How to Make St. Augustine Grass Spread Quickly and Grow Thicker
A thin lawn is not very attractive. If you’re growing impatient with your grass not covering your yard fast enough, this guide will help you make St. Augustine grass spread quickly, grow back, and form a thick cover for a beautiful lawn.
Are you looking for advice on how to get St. Augustine grass to spread faster and grow thicker? If so, then plant St. Augustine during summer and make sure you lay it down the right type of soil – preferably a well-aerated soil type. Apply phosphorus fertilizer and keep a good watering schedule to help with quicker root and foliage development.
You may also need to kill weeds early enough to prevent competition for nutrients and allow your lawn to grow thicker.
If you’re planning to lay sod or install St. Augustine plugs on your lawn, you’re probably wondering how long you’ll have to wait before the grass spreads and covers the entire lawn with its beautiful, lush green color.
Does St. Augustine Grass Spread?
Yes, St. Augustine grass has a dense growth pattern and spreads relatively fast in comparison to most types of warm-season turf-grasses. This fast spread is facilitated by above-ground shoots (stolons).
In addition, the fact that this grass species has good traffic tolerance means that it will still spread at a normal rate even when under use while it still hasn’t fully filled in.
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How to Make St. Augustine Grass Spread Faster
Get St. Augustine Plugs Online
Check out SodSolutions to order St. Augustine plugs and have them sent directly to your door from local sod farms.
Homeowners that don’t consider sodding as their preferred lawn method of establishing a lawn may have to wait for a bit longer before they have a filled-in, usable lawn.
However- you don’t always have to wait for so long because there’s always something you can do to make St. Augustine grass spread faster and grow thicker.
Here’s what you can do to help your St. Augustine lawn grow and spreads faster to cover your entire lawn:
1. Use the right type of soil
Before planting St. Augustine grass on your lawn, you may want to choose a soil type that best supports the growth and spread of this turfgrass variety. Some soil types (such as waterlogged soil) tend to inhibit the growth of St. Augustine by depleting underground oxygen supply.
For bare spots and uneven areas in your yard, you may need to add some topsoil, as this helps reduce pooling.
If your lawn is growing slowly and remains sparse or thin, the problem could be water-logging. This turfgrass does not grow and spread fast in compacted clay soils.
- The best soil for St. Augustine grass is one that is well-drained (like sandy soil) with pH ranges from 5.0 to 8.5. A slightly acidic pH will still be great for faster growth and spreading.
- For top-dressing a St. Augustine lawn, use either sandy loam soil or clean free-flowing sand. Use no or very little organic material.
To find out whether you have the appropriate soil type to facilitate the fast growth of St. Augustine, you can reach out to A&M’s AgriLife soil testing service, They’ll test your soil and brief you on its health and quality. Or pick up a DIY soil test kit and find out what you need to do to your soil to give the perfect environment for your St. Augustine to spread.
2. Stick to the appropriate maintenance schedule
You should ensure to draft and follow a weekly lawn maintenance schedule post-establishment. Effective maintenance comprises watering, fertilization, and mowing. This will speed up the spread of St. Augustine grass.
The appropriate mowing height for St. Augustine grass is 3.5-4 inches. It’s also important to use a high-quality, slow-release fertilizer that will promote St. Augustine’s growth.
Phosphorus-laden fertilizers are great for stimulating grass spread during the first few months post-establishment. Afterward, you can switch to normal nitrogen fertilizer. The appropriate amount is about 0.7lbs of “Nitrogen” per 1,000sqft. Be sure to read and follow the bag rate of your preferred fertilizer.
Proper watering/irrigation is also important. It entails watering multiple times daily during the first-week post-installation. For the second week, ensure to irrigate your St. Augustine grass sods/plugs up to at least half-an-inch of water.
By the sixth week, you should have scaled back the irrigation frequency to a point whereby you only water the lawn when necessary.
3. Plant St. Augustine grass during summer
Being a warm-season turfgrass, St. Augustine grows best during summer. You should, therefore, establish your lawn in mid-summer when conditions are great for the growth and spread of this grass species all over your lawn.
St. Augustine grass is usually dormant during the colder winter and fall seasons. Growing during these seasons is- thus- not recommended if you want a quick spread.
4. Control weeds effectively
Unwanted weeds within your lawn will compete for important nutrients with your St. Augustine grass. Weed invasion can really hinder the growth and spread of the desired plant species.
It’s crucial to effectively get rid of weeds in your lawn to make St. Augustine spread quickly and grow thicker. Common notorious grass weeds that can slow down the growth and spread of St. Augustine grass include crabgrass, dallisgrass, and most broadleaf weeds.
How long does it take for St. Augustine plugs to spread?
Normally, it takes about 7-14 days for newly installed St. Augustine grass plugs to begin spreading, following firm root establishment in the soil.
Once the rapid growth/spreading starts- however- the amount of time it will take for the bare spots on your lawn to be completely filled in may vary, depending on the plug spacing you choose.
Below, we take a look at the various plug installation spacing methods that will determine how quickly your St. Augustine grass plugs spread.
High-Density Plug Installation
This method requires a 6-11-inch spacing between the sprigs, creating ample room for healthy root development. When the roots are able to tap adequate nutrients from the soil despite such close spacing, your chances of ending up with a fast fill-in are higher.
Typically, you should have a fully-filled, thick lush green lawn within a year if conditions are perfect.
Typical Density Plug Installation
This density choice requires St. Augustine grass plugs to be spaced out about 12-18 inches from each other. With this density, the St. Augustine grass plugs will spread at a slower rate and you’ll have to endure a longer fill-in duration for bare spots on your lawn.
On the upside, it’s more cost-effective compared to high-density plug installation, as you won’t have to use lots of sprigs to cover up your entire lawn.
Low-Density Plug Installation
This option requires a 13-24 inch spacing- and is recommended for lawns that experience low foot traffic since it takes time for the St. Augustine plugs to fully spread out over the entire lawn with such wide spacing.
Typically, it takes well over a year for St. Augustine grass to spread and fully fill in over a regular-sized backyard lawn.
Can You Buy St. Augustine Grass Seed?
Short answer, no. You don’t need to seed a yard with St. Augustine. This grass type comes in plugs or cuts of squares and this is what you will plant in your yards. Using plugs is much cheaper upfront but requires a few weeks of patients while it fills in. Keep on reading to learn how to help it spread out faster and healthier.
In a nutshell…
Just to recap what’s been discussed – St. Augustine grass is a fast-spreading turfgrass species. However, you can still improve this spread-rate by considering a few aspects. But always start with a soil test so you know how to treat your yard properly for optimal growth.
The rate at which St. Augustine grass spreads depends on various factors including- soil type, lawn maintenance routine, and the time of planting/installation.
If you want St. Augustine grass to spread faster, plant during summer and make sure you lay down the right type of soil- preferably a well-aerated soil type. Apply phosphorus fertilizer adequately and keep a good watering schedule to help with quicker root and foliage development. Also, kill weeds early enough to prevent competition for nutrients.