The Ultimate Guide to St. Augustine Grass Care: Tips for a Lush and Healthy Lawn

St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is a popular warm-season turf grass known for its thick carpeted appearance and shade tolerance. It is widely grown in lawns across the southern United States, particularly in Texas and Florida. This high-maintenance grass has a dense carpet-like sod, broadleaf blades, and a vibrant green color that adds beauty to any landscape. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the essential aspects of St. Augustine grass care, including watering, mowing, fertilizing, disease control, pest control, weed control, and more.

St. Augustine Grass at a Glance

St. Augustine grass, also known as buffalo grass in Australia, is a perennial grass that thrives in full sun and partial shade. It is adaptable to coastal regions due to its tolerance to salt and can withstand moderate foot traffic.

This grass variety does not have rhizomes like some other grasses but instead grows through roots, stolons (runners), and broad flat blades. Ecolawn Florida understands the unique needs of St. Augustine grass, emphasizing its roots, stolons, and distinct characteristics.

Watering Requirements

Proper watering is crucial for the health and vitality of St. Augustine grass. Ecolawn Florida recommends providing about 1 inch of water per week, adjusting for rainfall. If your lawn isn’t receiving enough water from rainfall, it is recommended to water your St. Augustine grass twice a week.

However, it is important to water deeply to encourage deep root growth rather than frequent shallow watering. Sandy soils and clay-heavy soils have different water-holding capacities, so adjusting your watering schedule accordingly is necessary.

To determine if your lawn needs watering, a simple test is to walk on the grass. If the blades spring back into place after stepping on them, your grass is hydrated and healthy. On the other hand, if the blades are curling or turning a dull color, it’s time to water.

The best time to water your lawn is in the early morning, preferably between sunrise and 10 a.m. This allows the water to saturate the ground before the sun and wind can evaporate it. Ecolawn Florida discourages evening watering as it can lead to rot, lawn fungus infections, and harmful pests.

See Also: Best Watering Practices for Bermuda and St Augustine Grass


Ecolawn Florida prioritizes proper mowing to maintain the health of St. Augustine’s grass. Most pests prefer long grass because it offers ample places to hide. By maintaining the proper mowing height, you can prevent pest infestations and keep your lawn looking great. For St. Augustine grass, the recommended mowing height is between 2.5 and 3 inches. Cutting the grass too short can invite weeds and diseases and expose it to excessive sun, which can lead to damage.

Start your mowing routine when your St. Augustine grass gets its spring green color and the grass blades reach a mowing height above 3 inches, typically between 3.75 and 4.5 inches. It’s important to follow the rule of one-third when mowing, which means not cutting more than a third of the grass’s height at once.

This helps prevent stress on your turf. Additionally, using sharp blades is crucial to avoid damaging the grass. Dull blades can result in a ragged appearance, unsightly yellow hue, increased susceptibility to diseases, and damaged turf.


Proper fertilization can greatly enhance the health and appearance of your St. Augustine lawn. Before applying any fertilizer, it is recommended to test your soil to determine its nutrient needs. Soil test kits are available at local hardware stores, or you can contact your local cooperative extension for more accurate laboratory testing. Typically, fertilizing your well-established lawn once a year is adequate for maintaining its health.

For warm-season grasses like St. Augustine grass, the best time to fertilize is in late spring or early summer. This is when the grass is actively growing and can benefit the most from the added nutrients. Over-fertilizing can burn your lawn, so it’s important to follow the recommended application rates and avoid applying excessive amounts of nitrogen.

Fertilizer burns can cause grass discoloration, root damage, and overall stress on the lawn. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and apply fertilizers according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Thatch Removal

Compared to other sod grasses, St. Augustine grass is not particularly prone to thatch buildup. However, if you notice excessive thatch in your lawn, it’s essential to address it promptly. Thatch is the layer of organic material that accumulates between the soil and the grass blades. While a moderate layer of thatch can provide protection from temperature extremes and help retain moisture in the lawn, an excessive thatch layer may hinder proper water penetration and serve as a breeding ground for pests and diseases.

If your St. Augustine lawn requires thatch removal, the best time to do so is in late spring or early summer when the grass is actively growing. It is important to note that a healthy layer of thatch is usually less than ½-inch thick. If the thatch exceeds this thickness, it’s recommended to remove it using a dethatching machine. You can rent dethatchers from local home improvement stores or hire a professional to do the job.


