St. Augustine Grass: Types, Diseases, & How To Grow

What Is St. Augustine Grass?

One of the most popular types of grass for lawns is St. Augustine grass. This grass is also commonly known as Charleston grass, wiregrass, pimento grass, quick grass, mission grass, couch grass, and carpet grass.

St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is also known as buffalo grass in South Africa and buffalo turf in Australia. But it should not be confused with Bouteloua dactyloides, commonly known as “buffalograss” or “buffalo grass”, which is a North American prairie grass native to Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

Its ability to tolerate heat and humidity makes it a warm-season grass. It is common in the southern United States, (specifically in Florida and Gulf states), Australia, Mexico, and South America.

The blades of St. Augustine grass are coarse and thick and have a compact blue-green color. This type of grass grows well on different soil types that should be well drained. It is also relatively tolerant of salt, making it a good choice for coastal areas.

St. Augustine grass can be susceptible to diseases and insects. As a result, it is important to provide this type of grass with the proper care in order to maintain a healthy lawn.

It is a relatively medium to low-maintenance grass, but it does require regular mowing and watering to stay healthy. Overall, St. Augustine grass is a versatile and hardy option for lawns in warm climates.

St. Augustine Grass at a Glance

Botanical nameStenotaphrum secundatum
Plant typePerennial grass
Average mature size6 to 12 inches
Hardiness zones7 to 12
Requirements for soil typeWell-drained, moderately fertile, and moist (not waterlogged) soils
Soil pH value6 to 7.5
Sun ExposureFull sun to partial shade
Spreads by (Growth habit)Stolons
Foot traffic toleranceModerate
Shade toleranceModerate
FoliageWide, coarse blades
Potential for diseaseModerate to high
Drought resistanceModerate
Peak seasonWarm months
Native AreaThe Caribbean, southeastern U.S., and  South America
Common NamesCharleston grass, wiregrass, pimento grass, quick grass, mission grass, couch grass, and carpet grass

What Are The Types of St. Augustine Grass?

Below here are the most common St. Augustine grass types:

1) Delmar St. Augustine Grass

Delmar is one of the highly cold-tolerant St. Augustine cultivars and it is a fair option for home lawns. This grass will require low maintenance when it establishes its roots.

It is medium coarse textured and emerald green colored grass. Sometimes it also grows with a golden brown color when it grows dormant in the winter.

Some of the key characteristics of Delmar St. Augustine grass are:

  • Fair disease resistance
  • Moderate drought tolerance
  • Fair shade tolerance
  • Fair wear resistant

2) Evergreen St. Augustine Grass

It is a semi-dwarf variety of St. Augustine grass and is best known for its good color retention property. This grass has shorter and narrower blade leaves and is dark green in color.

This variety could turn to its green color quicker than others after the winter cold and could retain its color through fall.

Some of the key characteristics of Evergreen St. Augustine grass are:

  • Fair sun tolerance
  • Fair shade tolerance
  • Low foot traffic tolerance

3) Sapphire St. Augustine Grass

Sapphire St. Augustine Grass is well known for its finest blue-green color and fastest lateral growth. It is little high-maintenance grass. However, it is very susceptible to diseases specifically brown fungus. This means that you have to re-sod areas of your lawn every year.

Some of the key characteristics of Sapphire St. Augustine Grass are:

  • Fair drought tolerance
  • Good wear tolerance
  • 2 to 3 inches of mowing height
  • Good shade tolerance

4) Bitter-blue St. Augustine Grass

This is a high-maintenance St. Augustine grass variety. It has a deeper blue-green color and produces finer, solid turf.

With great drought-tolerant properties, Bitter-blue St. Augustine Grass requires weekly irrigation as it is a slow grower.

It is susceptible to fungal diseases, chinch bugs, cutworms, mole crickets, etc., so it would need high lawn care and maintenance.

