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Ultimate Guide To St. Augustine Grass Seed

St. Augustine grass is a hardy variety of ground cover that performs extremely well in the southern and gulf coast states. It is well suited to the humidity and handles high temperatures very well. This type of grass seed produces thick, green lawns with a soft, carpet like feel. It is ideal for both golf courses and lawns. It offers many benefits in addition to its beautiful green coloring and soft texture. These include:

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  • Excellent Heat Tolerance
  • Moderate Nitrogen Requirement
  • Good Drought Tolerance
  • Excellent Shade Tolerance
  • Wear Tolerance Is Fair
  • Average Time Frame For Establishment Of Root Bed And Full Grass Growth
  • Medium Water Requirements
  • Coarse Leaf Texture
  • Spreads Using Above Ground Shoots (Called Stolons) That Radiate Outwards

Weaknesses

Ultimate Guide To St. Augustine Grass Seed

For all its beauty, St. Augustine grass seed has many weaknesses. It does not tolerate cool temperatures well and can be easily damaged by prolonged exposure to cold air. Although it will grow in partial shade, its performance will be moderate at best if the temperatures drop too low without the benefit of adequate sunlight. This type of grass seed is extremely vulnerable to both insect damage and disease, including St. Augustine Decline Virus. SADV can damage large areas of lawn that contain it. Gray leaf spots and brown patches can also occur throughout lawns where the virus has been a problem.

Chinch bugs are also a problem for this type of grass seed. An infestation of chinch bugs is characterized by the browning of the leaves as well as rapid wilting. A large infestation can cause brown patches in a lawn that are several feet across. In some cases, depending on the severity of the problem, yellow spots may also be sign of chinch bugs. Repeated applications of insect repellant may be needed to stop and then control the infestation of chinch bugs.

Growing Habits

St. Augustine grass has broad, coarse leaves and stems that are large and flat. It grows rapidly during the warm, summer season and will become dormant as the weather becomes cooler, causing it to turn brown and growth to cease. With its blue-green hue, this type of grass creates a lush, thick lawn with a dense turf base resembling a solid grass carpet. This particular grass seed grows extremely fast and requires frequent mowing to keep it looking plush and full.

It should not be planted in areas where the temperature drops below freezing in the winter months. The seed flourishes in temperatures that hover around 85 to 90 degrees, but struggles when temps fall below 40 to 50 degrees for prolonged periods of time. Although states in the southern portion of the country experience cooler temperatures, they do not last long enough to cause lasting damage to lawns and golf courses seeded with this type of grass.

Professional lawn care experts suggest using less than 4 pounds of nitrogen rich fertilizer for every 1,000 square feet. Excessive watering and too much fertilizer can create and abundance of thatch that can build up and hinder growth. If allowed to remain on the lawn, excessive amounts of thatch can lead to insect infestation and the spread of diseases that primarily affect this type of grass. Pre-emergent herbicides can also damage this particular breed of grass. 2,4-D, MSMA and other herbicides in the pre-emergent family can directly impact the seed’s growth and, in some cases, damage the plant base beyond repair.

When using any type of herbicide, insecticide or fertilizer, always make sure to follow the directions on the package closely to prevent damaging the existing grass. If there are any questions concerning when to use a specific product or how much to use, ask a plant professional at a local green house or call the information number on the back of the package.

Brands

Sunniland St. Augustine Weed/Feed is designed to be used on all types of St. Augustine grasses. The mixture is 14-0-6 Atrazine fertilizer blend. It can be purchased in 20 pound bags and is easy to use whether it is broadcast through a hand-spreader or applied through a mechanical seeder. The reviews of this brand of grass are mediocre at best, claiming the seed produces grasses that turns gray easily and has difficulty recovering from cooler temperatures. SeedWorld Argentine Bahia grass seed is extremely versatile. Sold in 50 pound bags it can be spread with a hand spreader or mechanical seeding machines. It works well in partial shade as well as full sunlight. This seed has the same texture as other grasses and produces a thick, plush carpet of soft, green grass, suitable for lawns or golf courses. It needs little maintenance and is extremely drought tolerant due to deep root beds.

Scott’s offers St. Augustine in both seed form as well as plugs that can be planted separately. When properly spaced, the plugs take approximately 3 weeks to begin to spread and fill in gaps between each planting. In the beginning, fertilizing and watering the newly planted seeds or plugs is imperative for proper growth. Scott’s offers several grass blends that contain this type of seed.

Jonathan Green & Son grass seed includes St. Augustine seeds in their mix. Because of its ability to grow and spread quickly, it can be efficiently used to repair areas of a lawn that have been damaged or dug up. This brand of seed includes several varieties of seed blends designed to accommodate almost every need from partial to full sunlight and extremely high traffic areas.

Once the lawn is covered and an adequate root bed has been established, St. Augustine grasses require little, overall maintenance. Because their roots, travel deeply into the ground, less water is needed to promote healthy growth and keep the lawn looking vibrant green. It is one of the fastest growing grasses on the market. With moderate care immediately after planting, a full lawn can be achieved in a matter of weeks. While seeds or plugs can be purchased, seeds are more convenient for the average homeowner. They take longer to establish a full lawn, but require less work during the planting process.

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Matt Hagens

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