St. Augustine grass is one of the most popular lawn grasses in Florida and the Gulf states, thanks to its tolerance of heat and humidity. Its blue-green blades form a dense turf that establishes quickly and easily, and can tolerate salt, making it an excellent choice for coastal yards.
Planting St. Augustine Grass Using Plugs
An easy way to start a St. Augustine lawn is to plant plugs of established grass. The plugs, which are rooted pieces of sod, gradually fill in the spaces between them, producing a full, beautiful lawn. (You can also purchase St. Augustine sod, but it can be expensive.)
When to Plant St. Augustine Grass
St. Augustine grass grows best in the warmth of spring and summer, when high temperatures are normally 80-100 °F. Plant St. Augustine grass plugs or sod in full sun, at least 90 days before your region’s first estimated fall frost, to give the grass plenty of time to establish.
How to Plant St. Augustine Grass
- Measure Your Lawn
Determine the exact dimensions of the area you’ll be planting, to ensure you purchase enough St. Augustine grass plugs. A tray of 18 plugs will cover approximately 32 square feet.
- Prep the Area
If you’re replacing an existing lawn, rent a sod-cutter to remove the old sod and vegetation. Next, apply a non-selective herbicide 2 weeks before planting to kill weeds; make sure you use a product that doesn’t leave a residual that would harm the newly planted St. Augustine grass. If you only have a few weeds here and there, you can hand-pull them, but be sure to get the entire root system. Otherwise, they will pop back up while your plugs are establishing themselves.
- Apply EZ Patch™ Lawn Repair
Evenly apply Scotts® EZ Patch™ Lawn Repair for St. Augustine Lawns over the planting area so that no bare ground in visible. Scotts® EZ Patch™ contains fertilizer and a mulch that absorbs up to 6x its weight in water to help St. Augustine grass plugs fill in faster.
- Water the Ground
Thoroughly water the area before planting. Watering makes the ground more malleable and gives the roots of the St. Augustine grass plugs immediate moisture. The water you apply should soak in, not remain on the soil surface. Continue watering until the EZ Patch™ is completely saturated and no more water is being absorbed which may take several minutes.
- Start Digging
Now the fun begins. Dig holes in a diagonal planting pattern, so each group of four holes forms a diamond. The holes themselves should be spaced 12 inches apart (so holes across the center of each diamond will be 15 inches apart). Each hole should be dug slightly larger than, but the same depth as, the plug's root ball. You can also buy or rent a grass plugging tool from your local hardware store or online. This tool makes perfectly-plug-sized holes with a lot less work on your part.
- Place Your Plugs
Press one plug firmly into each hole, making sure each is level with surrounding ground. If your holes end up being too deep, you can add a little nutrient-rich soil to fill in the extra space.
- Keep Watering
Water daily or as needed until the plugs are firmly rooted and starting to spread. This will normally take about 7-14 days for the roots to establish. Afterward, water weekly unless your lawn is receiving generous rainfall.
- Monitor for Bugs & Disease
Newly planted St. Augustine grass lawns need protection while they are becoming established. The roots and turf are both susceptible to pests and diseases. Watch your lawn closely. If you see any brown spots or mildew beginning to form, contact your local extension agency for treatment options.
Maintaining Your New St. Augustine Grass Lawn
Once your new St. Augustine grass lawn starts to fill in and the grass blades reach a mowable height, cut the grass with the mower set to one of the highest settings (3-4 inches). Water your lawn when the leaf blades begin to fold and turn bluish-green in color. Six to 8 weeks after planting, feed with Scotts® Turf Builder® Southern Lawn Food. Continue to feed every 6-8 weeks until the lawn has completely filled in.
Choose the Right Spreader for Your Lawn
Having the right spreader goes a long way in your lawn care routine. Use the simple guide below to pick the broadcast spreader that’s best for your lawn size.
- Small lawns: 1,500 ft2 or less
- Scotts® Whirl™ Hand-Powered Spreader
- Medium lawns: 5,000 ft2 or less
- Scotts® Turf Builder® Edgeguard® Mini Broadcast Spreader
- Large lawns: 15,000 ft2 or less
- Scotts® Turf Builder® Edgeguard® DLX Broadcast Spreader
- Extra-large lawns 20,000 ft2 or less
- Scotts® Elite Spreader