Some of the key characteristics of Bitter-blue St. Augustine grass are:

  • Good cold tolerance
  • Moderate foot traffic tolerance
  • Good drought tolerance
  • Good salt tolerance
  • 3 to 4 inches of mowing height

5) Mercedes St. Augustine Grass

Mercedes St. Augustine Grass was developed in 1980 by the University of Florida and has a look very similar to the Raleigh.

It is one of the loved grasses among lawn owners due to its property of retaining its blue-green color even during low temperatures.

It grows roots in a rhizomatic way through stolons. It has broad flat stems and thick, coarse leaves.

But, it is very susceptible to chinch bugs.

Some of the key characteristics of Mercedes St. Augustine Grass are:

  • High wear tolerance
  • Good shade tolerance
  • Good drought tolerance
  • 3 to 4 inches of mowing height
  • Accommodates moderate to high traffic
  • Requires 4-6 hours of sun exposure

6) Palmetto St. Augustine Grass

It is one of the recommended choices for residential and commercial lawn owners due to its properties of resistance to various ph levels and soil types.

This grass contains a more solid green color as well as a finer texture.

Palmetto St. Augustine is well-known for its fine texture and medium-sized blades with a more solid green color. It has a fairly good shade, drought, cold, and salt tolerance as compared to other cultivars of St. Augustine grass.

It is a dwarf type like Delmar and Seville. It stays green for the longest period of the year than its other cultivar cousins.

Some of the characteristics of Palmetto St. Augustine Grass are:

  • Superior salt tolerance
  • Superior cold tolerance
  • Superior drought tolerance
  • Excellent shade tolerance
  • Good injury Recovery
  • 1.5 to 2.5 inches of mowing height
  • 8 to 9 mm of blade width

7) Floratam St. Augustine Grass

Floratam is the most commonly produced and used St. Augustine Grass variety. This is due to its low-maintenance, and cost-efficient properties. It was developed to combat diseases like the St. Augustine Decline (SAD) virus, brown bug, downy mildew, green leaf spot, and chinch bug.

It has wide blades and a coarse texture. It flourishes in hot summer and goes dormant in cold weather.

Some of the key characteristics of Floratam St. Augustine Grass are:

  • Good drought tolerance
  • Good disease resistance
  • Moderate wear tolerance
  • 3 to 4 inches mowing height
  • Blade Width of 8 to 9 mm
  • Fair shade tolerance

8) Raleigh St. Augustine Grass

Raleigh St. Augustine Grass was developed in Raleigh, North Caroline; hence the name. It is known to have stunted growth if it gets a very high temperature.

It flourishes in conditions such as medium to low soil ph levels, high organic matter, and heavy, clay soils.

As far as the leaf thickness and density are concerned, Raleigh St. Augustine grass falls in between Palmetto and Floratam.

Also, it requires constant, full sun exposure.

Some of the characteristics of Raleigh St. Augustine Grass are:

  • Excellent shade tolerance
  • Good cold tolerance
  • Good drought tolerance
  • 8 to 9 mm of blade width
  • 3 to 4 inches of mowing height
  • Good wear tolerance

9. Seville St. Augustine Grass

Seville St. Augustine Grass is known to have a very good reputation among the residential landscapes.

It is the dwarf cultivar of the St. Augustine grass, which has blue-green color. This grass has high color retention property even during the winter season.

It can thrive in all soil pH levels, from acidic to alkaline. Thus, it is a great option for coastal and inland areas.

It requires low maintenance after the development of the roots.

Some of the characteristics of Seville St. Augustine Grass are:

  • Good drought tolerance
  • Good shade tolerance
  • 2 to 3 inches of mowing height
  • Excellent injury Recovery
  • Good wear tolerance
  • 8 to 9 mm of blade width

How And When To Plant St. Augustine Grass?

St. Augustine grass can be planted through seeds, sod, and plugs.

Let’s understand how to plant this grass through different methods and when to plant i.e. what is the ideal time to plant this grass through various approaches.

