How to Care for Brown Floratam Grass


Brown floratam grass (stenotaphrum secundatum) is a turf grass used primarily in sub-tropical areas of the United States. Also called St. Augustine grass, the grass thrives in high temperatures but is not particularly hardy. The grass will not tolerate drought or cold temperatures, nor does it like overly soggy soil. Brown floratam grass prefers rich, well-draining, organic, slightly sandy soil and is a good choice for moist but warm coastal climates. It is the most commonly used lawn grass in Florida, according to the master gardeners at the University of Florida.

Step 1

Plant brown floratam grass in late fall when the weather is cooler. This will give the grass a chance to become established during the mild winter and before the heat of spring and summer arrives. You can choose between planting seeds or laying sod. If you lay sod, you need to make sure it stays constantly moist for two to three weeks or until the roots attach to the soil. If you sow seeds, you need to prepare the soil by removing large rocks and debris, adding organic materials, sand or peat moss if the soil is hard, and laying down fertilizer to aid in the germination of the seeds. As with sod, keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate, or sprout.

Step 2

Water newly planted grass every day for five minutes at a time, three times a day. Do this for one week, then cut back the waterings to once every two days (for 10 minutes at a time) until the roots are established. Brown floratam grass is usually established after two or three weeks. Then water only when needed. The grass will show signs of needing water when the blades wilt and do not spring back after being walked on.

Step 3

Mow the grass for the first time when the blades are about 4 inches tall. Use a mower that has sharp blades so the grass is cut cleanly rather than torn. Brown floratam grass should be cut at a height of 3 1/2 to 4 inches.

Step 4

Fertilize the lawn each spring after it begins to grow again. This grass will go dormant in the winter and begin to grow again in early spring. Once new growth appears, wait two weeks, then apply a slow-release, water-soluble fertilizer high in nitrogen (15-0-15) to the grass. Continue to fertilize about every four weeks from spring until the middle of fall. Use 1 lb. of fertilizer for every 1,000 square feet of grass.

Things You'll Need

  • Lawn mower
  • Watering tool
  • High-nitrogen (15-0-15), slow-release fertilizer


  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Florida

Who Can Help

  • Texas A&M University: Weed Control in St. Augustine Grass
Keywords: stenotaphrum secundatum, St. Augustine grass, brown floratam, care for brown floratam grass

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.