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How to Prepare the Lawn for St. Augustine Grass Sod

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How to Prepare the Lawn for St. Augustine Grass Sod

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Overview

St. Augustine grass is commonly planted in the Gulf Coast region as well as in Mexico, Africa, South America, and in the Caribbean and Hawaiian islands. It is a tropical species that thrives in hot climates. St. Augustine grass also does well in lagoons and swamps along beaches and marshes. While the grass can live in a variety of soil types, it doesn't grow well in droughts or waterlogged areas. When planting St. Augustine sod, preparing the site is the most important task. If the soil is good, the grass has a much better chance of thriving.

Step 1

Test the soil for its pH. Test kits are available at nurseries or at your local cooperative extension office. St Augustine grass grows well in a pH range of 5.0 to 8.5, but once the soil gets above 7.5, it tends to change in appearance. St. Augustine grass is sensitive to iron deficiency, so if you have alkaline soil, apply iron sulfate or iron chelate. Follow the instructions provided by your nursery or extension professional.

Step 2

Remove debris, such as stones, roots and weeds, from the planting site. Use a rototiller over the area to loosen the top 6 to 12 inches of soil. This will help the sod root.

Step 3

Make sure the lawn is at the level you want. If planting the St. Augustine grass sod right up to your house, add soil to make the ground higher next to the foundation. Sloping it down as it gets farther from your house will help with drainage.

Step 4

Apply a fertilizer with a strong potassium content. St. Augustine grass has better root growth, spreads faster and is more tolerant to drought and cold when it's treated with potassium. Apply according to the label instructions and water until moist so the food can penetrate the soil.

Step 5

Grade the area before planting the sod. Use a rake to make sure it is level and smooth. The final grade should be lower than the surrounding seeded lawn. This way, the sod will be flush with sidewalks, driveways and sprinklers.

Step 6

Plant St. Augustine grass sod as soon as it's delivered. If that's not possible, keep it in a cool, shady area. Spray it frequently with a hose to keep it moist.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid watering the grass in the evening because of the risk of fungal diseases. Stay off the sod until the grass is established.

Things You'll Need

  • pH test kit
  • Ion sulfate or iron chelate
  • Rototiller
  • Soil
  • Fertilizer
  • Water
  • Blade
  • Water
  • Rake

References

  • Texas A&M University: Turfgrass Establishment
  • Yardcare.com: Building a Lawn
  • Blades Lawn Care: Soil Preparation for St. Augustine Sod
  • Texas Cooperative Extension: St. Augustine Grass
Keywords: plant sod, St. Augustine grass, prepare for grass

About this Author

Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than 10 years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.