I live in Central Florida, on the east coast. We moved here from up north where lawns were much easier (and softer). I know lack of water is a problem but need other tricks at getting a less patch St. Augustine turf lawn. Any suggestions?
Depending on the age of your lawn, you might want to rent a power aerator to remove plugs from the lawn to allow more air to the roots of the grass. You can do this by hand, but if your lawn is of any decent size, renting a power aerator will be well worth it.
I've seen aerator shoe frames that you strap to your feet and walk the lawn, that is another choice, but it will take a very long time to do, and you sure will look funny walking all over the lawn in baby steps to get the right coverage. I think you can rent/buy manual rollers too, but to properly cut deeply, they're going to be heavy, so be ready for a workout. If you have a lawn tractor, there should be aerator rollers available for it.
I feel your pain - I'm in NW FL, and keeping the lawn in good shape without a ridiculous water (or elec if you have well irrigation) bill is difficult, especially if you have trees competing with the grass for what little water is there.
On a brighter note, if we only get tropical storms this year, your lawn should perk up over the next few months.
St. Augustine is a creeping grass. And, it doesn't take to a great deal of foot traffic. When I lived in FL (Key West) we used to spread sand over the lawn periodically, just to give the runners a place to grab ahold of. You'll want to cut it as high as fescue, not bermuda.
We're having problems in central Georgia too. My dealer replaced the rear tires on my Ariens self propelled mower with spiked ones. Even so, the grass looks sickly from the drought.