How to Grow Strong St. Augustine Grass

Overview

St. Augustine grass is popular in coastal areas because it holds up very well to salt, shade and various soil types. It creates a thick turf with a blue-green color. To grow strong St. Augustine grass, attention needs to be paid to fertilization, watering and pest issues. The plant can be damaged by frost, so don't plant it anywhere with cold winters. Treat St. Augustine grass with herbicides at the appropriate times so pests and weeds won't reduce its growth.

Step 1

Get a fertilizer that has a high nitrogen content. Nitrogen is the element that targets green, healthy foliage, so it will bring out the best color in St. Augustine grass. Fertilizer packaging has three numbers, nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium. Find one with high nitrogen in a slow-release formula.

Step 2

Feed St. Augustine grass right after it turns green in the springtime. Apply the fertilizer between two and six times through autumn. Slow-release food requires fewer applications than water-soluble fertilizer.

Step 3

Spread 1 lb. of slow-release fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of land. If using a water-soluble blend, use 1/2 lb. per 1,000 square feet.

Step 4

Cut St. Augustine grass to help it grow strong. The idea height is 3 1/2 to 4 inches. Cutting it shorter will reduce its ability to handle stress, make the roots grow shallow and invite pest problems. Set the lawn mower to the highest wheel setting.

Step 5

Keep weeds away. Use an herbicide formulated for St. Augustine grass. Control crabgrass with a pre-emergence herbicide in late winter or early spring. The key is to apply it before the grass starts growing again. Use post-emergence herbicides in the summer (before it gets too hot) to control grassy weeds.

Step 6

Apply water only if you notice problems. When St. Augustine grass starts to wilt, it may need more moisture. Apply 1/2 to 3/4 inch of water. Watch it to see if the grass rebounds and don't water again unless it wilts.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never mow more than 1/3 of the grass height at one time. Too much water or nitrogen can cause gray spots or brown patches. Avoid fertilizing too early or too late in the season. This can kill the St. Augustine grass.

Things You'll Need

  • Fertilizer
  • Mower
  • Water
  • Herbicides

References

  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: St. Augustine Grass for Florida Lawns
  • Texas A&M University: St. Augustine Grass
  • LSU Ag Center: Turfgrasses- St.Augustine grass
Keywords: St. Augustine grass, grow St. Augustine, care 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.