Planting St. Augustine Grass Through Seeds

If you want to plant St. Augustine grass using seeds, there are a few things you need to do to ensure success. The best recommended time for this is late spring or early summer.

  • First, choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil. St. Augustine grass needs full sun to thrive, so avoid shady areas.
  • Next, prepare the soil by loosening it with a shovel or hoe. The soil should be loose enough so that the roots can easily penetrate it.
  • Once the soil is ready, sprinkle the seeds evenly over the area and then lightly rake them into the surface.
  • Be sure to water the lawn regularly (daily or every other day) until the seeds germinate and develop their roots properly.
  • You can water the lawn less frequently once the grass is well established. But make sure that the grass receives at least one deep watering every week on a regular basis and twice a week during the hot summer months.
  • Once the grass starts to grow, you can begin mowing it on a regular basis.

With a little care and attention, your St. Augustine grass will be luscious and healthy!

Planting St. Augustine Grass Through Sod

Saint Augustine grass is typically propagated using plugs or sod. It is a warm-season grass, so for best results, it should be planted during the spring or summer.

  • While planting Saint Augustine grass using sod, it is important to choose a well-drained area with full sunshine.
  • Spray the glyphosate weed killer all along the planting area and leave it still for at least 2 weeks.
  • Till the soil for approximately 4 to 6 inches deep.
  • Remove any debris the tiller unearthed like roots and rocks, and plain down the surface of the planting area with the help of a rake.
  • Now, it’s time to lay down the sod along the edge of the planting area.
  • The sod should be laid down in a staggered row, and they should be moistened before being pressed into place.
  • Once the sod has been laid down, it should be watered thoroughly. Keep watering daily for approximately 3 weeks.

With proper care, St. Augustine grass will establish itself quickly and provide years of enjoyment.

Planting St. Augustine Grass Through Plugs

If you want to plant St. Augustine grass using plugs, the best time to do so is in the late spring or summer.

  • The first step is to clear the area where you want to plant the plugs.
  • Be sure to remove all weeds, rocks, and other debris.
  • Wet the ground thoroughly before you start the planting process.
  • Next, use a garden hose or measuring tape to mark out evenly spaced rows.
  • Then, use a spade to dig holes that are slightly larger as wide and deep as the plugs.
  • Once the holes are prepared, insert the plugs into the soil and gently backfill with the soil. 
  • The plugs should be planted in rows, with each plug spaced 12-18 inches apart. Firm the soil around each plug and water thoroughly.
  • For best results, water your new lawn daily until the grass establishes itself. After that, water the lawn area at least once a week on a regular basis and twice a week during the hot summer months.

With proper care, your St. Augustine grass will soon be thriving!

What Are The Problems and Diseases That Might Affect St. Augustine Grass?

Following are the major problems and diseases that can affect St. Augustine grass:

1) St. Augustine Decline (SAD)

St. Augustine grass is susceptible to a number of diseases, the most common of which is “decline.” St. Augustine Decline (SAD) is caused by Panicum mosaic virus, and it can lead to the yellowing and thinning of grass blades.

In severe cases, entire patches of grass may die. The grass can be affected by this disease if it comes in contact with certain contaminated tools or Sod.

While there is no cure for this disease, you can prevent it from happening by making sure anything that comes to your lawn is not contaminated.

2) Brown Patch

Brown patch disease of St. Augustine Grass is a serious problem that could affect your lawn badly. The disease is caused by a fungus, Rhizoctonia solani. This fungus thrives in hot and humid conditions with wet soil.

Brown patch generally affects your grass from spring to the late winter.

Its symptoms include circular brown patches of dead grass, which can range in size from a few inches to several feet across.

The best way to control brown patch disease is to keep your lawn healthy and well-maintained. This means mowing regularly, watering appropriately, ensuring the soil is well drained, and fertilizing according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you do notice brown patches developing in your lawn, treat them immediately with a fungicide such as azoxystrobin, thiophanate methyl, and myclobutanil. With quick action and regular care, you can keep brown patch disease from taking over your lawn.

3) Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs are a type of tiny insects that feed on St. Augustine grass, and they can cause a lot of damage to your lawn if they are not controlled. These bugs are red in color when they are young but they turn black with a white spot after growing.

These bugs suck the juice from the grass, causing irregular brown patches and eventually death of the grass.

If your lawn has chinch bugs, then you will need to treat your lawn with an insecticide.

You can also try to prevent these bugs by mowing your lawn regularly and keeping it free of debris. Be sure to monitor your lawn closely for any sign of infestation. Also, make sure that the soil is well-draining.

With a little effort, you can keep your St. Augustine grass healthy and free of pests.

4) Fairy Ring Disease

Fairy Ring Disease is a type of fungal infection that primarily affects St. Augustine grass. This disease is caused by the fungus Basidiomycetes which alters the properties of soil in the ring. This disease can cause a variety of problems to your grass, including dark green rings, and unhealthy growth.

This disease can also be caused by the buildup of toxins in the root system of the grass.

Sandy soil with little moisture and excess thatch can also make the St. Augustine grass more susceptible to this disease.

The best way to treat lawns with this disease is to:

  • Water the lawn
  • Dethatching the lawn
  • Application of nitrogen fertilizer to the ring to boost root growth
  • Treating the lawn with a fungicide in severe cases

5) Take All-Root Rot (TARR)

Take all-root rot is a common problem for gardeners, especially those who grow St. Augustine Grass. This disease is caused by a fungus named Gaeumannomyces graminis var., which grows in a web on the surface of the roots and causes them to become completely rotted and shrunken.

If left untreated, root rot can eat up all the grass, leaving bare patches on the lawn.

The best way to control root rot is to avoid it altogether.

Thus, to prevent TARR:

  • Dethatch your lawn
  • Water the grass appropriately
  • If the soil is compacted, then aerate your lawn
  • Improve soil drainage
  • Mow properly
  • Appropriate use of herbicides (avoiding excessive use)

If you do notice any signs of Take all-root rot, such as yellow grass or brown, weak and dead patches on the turf, start treating it immediately. 

For its treatment:

  • Use fungicides, and
  • Cover the affected area with a layer of sphagnum peat moss.

6) Nigrospora Stolon Rot

Nigrospora stolon rot is a fungal disease that also affects St. Augustine Grass. It is caused by the fungus Nigrospora sphaerica.

The disease can cause the grass blades to wilt, turn yellow, and then die. The disease becomes critical during drought and high-temperature conditions.

Once the grass is infected, the only way to treat and prevent the spread of the disease is to apply a fungicide. Also, make sure to water the grass appropriately to prevent the recurrence of this disease.

7) Grey leaf spot

Grey leaf spot is a fungal disease that can also affect St. Augustine grass. The disease is characterized by circular and oval spots with dark brown borders that appear on the leaves of the grass.

Grey leaf spot is caused by the fungus Pyricularia Grisea, which thrives in shaded, humid, and hot areas.

This disease is often triggered by:

  • Overwatering the grass
  • High temperatures
  • Excessive use of fertilizer
  • Nitrogen deficiency

You can prevent the Grey leaf spot by:

  • Watering the grass appropriately
  • Not planting this grass in a shaded area
  • Improving soil drainage

But once the grass is infected, the only way to treat and prevent the spread of the disease is to use a fungicide containing pyraclostrobin, fluoxastrobin, or azoxystrobin.

With this, we have discussed everything about St. Augustine Grass like its types, problems, and diseases affecting it, and how and when to plant this grass. Hope you have liked reading this article.


1) St. Augustinegrass – Home & Garden Information Center, Clemson University        

2) St. Augustinegrass Yearly Maintenance Program – Home & Garden Information Center, Clemson University           

3) St. Augustine Grass

4) Summer Lawn Diseases

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