If you search for some of the low-maintenance turfgrass, chances are St. Augustine will rank high on the list. Though it is easy to grow grass, you might struggle to spread it quickly – if you are not doing things right.
You need to ensure you provide the right soil and environment for it to thrive. St. Augustine is a warm weather grass, so if you live in a coastal area, you are already on the plus side.
However, even if you don’t live by the bays, you can still follow some tricks to boost its growth. Today, we will discuss everything you need to know about the grass and mention some tips to grow your St. Augustine grass quickly.
Preferred Climate, Soil, Growing Season & Growth Rate: Things to Know About St. Augustine Grass
Before jumping into the tips on spreading your St. Augustine grass faster, you need to get some basic idea about the grass type to evaluate its feasibility.
Here, we will talk about the optimal climate, soil type, growing season, and duration so you can match them with your geographical location and see if it ticks the box.
How Does St. Augustine Grass Spread?
St. Augustine is a creeping grass, and unlike Bermuda, it spreads through stolons. Now, what’s that?
Stolon, aka runner, is the slender stem of St. Augustine grass and is similar to creepers that grow horizontally along the ground or a surface. From the stolon, the roots and grass blades grow.
So, to have a good spread, St. Augustine grass needs to grow its root system and first needs to spread the stolon, from where the roots and branches will emerge.
It may seem like a disadvantage, but in reality, this is what makes this grass so hardy and easy to maintain. The stolons make the vegetation independent while helping it get a good grip on the soil.
Best Soil Type for St. Augustine Grass
As mentioned earlier, St. Augustine is a coast-loving grass, so it is a no-brainer that the ideal soil type for it has to be sandy!
St. Augustine grass doesn’t do well in soil with high clay content because these soil types have high compaction levels. So make sure you have a well-drained, well-aerated, sandy, loamy yard.
In terms of soil pH, St. Augustine is quite forgiving. It can thrive in soils with a pH ranging from 5.0 to 8.5, which is moderately alkaline to moderately acidic. But they are more inclined towards acidity, so if you want to spread your turf quickly, keep your yard more acidic than basic.
Best Climate Conditions For St. Augustine Grass
Most gardeners so dearly love St. Augustine grass because of its ability to withstand some of the harshest environments.
Scorching sun, salty breeze, and high humidity are some climatic conditions that might stun the growth of most plants, but not for St. Augustine. It thrives in those climatic conditions and grows well in both full sun and shades.
But St. Augustine grass is not at all resilient in the cold. You can explore other grass options like Zoysia or Bermuda if you live in a country where you experience a frigid climate or a prolonged winter with snowfall.
Maximum Growth Rate
If all needs are met, St. Augustine grass can spread quite rapidly. With the ideal conditions, germination should start after 10 to 14 days of grass seeding.
After that, you can expect them to grow 1 to 2 inches per week during the warmer seasons, and you can expect full coverage of the desired area within one growing season.
When Can You Expect Dormancy In St. Augustine Grass?
As mentioned earlier, St. Augustine does not do very well in the cold, so you will notice dormancy during winter.
As soon as the temperature drops below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, you will notice some dormancy in the grass, and below 10 degrees, it goes into shock.
Frost severely damages this grass, so if it snows in your location, it can completely damage your yard.
6 Ways to Make St. Augustine Grass Spread Quickly
Here are some ways that can help your St. Augustine grass spread quickly.
1. Aerate Your Lawn
Healthy grass comes from healthy roots, so you need to offer enough room for the grassroots to grow to ensure a faster spread of your grass.
For that, you can aerate your lawn from time to time. For those who don’t know, aeration is the process of making holes in the soil to release the compaction. Aeration helps in circulating air and nutrients so the roots can grow healthier.
- You can buy simple garden tools for aeration.
- Or you can take a garden fork and punch holes in the soil.
- If your garden’s soil compaction is very high, we suggest you try the plug-removing method, using a hollow-tine aerator to extract soil plugs.
This method is the best way to aerate highly compacted lawns. It effectively loosens up the soil and leaves zero chance of further clogging.
2. Water it Enough
St. Augustine grass usually doesn’t require heavy watering. If you live in a rainfall-heavy area, you may never need to water your grass. Just make sure that the water is draining properly.
Otherwise, if you live in a rainfall-scarce region, you should water your grass twice a week for 1 ½ inches. If you see your grass getting brittle or gray, it means it is dehydrated and you aren’t watering it enough.
But also watch for signs of overwatering, for example, soggy grass or fungal growth.
3. Use Phosphorus Fertilizers
The best kind of fertilizers for St. Augustine grass are the phosphorus-based ones. This fertilizer type makes your grass grow stronger and ensures a healthier root system, supercharging your turf spread.
Once you achieve the desired spread, you can switch to a nitrogen-based fertilizer to make your grass more lush green and stress-tolerant.
4. Dethatch Your Yard
Thatching is a great way to recycle your garden stocks into natural fertilizers. But too much of it can hinder the spread of your grass.
If you don’t dethatch your lawn occasionally, it can choke your older grass and stop new growth.
On that note, the best way of detaching St. Augustine grass is by hand rake and not by any power tools, as it can damage the stolons. Besides, with power tools, you get very little control, so you might end up damaging the structural integrity of your grass.
In the growth phase, you should have a maximum of half an inch thick thatch layer. Anything more than that can pose the risk of obstructing air circulation. Always wait till the end of the growing season for dethatching to minimize the risk of hindering the growth as much as possible.
5. Mow it Right
Mowing helps your grass spread quicker if you do it right. For a rapidly spreading grass like St. Augustine, you can mow about once a week during the growth season to ensure the grass is more encouraged to spread horizontally.
If you mow infrequently in the growing season, your grass blades will keep getting taller without giving you the desired spread. So, to channel the growth properly, you need to set a mowing height of about 2.5 to 3 inches, which can instigate the spread.
6. Keep the Weeds Under Control
You don’t want to use weed killer or herbicides during your grass’s growing season. So, the best thing you can do is keep a close eye on intrusive weeds and remove them manually.
OR, you can use pre-emergent herbicides while preparing your lawn bed to give your lawn an all-around protection against broadleaf weeds.
Yes. St. Augustine is a hardy grass that grows very easily in coastal regions. However, it can grow anywhere if you provide it with well-drained sandy soil and enough humidity.
St. Augustine grass can grow up to 12 inches tall.
Yes. St. Augustine grass thrives in full sun. This grass is native to coastal regions, so it can actually handle full sun quite well.
Hope this article answers your questions. From the right soil type to smart maintenance practices, we’ve covered the essentials for encouraging rapid spread.
By aerating, watering appropriately, choosing the right fertilizers, managing thatch, mowing strategically, and battling weeds effectively, you can make your St. Augustine grass flourish and expand quickly. Use these techniques, and watch your lawn transform in no time!