St. Augustine Grass
St. Augustine Grass
St. Augustine Grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) (also known as Charleston Grass in South Carolina) is a warm season lawn grass that is popular for use in tropical and subtropical regions. It is a medium to high maintenance grass that forms a thick, carpetlike lawn, crowding out most
weeds and other grasses.
St. Augustine is a dark green grass with broad, flat blades. It spreads by above ground stolons, commonly known as “runners” and forms a dense layer of grass.
The grass originated in North America, and it occurs on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, including much of the southeastern United States, including Texas, Mexico,
and Central and South America. It has escaped cultivation in California, many Pacific islands, and New Zealand.
St. Augustine grass is one type of grass that commonly exists in most Caribbean and Mediterranean areas. It breeds best in tropical climates.It is often seen in lagoons, marshes, shorelines and wherever there is a good amount of moisture.
Planting and propagation
Only recently has commercially valuable viable seed for St. Augustine become available, so it has typically been propagated by plugs, sprigs, or sod. Once the grasses are cultivated, then they can propagate on their own.
St. Augustine can grow in a wide range of soil types with 5.0 to 8.5 pH. St. Augustine grasses will be in full bloom between springtime and summer. St Augustine grass produces runners that allow it to grow and spread.
St. Augustine grasses are popularly used in pastures and ranches. They are also a popular grass covers for home lawns. It rivals the reputation of Bermuda grass, although St. Augustine grasses are somewhat less drought tolerant.
St. Augustine comes in several varieties:
Captiva(R). Released in 2008. Developed by the University of Florida for its Chinch bug resistance and dwarf profile which requires less mowing.
Floratine. Released 1959. Darker color, finer texture, tolerated lower temperatures and lower mowing.
Floratam. Released 1972. Resists SAD and chinch bugs[disambiguation needed]. Not as cold- or shade-tolerant.
Palmetto. Released in 1989. Selected for its shade tolerance and cold tolerance.
Raleigh. Released 1980. SAD resistant and shade tolerant, but susceptible to chinch bugs.
Sapphire. Released 2004. Selected from Australia for its dark blue green color and rapid lateral growth.
Seville. Released 1980. Finer texture than Floratam, but shared Floratam’s strengths and weaknesses.
Texas Common. May be the original St. Augustine. It has fallen out of favor due to its susceptibility to the incurable St. Augustine Decline (SAD) virus.
The best time to water a lawn is in the morning, preferably before noon. This allows the grass to dry before nightfall, reducing the risk of disease. Take into account recent rainfall when deciding how much to apply. Watering restrictions may impact how often you can irrigate. Check
your local news for the latest information. If restrictions mandate watering every other day, the schedules below may be modified to fit the rules.
How to measure the amount of water applied by irrigation:
• Place four identical containers randomly in the area wetted by your sprinkler.
• Plastic cups can be used but weight them down with a heavy washer in the bottom of each.
• Let your sprinkler run for an hour.
• Measure the depth of water that has accumulated in each cup.
• Calculate the average of the depths. This gives you the amount (in inches) that has been applied in an hour.
• Make a mental calculation of how long it will take to apply an inch of water.
• Don’t be surprised if your sprinkler must run for more than an hour to apply the water your lawn needs.
WATERING NEW SOD
• One inch of water immediately after sod is laid.
• Apply enough water daily to prevent the top one inch of soil from drying until sod is rooted to the soil
• After that, apply one-fourth inch of water every third day for nine days.
• Next apply one-half inch of water every fifth day for ten days.
• After this establishment period, apply one inch of water per week for the rest of the growing season.
• There is no need to water if rainfall supplies the correct amount.
Lawn fertilizer is manufactured by many companies. Each manufacturer uses a slightly different blend of plant nutrient chemicals to arrive at a final product.
• Chemicals such as urea, ammonium nitrate, urea formaldehyde and ammonium phosphate provide the nutrient nitrogen which rapidly-growing lawns need more than phosphorus and potassium.
• Most lawn fertilizer products are granular but some are designed to be applied after they are dissolved in water. Granular fertilizers tend to last longer (up to three months) in the soil.
• Slow-release fertilizers are generally better for a lawn than fertilizers that release their nutrients quickly during the first rain.
The first application of fertilizer to St. Augustine grass should be made in spring when the grass is 50% green OR when soil temperatures are above 65 degrees visit the local news to determine local soil temperature.Fertilize St. Augustine grass every six weeks thereafter until mid-September. Do not fertilize after mid-September.
Cyclone spreaders and drop spreaders can do a good job. Make sure the spreader is set properly to apply the right amount of fertilizer. It is best to apply half of the fertilizer going back and forth on the lawn and the other half while traveling at right angles to the first trip.
This will give even coverage so you do not get streaks of yellow and green in the lawn.
Choosing a Lawn Fertilizer
BEST FERTILIZER? A confusing array of fertilizer brands awaits homeowners at the garden center. Fortunately, grass cannot read the advertisements Fertilizer bags with similar nutrient numbers will perform much the same. For instance, 30-3-9 fertilizer will perform much like 29-3-4. In
general, look at the first number on the bag (Nitrogen) to compare value between brands.
HOW MUCH? Read the fertilizer bag to find out what the manufacturer recommends. An alternative is to divide the first nutrient number into 100.The result is the number of pounds of fertilizer to spread on 1000 square feet. Using 30-3-9 as an example, a good rate would be 3.3 pounds of
fertilizer per 1000 square feet of lawn.
Q: When I go to a garden center to buy lawn fertilizer, there are several different brands. All of them have different fertilizer numbers on the bag but they all claim to be better than the rest. What is the best fertilizer for a lawn?
A: It’s a good thing your lawn grass can’t read fertilizer bag labels. Confused grass turns yellow and dies no matter what you do for it! It makes little difference which fertilizer you buy as long as it is labeled for use on a lawn. Occasionally there is a reason to use a specific
analysis, such as 15-0-15 on centipede grass. For fescue, Bermuda and zoysia grass, if the numbers on the bag are similar, make your decision based on price. The better brands are formulated to have some percentage of “slow release” nitrogen.
Q: Can I put down lime when I spread fertilizer on my lawn?
A: As long as the turf is dry, the particles of either one will not stick to grass blades. They will simply fall to the ground and will start the ir good work as soon as it rains.
Every lawn grass has a height at which it should be mowed for best health. The rule is that only one-third of a grass plant should be removed in one mowing. As an example, if you intend to mow your St. Augustine grass lawn at a 2 inch height, you can allow it to grow to 3 inches between
mowing. If you fertilize moderately, mowing a lawn should only be needed once per week.
St. Augustine grass lawns need to be cut at a height of 2 to 3 inches. Rotary mowers can do a good job if your St. Augustine grass lawn is relatively smooth and you keep the blade sharp. Otherwise, a more expensive reel mower will be needed. Research indicates that a height of 3 inches is best
when growing St Augustine grass in partial shade.
If you allow the grass to get much taller than 3 inches you’ll mow down into the stems that have grown tall and the lawn will not look its best after you mow.
Measure the mowing height by stationing the mower on a flat surface and noting the distance between the blade and the ground. Make sure all four mower wheels are set to the same height.
The first step in good mowing is to have a sharp blade. If the blade has not been sharpened in the past year, it needs to be sharpened or replaced. Dull blades whip the grass ends rather than cutting the grass. The ragged ends left by a dull blade cause a lawn to look yellowish the day after you mow.
Ragged grass blades also lead to more water use by the grass and possibly an increase in disease.
In fall, let the grass go dormant without excessive mowing. It will have a nice brown color during the winter. In mid March, mow off the top brown blades to expose the soil to the sun and warm the soil. Scalping the grass very low is not necessary. Burning the dead grass is also not recommended. It is illegal
in most areas and it is dangerous in all places.
It is not necessary to catch the clippings when you mow. Research has shown that letting the clippings fall on the ground does not lead to disease or thatch problems. The clippings actually return nitrogen to the soil and save you money on fertilizer.