St Augustine Grass

How To Revive St. Augustine Grass

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Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 06/07/2024

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 if this happens.

We’ll walk you through the process, from proper watering techniques to improving soil quality. Remember that hiring a professional lawn care company is the most efficient way to maintain and improve your lawn. Based on our research into national lawn care providers, we recommend TruGreen, a nationwide company with five annual plans, more a la carte options, and a satisfaction guarantee.

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How Do I Revive St. Augustine Grass?

The best way to revive St. Augustine grass is to give your lawn 1/2 to 3/4 inches of water once or twice a week, provide your soil with the correct nutrients, and eliminate any pests or diseases that may be killing the grass. If you have an automated irrigation system, watering your lawn late at night or in the pre-dawn hours is best. That way, you’re not watering at the same time as dew forms, which can exacerbate diseases caused by prolonged moisture exposure.

Steps to follow

Even if your grass looks sickly, there’s often hope for restoring your struggling lawn to its former glory. The agricultural school at the University of Florida, where St. Augustine grass is a popular choice, offers some recommendations for caring for this turfgrass.

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 traffic and other 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 or hire a professional lawn care company. 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. 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. This is best done between early spring and midsummer.

3. Water the Grass

Proper watering techniques go a long way, especially in the dead heat of the summer. For typical maintenance, you can water as needed when grass blades start to wilt or fold, applying 1/2 to 3/4 inches of water at a time. In the fall and spring, one or two waterings per week may be sufficient, but you may need more in the summer. Make sure the water soaks down in the soil at a depth of about 8 inches.

4. Be Careful Mowing

Many homeowners inadvertently mow their grass too short in an attempt to mow less frequently. This can actually stress the grass and attract weeds and pests. For best results, set your mower blades to 3.5–4 inches for St. Augustine grass. This height allows for proper root growth.


Can I Bring Dead St. Augustine Grass Back?

St. Augustine grass is a warm-season grass, which means it goes dormant when the temperature drops below about 55°F. If the temperature is low and your grass looks yellow-brown and crispy, you may just need to wait for the weather to warm up.

However, 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. St. Augustine grass seed has a notoriously low germination rate, so you will likely need to invest in plugs or sod.


What’s Wrong With My St. Augustine Grass?

Before you get started with solutions, you’ll need to figure out why your St. Augustine grass is suffering. The main reasons are pests, turf diseases, poor soil quality, and excessive fertilizer application.

Excessive Fertilizer

Too much fertilizer can burn your lawn, especially if the fertilizer is 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.

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Diseases

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 thrives in high heat and humidity. It can develop as a result of both poor maintenance—homeowners watering late into the evening, so the grass can’t dry overnight—and high heat and humidity.

Take-all root disease is also caused by a fungus and 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 the grass, as well as brown spots and thinning grass. Your lawn may need to be treated with a fungicide to get rid of these diseases.

Pests

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 grass roots, killing off the blades.

Chinch bugs are another lawn destroyer. 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.

Poor Soil Quality

Poor soil can lead to shallow root growth, preventing grass from developing healthy and hardy roots 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.


Professional Lawn Care

A lawn care company like TruGreen can help keep your lawn healthy and robust, and less susceptible to browning from pests and disease. TruGreen offers five annual plans and a variety of additional lawn treatments in every state except for Alaska and Hawaii. If you’d like to get a free quote from TruGreen, call 866-817-2287 or fill out this easy form.


FAQ About Reviving St. Augustine Grass

How do you fix damaged St. Augustine grass?

To fix damaged St. Augustine grass, you will need to maintain an ideal watering schedule, provide your lawn with the right fertilizer, and ensure that your soil is properly pH-balanced. You may need to apply pesticides or herbicides depending on the specific problems you’re experiencing.

What does Epsom salt do to St. Augustine grass?

Epsom salt can promote seed germination, nutrient absorption, and growth for both St. Augustine grass and a variety of plants in your yard.

How do you fix bare spots in St. Augustine grass?

We recommend that you sod or plug bare spots in your St. Augustine lawn rather than seeding them. You can purchase sod or plugs to cover your bare spots from a local garden center.

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