Aeration is a process that helps alleviate compacted soil, allowing water, air, and nutrients to reach the roots of the grass more effectively. St. Augustine grass lawns can become compacted due to heavy rainfall, parked vehicles, and frequent foot traffic.

Aeration involves removing plugs of soil from the ground to create channels for improved soil aeration. To determine if your lawn requires aeration, a simple test is to try inserting a screwdriver into the ground. If the screwdriver doesn’t penetrate the soil easily, it indicates soil compaction.

Clay soils typically require annual aeration, while sandy soils may only need aeration once every two to three years. When aerating, it’s important to avoid damaging the grassroots, so it’s best to aerate when the grass is actively growing, usually in the early summer.

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Disease Control

Despite proper St. Augustine grass care and maintenance, can sometimes fall victim to various diseases. Gray leaf spot is a common fungal pathogen that attacks the leaf blades of St. Augustine grasses. Fungicides are usually effective in treating this disease.

Pythium root rot is another common issue, especially in lawns with poor drainage. Signs of root rot encompass stunted growth, wilting, and crown rot. Improving drainage and adjusting irrigation practices can help prevent and control this disease. Take-all root rot is a more challenging fungal infection to treat as it resides in the soil and can be resistant to anti-fungal treatments.

Adjusting watering practices, such as opting for infrequent heavy soakings rather than frequent shallow watering, can help manage this disease. If your St. Augustine grass shows signs of disease despite your efforts, it’s advisable to consult a professional for accurate diagnosis and treatment options.

Pest Control

St. Augustine grass can attract a variety of pests that can damage the lawn and hinder its growth. Chinch bugs are a common pest that feeds on the sap of St. Augustine grass, injecting toxins that restrict water movement within the plant.

Insecticides specifically designed for chinch bug control are available at local hardware stores. White grubs are another common pest that can cause damage by feeding on the grass’s root system. Carbaryl and trichlorfon are commonly used to eradicate grubs in their various life stages.

Mole crickets are yet another nuisance pest that can damage St. Augustine grass by feeding on the roots and rhizomes. Flushing them out with soapy water can be an effective control method. Proper lawn St. Augustine grass care practices, such as maintaining the appropriate mowing height and watering schedule, can also help deter pests and minimize their impact on your lawn.

Weed Control

While St. Augustine grass is known for its dense growth that naturally chokes out most weeds, occasional weed infestations can still occur. Crabgrass and other weeds can compete with your grass for nutrients and water, affecting its overall growth and appearance. Herbicides can be utilized to control weeds effectively.

Pre-emergent herbicides are applied as a preventative treatment before weeds germinate. These chemicals impede the expansion of root cells in potential weeds, preventing their growth at an early stage. On the other hand, post-emergent herbicides are used to tackle weeds that have already germinated.

They kill the weeds by infecting the stalk, ultimately killing the roots. It’s important to choose the appropriate herbicide for your specific weed problem and follow the instructions on the label for safe and effective use.

Skip Overseeding

Unlike some other grass varieties, overseeding is not recommended for St. Augustine grass. Due to its dense growth habit, grass seeds are unlikely to reach the soil and germinate successfully. Attempting to overseen St. Augustine grass may require scalping the grass, which can cause significant damage.

Additionally, St. Augustine grass produces fewer seeds than other grasses, making it less suitable for commercial seed production. Instead, focus on proper care and maintenance practices to promote the spread and health of your St. Augustine lawn.

Call a Professional

Caring for St. Augustine grass can be a labor-intensive task, requiring time, effort, and expertise. If you find the maintenance becoming overwhelming or if your lawn requires specialized treatments, there’s no shame in seeking professional help. Hiring a lawn care professional can ensure that your St. Augustine lawn receives the proper care and attention it deserves, allowing you to enjoy a lush and healthy lawn all year round.


In conclusion, St. Augustine grass is a popular choice for homeowners in the southern United States due to its thick carpeted appearance and shade tolerance. You can keep your St. Augustine lawn in top shape by following the proper watering, mowing, fertilizing, and maintenance practices. Timely disease and pest control, as well as effective weed management, are also essential for maintaining a healthy lawn. Whether you choose to St. Augustine grass care for your lawn yourself or hire a professional, the effort you put into caring for St. Augustine grass will be rewarded with a beautiful and vibrant lawn that enhances your outdoor space.

Ready to transform your St. Augustine lawn into a lush paradise? Visit ECO Lawn Florida for expert care tips and professional services tailored to your grass’s unique needs. Your dream lawn is just a click away!