, the thicker it gets.
St. Augustine has low phosphorus requirements and requires the same amount of potassium as other grasses. While excessive nitrogen causes thatch problems, fertilizing with nitrogen every month or two will help St. Augustine survive winter and bounce back in spring. St. Augustine grass does suffer without sufficient iron in the soil, so it might require amendments containing iron chelate or iron sulfate.
For a consistently beautiful lawn, Bermuda grass has higher fertilization requirements than St. Augustine. This type of grass needs more nitrogen, but Bermuda grass may need fewer of other elements, according to the strain of Bermuda grass, the turf use and the desired appearance.
Sun or Shade
The amount of sun falling on your lawn determines the winner of this round: St. Augustine handles shade very well and Bermuda grass thrives in constant sun but doesn’t grow well in shade.
In the traffic round of the showdown, the winner is determined by how resilient the grass is to human activity. Bermuda grass survives wonderfully when trampled and played on, while St. Augustine, on the other hand, has low tolerance for traffic.
Call an Expert in Lawn Care
Given the southern climate, water requirements may guide your decision on which grass to use in your yard, but that is not the only consideration. How will your lawn be used? How much sun or shade do you have? How do you feel about fertilizing? Is the grass really greener on the other side of the fence? Okay, you can scrap the last question, but if you’re looking for answers to the rest, contact our lawn care experts. In this battle, the only side we’re going to take is yours. We’ll schedule a consultation, evaluate your family’s needs and create a lawn care plan that works best for you. Get in touch today.
Learn about lawns that grow well in Middle Georgia | Macon Telegraph
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As promised in last week’s column, here is some advice about lawns that work well in Middle Georgia.
▪ Bermuda is a full-sun lawn turf. Avoid using common bermuda. Try Tifway, which is neater.
▪ Zoyzia is dark green in color and has some shade tolerance. Take a look at Zenith.
▪ Centipede is probably the most used lawn turf in the Middle Georgia area. It likes full sun to part shade, and is low maintenance. Take a look at new varieties like TifBlair, which is drought tolerant with low fertility requirements.
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▪ St. Augustine is the most shade tolerant of the lawns in our area. This grass is a little coarse in texture, but it is an easy-care, Southern, shade lawn.
▪ Fescue is deep green, fine textured and makes a very beautiful lawn — if you live north of Atlanta. It just doesn’t perform well here with our hot summers. Regrettably, fescue is a waste of money in Middle Georgia.
Here are more tips and advice for the garden this week.
▪ What’s blooming: Cherry “Okame,” lenten rose, hyacinths, bradford pear, daffodil, lorepetalum, saucer magnolia, forsythia and azalea.
▪ Here’s an easy way to display daffodils. Cut daffodil flowers with long stems. Tie string, raffia or thin ribbon around the middle of the stems and place them in a vase. The more the merrier.
▪ It is still too early for annuals, but hardy perennials can be planted now.
▪ Last call to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to lawns. Use a weed and feed for existing weeds in about a month. Get more information about this at FernValley.com.
▪ When do you prune lantana? Not yet! Wait for the new growth to show at the base of the plant.
▪ Apply fertilizer to roses now as they begin to break dormancy. It’s too late to cut back “Knockout” roses without delaying the start of flowering.
▪ Hybrid roses are showing up in nurseries now. They make for great flowers, but are more work!
▪ Time to get out the mower. Use a low setting on the lawn mower with the catcher for the first cut of the season. This will remove dead grass from last fall, and pick up any other debris.
Todd Goulding provides residential landscape design consultations. Contact him at fernvalley.com or 478-345-0719.
rsp2001 – posted 18 August 2003 12:15
We are in South Florida and have a 50 yr old St. Augustine yard. Unfortunately a 6 ft round patch of Bermuda grass last year is now almost half of our back yard! The patch is maybe 75 ft wide and 20 ft deep. We have a lot of shade in the yard – tall pines and a tall back hedge. We don’t cut the grass short. We tried weed & feed back in March and again in May. Now we’re considering digging up the yard and resodding but we’d prefer to get rid of it chemically. What will kill the Bermuda but not the St. Augustine?
Jaz – posted 19 August 2003 15:48
Try getting a small paint brush and a small can of round up and painting the bermuda leaves. Be carefull not to get any on your st. augustine grass. It is a tedious job but it has worked for me.
Dchall_San_Antonio – posted 21 August 2003 00:23
Are you saying that you have your mower set to the highest setting and the bermuda is choking out the St Aug?????
Are you on sand? probably.
How often do you water?
rsp2001 – posted 21 August 2003 09:23
HiThanks for your replies. Not sure my knees are up to painting all that Bermuda grass!
DSchall-We’re on sand and our sprinklers are running every night in 15 minutes cycles. There are 2 zones for that area. And we’ve had quite a lot of rain in the past few weeks. It dries up in a couple of months and the Bermuda turned brown last year.
Dchall_San_Antonio – posted 21 August 2003 12:55
I realize you are on sand, but can you try changing the way you water?
