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How to Care for St.Augustine Sod Grass

grass image by Brett Bouwer from

St. Augustine grass is native to the Gulf of Mexico and commonly planted in coastal regions. It grows well in many conditions including salt and shade. The only drawbacks of this variety are its inability to handle cold winters and drought. Watering, mowing and fertilizing with a high-nitrogen product are essential in caring for St. Augustine sod grass. With some care and maintenance, the lawn will look lush, green and vibrant for a long time.

Fertilize newly planted St. Augustine sod grass after one month of growth. It needs that much time for the roots to develop and absorb nutrients. If you fertilize before that time, the food will likely travel away from the roots because of nonabsorption.

Apply a fertilizer high in nitrogen. Use 1 lb. per 1,000 square feet monthly. More fertilizer does not mean a greener lawn. Too much nitrogen will invite disease and pests.

Maintain the color and density of St. Augustine sod grass by fertilizing one final time in late fall. This will help the grass survive winter and recover faster in the spring.

Mow established sod grass every two weeks in early spring. If applying nitrogen fertilizer, mow every five days in the spring and summer. Reduce mowing to twice a month in late fall and early winter.

Cut the grass to a height between 1 and 3 inches. If you keep it closer to 3 inches tall, you can get away with mowing every seven to 10 days instead of every five. If your St. Augustine grass is in the shade, mow it 3 inches tall every 10 days.

Monitor rainfall in inland regions. St. Augustine sod grass does not tolerate drought-like conditions. If the soil is dry, set up a sprinkler to water it daily. Keep it moist.

Treat chinch bug, a common St. Augustine pest, if you notice stunted growth or spots of dead grass. Twenty to 30 chinch bugs per square foot can cause damage. Some lawns are infested by hundreds of thousands of these bugs. Apply at least two treatments of insecticides, following the instructions on the label.

Spray St. Augustine sod grass with a hormone-type herbicide if it becomes ridden with weeds. Most healthy lawns will fight the weeds, but they are more susceptible if they are impacted by disease or pests. Apply the weed killer in the early spring if you have clover, chickweed or henbit. Use preemergence herbicide on weeds like crabgrass, bluegrass or fescue. Follow the manufacturer's application directions.


Wear protection such as goggles and gloves when applying weed killers and fertilizer.

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