St. Augustinegrass is a warm-season grass with medium density and medium to dark green color. Of all the warm season grasses, it is the least cold tolerant and has the coarsest leaf texture. St. Augustinegrass grows best in warm, humid areas that are not exposed to long periods of cold weather. In fact, its lack of cold tolerance is the major limiting factor in determining its use in North Carolina. Centipedegrass can often be confused with St. Augustinegrass. However, centipedegrass has alternating leaves at the nodes whereas St. Augustinegrass has opposite leaves at the nodes. Centipedegrass also has a more pointed, slenderer leaf blade than St. Augustinegrass. Both leaf blades are V-shaped in cross section, but that of St. Augustinegrass has a more obviously boat-shaped tip.
Heavy clay soils or heavily trafficked sections of lawn may benefit from aeration. If it is needed, aerate in late spring or early summer when the grass is actively growing and capable of recovery.
If circular patches of brown grass up to several feet in diameter appear, you may have Brown (Large) Patch. Gray Leaf Spot also may be a problem. Control both diseases as necessary with proper fungicides.
Apply ½ pound of nitrogen (N) per 1,000 square feet in May or 2 weeks after greenup, whichever is last. Use a complete (N-P-K) turfgrade fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio (12-4-8 or 16-4-8). Yellow appearance may indicate an iron deficiency. Spray iron (ferrous) sulfate (2 ounces in water per 1,000 square feet) or a chelated iron source to enhance color as needed. Submit a soil sample to determine nutrient requirements, if you haven't already. (Contact your county Cooperative Extension agent for details.) Apply lime if the soil-test report suggests it.
Control any white grubs. If drought symptoms or yellow spots occur in a sunny location, check for chinch bug activity. Push a coffee can (with both top and bottom removed) into the ground and fill it with water. Any chinch bugs present will float. Treat for chinch bugs if you have 20 or more chinch bugs per 1,000 square feet.
Actively growing St. Augustinegrass requires about 1 inch of water per week, all at once, if possible. If you don't get enough rain, you will have to water. Sandy soils often require more frequent watering (½ inch every third day). Proper irrigation may prevent or reduce pest and other problems.
Before greenup, remove dormant grass leaves by mowing to 2 ½ inches with a rotary mower that has a newly sharpened blade. Maintain the lawn at 2 ½ inches, mowing before it gets to 4 inches. Leave clippings on the lawn.
Replant large bare areas in May (or when daytime temperatures are continually above 60oF) using plugs planted on 12-inch centers or sprigs space-planted at the rate of 1 ½ bushels per 1,000 square feet. (One square yard of turf pulled apart is equivalent to 1 bushel of sprigs.)
If crabgrass and goosegrass have been a problem, apply preemergence herbicides by the time dogwoods are in full bloom. Control broadleaf weeds as necessary with postemergence herbicides. St. Augustinegrass is sensitive to certain herbicides (2,4-D and MSMA), so follow label directions and use caution.
View this presentation
View this publication
seedhead a thick spike with spikelets imbedded along the sides
leaves folded in the bud
short fringe of hairs, 0.01 inches (0.3 mm) long
warm season turf
boat shaped; blunt; not hairy
0.16 - 0.4 inches (4 - 10 mm) wide
continuous; not hairy, constricted
open; sheath is slightly hairy along edges and toward top
Whether you’re a professional superintendent for a pro team or a local high school athletic field director, the NCSU Sports Turf App contains sports turf specific information to help improve your fields.
Please read these instructions before downloading the software:
Click below to download the software: