St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is the most widely planted grass in the state of Florida and is also well-used throughout the south. This coarse grass stands up well to heat and humidity and may be kept long (up to 3 inches) during the warmest summer months. St. Augustine grass is a fast-spreading, deep green grass that is best planted from sod, plugs or stolons. This grass may be invasive and is susceptible to some insects. Well-maintained St. Augustine grass grows tightly and crowds out weeds.
St. Augustine grass spreads quickly on above-ground runners and may become invasive. Runners, which develop at the root joints, may creep into gardens or other non-grass areas and require constant attention. Because these runners grow on the surface, they are easily removed and may be picked off.
Like many warm-weather grasses, St. Augustine grass may be damaged by chinch bugs, which feed on the stems at the base of the leaf. Chinch bugs are active year-round in Florida and spring to fall in many other states. Small, open spots in the lawn may be the first sign of an infestation, and these spots will grow to larger dead spots. Spray-on insecticide will help to manage an infestation.
White grubs, which feed on the underground roots of St. Augustine grass, are another potential problem. These insects are the larvae of the May beetle and June bug and will develop in the summer or fall. Damage from white grub may not be immediately apparent; rather, during the next growing season, dead spots will occur. To control an infestation, drench the ground with an insecticide.
Turf Grass Diseases
St. Augustine grass is susceptible to several turf grass diseases, including downy mildew, gray leaf spot and rust. In general, these fungi will not kill the lawn, but may weaken and thin the grass. Most diseases are fungal and may be controlled with an application of fungicide specific to the disease.