Often called "carpet grass" in parts of the United States, St. Augustine grass is a fast-growing lawn grass that produces a thick, dark-green turf. While it grows well under a wide range of soil conditions, it is not drought tolerant. Regions that have cool, mild winters provide the best growing areas for St. Augustine grass and some of them are: from Florida to the Carolinas, Central and Southern California, and the area from along the Gulf Coast to Texas.
There are six varieties of St. Augustine grass: Floratine, Bitter Blue, Floratam, Seville, Raleigh, and Texas Common. Floratine and Bitter Blue both grow in the Florida area. Floratine offers a finer texture and a dark-green color, differentiating it from the typical purple-strain often grown in Florida. Alternatively, Bitter Blue offers a coarser-textured lawn. Also developed for growth in Florida, Floratam is a coarse-textured variety that grows longer and wider blades and is resistant to chinch bugs. Like Floratam, Seville is resistant to chinch bugs, but it has a finer texture and grows best in the Gulf Coast region. The Raleigh St. Augustine variety tolerates shade, produces a fine-textured, dense turf, but it is not resistant to chinch bugs. The Texas Cooperative Extension states that Texas Common produces a dense turf and it has also been used to develop a number of dwarf and variegated varieties of St. Augustine.
St. Augustine grass is most commonly used in pastures and as a lawn in coastal areas. It is not tolerant of high traffic.
When planted in coastal areas, St. Augustine grass typically receives adequate moisture without supplemental watering. Inland areas, however, should be monitored closely and often require a watering regimen. In early spring, most St. Augustine lawns should be mowed every 2 weeks. In late spring, it may require mowing every 5 days if it has been fertilized. The cutting height ranges from 1 to 3 inches. In the fall, raise the cutting height by 1 inch to increase the leaf area over the turf. According to the Texas Cooperative Extension, the additional leaf area helps to block weed growth during the dormant season. Nitrogen fertilizer helps St. Augustine grass to maintain its deep color and dense texture. For best results, apply 1 lb. nitrogen fertilizer to every 1,000 square feet, once a month during the growing season.
St. Augustine grass is prone to suffer from a number of fungal diseases. The most common ones are: gray leaf spot, SAD virus, downy mildew, rust, Pythium and Helminthosporium. Proper management and fungicides offer the best defenses against the diseases. Alternatively, grow a variety that is disease resistant if it grows in your area.
The most common pests of St. Augustine grass are the chinch bug, the white grub, armyworms, sod worms, cutworms and ground pearls. As with diseases, proper management and often multiple treatments of insecticides offer the best defense to pest problems.