You have grass that is addicted to frequent watering. You have no drought resistance at all. Again, I realize you have sand, but maybe if you start doing things differently you can develop significant amounts of organic matter in your sand to retain the water much longer.
If you stopped watering, how long would the St Aug go before looking wilted? I don’t care about the bermuda, only the St Aug. I’m going to suggest you turn off your automatic waterer (bane of mankind) and go to visual observations to determine when to water. I’m going to suggest that you watch every afternoon and wait for wilting. When it looks wilty, don’t water yet. The next morning look and see if it is still wilty in the morning dew. If the dew revived it, GREAT! If not water right away in the morning. Water for about an hour to ensure the sand is saturated as deeply as it can be. Then watch again to see how long the St Aug goes before looking wilty. Repeat the drill about the dew and wilt before watering again for an hour in the morning. It may be the next day or a couple days later before wilting again. What you are trying to do is stretch out the watering so that you don’t have to water every day to keep the St Aug alive.
The deep watering will develop deep roots that can absorb water from much greater depths. Eventually you should be able to go without watering at all for a week. The sand may dry out completely in the top inch but the grass looks great for several more days. I’m there right now on about a 10 day schedule.
The deep roots and deep watering will also allow organic microbes to live deeper in your soil/sand and those guys will build your sand into soil for you.
One thing you can do to really help build the sand into soil is start using organic fertilizers. I’m not suggesting the expensive ones, I’m going to suggest alfalfa pellets or corn meal. Apply either or both at 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet of area. You can get these products at feed stores for $6 for 50 pounds. These fertilizers feed the soil microbes and allow them to thrive. If you use any chemical ferts, you will be stuck with no life in your soil and the same “perfect drainage” you have now.
Jaz – posted 21 August 2003 15:37
Dchall,I had the Bermuda weed. I live in Texas and seems this Bermuda weed is every where. My Father could not get rid of this stuff and it eventully took over the St. Augustine. My father always mowed his grass with the highest setting on his mower. With this weed mowing high does not do a bit of good. It seems like this stuff just grows like crazy no matter what you do.
rsp2001 – posted 21 August 2003 15:47
whoops! didn’t see your earlier reply and thought my reply hadn’t shown up yet.
We didn’t irrigate for about four months as our sprinkler system was down and we didn’t want to fix it til after rainy season. But then rainy season started late so ended up fixing it. We are on a well for the sprinkler so we’re not using up the local fresh drinking supply. The well water is extremely smelly and rusty. The Bermuda thrived during our self imposed drought. That’s when it did its extreme expansion. We have about two inches of ‘soil’ before you hit pure sand. It probably needs some fertilizing or other help. I’ll try the pellets idea.
Dchall_San_Antonio – posted 25 August 2003 09:42
Jaz,For that lawn that was taken over by bermuda, did it get much water or only rainwater. Because St Aug will die out never to return from a drought. Bermuda just goes dormant and will return.
Todd_Cibolo – posted 25 August 2003 11:15
I would very much like to talk to you about this subject (Bermuda taking over St. Augustine). I’ve been fighting this for years and am losing rather quickly here lately. I’ve checked with Bexar Extension Service as well as A&M Extension and I am down to sending off a soil sample to find out what my problem is. I am debating on putting down all new sod next spring and starting over. E-mail me at [email protected] if your willing to talk to me about this.
Gator – posted 26 August 2003 09:56
here in fla…we use to have a chemical called asulox(asulum)it wuld clean up bermuda in st augustine…does anyone know if this chemical is still available????
Jaz – posted 26 August 2003 11:45
That lawn was very well taken care of. My father takes a lot of pride in his yard and waters on a regular basis. I always look at lawns now and notice it is very common to see the bermuda weed taking over the St. Augustine lawns. The Scotts Bonus S weed and feed is suppose to kill bermuda but this stuff seems to thrive on it. This bermuda looks like the grass you see all over the highways, or the sides of roads down here in Texas.
rsp2001 – posted 26 August 2003 14:14
Thanks Gator and Everyone ElseI looked up Asulox. Haven’t found a place to buy it though. We may just end up resodding when our neighbor does.
jr – posted 26 August 2003 18:49
the manufacturer changed the label on asulox in 99 from turf and ornamental to sod farms and golf course only. therefore, it is no longer available (legally) to the home owner or pest control operators. there’s still some properly labeled asulox floating around out there though. i still have 2 gallons of it myself, but if you find anybody with it you are going to pay dearly for it.
Ask Mr. Smarty Plants
At the top of the list of illegal plants for Texas is marijuana, (Cannabis sativa). Possession of any amount of this plant, processed or still growing, is punishable by a hefty fine and/or jail sentence–the larger the amount in possession, the greater the punishment! Texas law also lists thirteen illegal aquatic plants that carry a legal penalty for possession. You can download a PDF file aboutinvasive species of Texasand see a list of plant species, as well as animal species, considered by the Union of Concerned Scientists to be invasives. These aren’t all necessarily illegal but should be discouraged from cultivation.
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