St. Augustine grass is one of the most popular grasses along the Gulf Coast, known for its rich blue-green grass blades and high tolerance to heat, humidity, and salt. But no turfgrass fares well without proper care and maintenance. If you don’t look after your St. Augustine grass lawn properly, it may turn brown, patchy, and thin. Luckily, there are some ways to revive St. Augustine grass.
How Do I Revive St. Augustine Grass?
The best way to revive St. Augustine grass is to give your lawn 1–1.5 inches of water every week, provide your soil with the correct nutrients, and eliminate any pests or other animals that may be killing the St. Augustine grass.
Can I Bring Dead St. Augustine Grass Back?
If your St. Augustine grass is truly dead, there is no reviving it. To get a healthy lawn, you’ll need to start from scratch—rake up what remains and apply new seeds. However, it’s possible your lawn can merely look dead for several weeks, when in fact it’s still living. Depending on the cause, you can revive these St. Augustine lawns.
What Killed My St. Augustine Grass?
Before you get started with solutions, you need to determine why your St. Augustine grass is suffering. The main reasons are pests like grubs and chinch bugs, turf diseases like Brown patch and gray leaf spot, poor soil quality, and excessive fertilizer applications. Here’s a breakdown of the common causes.
Too much fertilizer can burn your lawn, especially if it’s very high in nitrogen. Fertilizer burn happens when too much nitrogen is used and scorches the leaves—signs include yellow and brown discoloration and root damage. Stick to a regular fertilizer schedule, and feed your lawn according to its grass type.
St. Augustine grass can fall victim to a variety of diseases. Brown patch is the most common. This disease is caused by a fungus, and develops and spreads well in high heat and humidity. It can thrive from both poor maintenance—homeowners watering late into the evening, so the grass can’t dry overnight—and favorable weather conditions.
The root rot fungus disease Take All Patch looks a lot like Brown patch in the beginning. The grass blades wilt and become brown, and the root system will weaken. Gray leaf spot creates tiny lesions in grass, as well as brown spots and thinning grass.
Poor Soil Quality
Poor soil can lead to shallow root growth, preventing grass from developing healthy and hardy with adequate access to nutrients and moisture. Performing a soil test can show you what nutrients your lawn is lacking, and whether you need to make any amendments.
Insect damage is an incredibly common culprit in struggling St. Augustine lawns. Grubs, the whitish, soft-bodied C-shaped larvae of beetles like the Japanese Beetle and European Chafers, eat grassroots, killing off the grass.
Chinch bugs are another opponent. These pests suck fluid out of turfgrass, leaving behind a secretion that inhibits the flow of water and nutrients—ultimately wilting and killing the grass.
4 Steps to Reviving St. Augustine Grass
There are a few methods for restoring your struggling lawn to its former glory. They include improving soil quality, dethatching, watering properly, and more.
1. Give It Space
This first step is key—do not disturb your grass by playing on it, parking on it, or letting your dog urinate on it. Struggling St. Augustine grass is stressed and tender, and that activity will only make it worse.
2. Improve The Soil
St. Augustine grass can die if the soil isn’t conducive to its healthy growth. Here’s how you can rectify your soil situation.
- Perform a soil test: Start off your improvements by performing a soil test. You can purchase an at-home kit and send it off to a university or lab for testing. Knowing what composition and nutrients your soil needs will set your grass up for success.
- Dethatching: Too much thatch build-up can harm your St. Augustine grass anything over ½ inch spells trouble. Thatch is the decomposing layer of organic matter like grass shoots and stems that collects between the soil and your lawn’s grass blades, and it can choke your grass by limiting its access to necessary nutrients, air, and water. Either rent or buy a dethatching rake to break up this soil and improve your soil’s breathability.
3. Water The Grass
Proper watering techniques go a long way, especially in the dead heat of the summer. While the general recommendation is to give your lawn 1-1.5 inches each week over one of two waterings, in the summer, consider giving your lawn the same amount of water through three separate waterings. Make sure the water soaks down in the soil at a depth of about 6 inches.
You can test this by pushing a screwdriver into the ground and seeing how easily it slides. If you meet a lot of resistance, you need more water.
4. Be Careful Mowing
Be sure to set your lawn mower on its highest or second highest setting. This will let your grass grow tall, allowing it to grow deep, strong roots and better compete with weeds.
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Our Rating Methodology
To provide readers with the most objective, accurate, and detailed recommendations, the This Old House Reviews Team continually researches lawn care service companies on the market. We take the following steps to obtain up-to-date information about the industry and each company we review:
- Analyze more than 100 customer reviews from third-party review sites, such as Yelp, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and Google Reviews, for each company
- Secret-shop for lawn care plans and packages to get a sense of cost, offered services, and the overall shopping experience for prospective customers
- Speak with representatives on the phone to simulate the customer service experience from each provider
- Update information on a regular basis to ensure the most accurate information when plans or services change with each company
We use the data from our research to build an in-depth rating system that allows us to score lawn care providers on a 100-point scale. Here are the factors in our evaluation and their designated scores:
- Plan options (30): As one of the most important factors for homeowners shopping for a lawn care service, this one is weighted heavily based on each company’s lawn coverage. Companies that offer more options, such as irrigation, weed control, seeding, and aeration services in addition to a general plan, score higher than others.
- Trustworthiness (30): Each company’s reputation is another significant factor for homeowners to consider before signing up for a plan. We scored providers based on their BBB score, accreditation, and offered guarantees available with each purchase.
- Additional Benefits (20): We gave extra points to companies that provide a few additional services and benefits with their offered plans, such as organic treatments, pest control services, and a mobile app for digital communication and plan management.
- Customer Service (10): In this rating category, we awarded points to customer-focused lawn care service providers who offer weekend availability and easy communication through phones, online chats, and online resources.
Availability (10): We also scored companies based on their overall availability, rewarding those that are nationally available over local companies only operating in select cities or ZIP codes.
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