St. Augustine grass is one of the most popular turfgrass choices for Florida lawns because of it’s nature to adapt well in subtropical climates and coastal regions. Thriving in the heat, St. Augustine grasses are the perfect choice for your central Florida lawn. These grasses can survive some drought conditions but do not stand up well to cold temperatures for extended periods of time. They can handle moderate foot traffic and are ideal for residential or business settings. St Augustine grasses prefer full sunlight and require plenty of moisture, performing best in humid climates. There are variety of different types but which St. Augustine grass should you plant as the foundation of your lawn?
Varieties of St. Augustine Grass
Bitterblue has a fine but dense texture and dark blue-green color. This variety of St. Augustine grass is a good option for Florida lawns that also have mature trees incorporated into their landscape. Unlike other varieties, it offers a good shade tolerance and slow growth rate; meaning you will mow less often. This variety of St. Augustine grass was developed with a moderate cold weather tolerance although is not resistant to a familiar Florida lawn pest, the chinch bug. It has a low tolerance to atrazine, which can make weed control difficult. Choosing Bitterblue St. Augustine grass for your central lawn can provide you with a beautiful lawn paired with the proper pest control and management practices.
One is one of the most popular choices of St. Augustine grass for Florida homeowners. Floratam adapts well in many soil conditions and thrives in direct sunlight. Floratam is know forit’s excellent dehydration avoidance and drought resistance. It was released in the early 1970’s by the Florida and Texas Agricultural Experiment Stations as SAD virus and chinch bug resistant (hence the name FLORida and TexasAM). Over time these resistances have weakened and chinch bugs are now a major problem for Floratam St. Augustine grass. A lawn with Floratam grass requires 6+ hours of sunlight per day. Under these conditions it will grow vigorously in the central Florida area. However it can become dormant in colder temperatures and suffer freeze damage when exposed to temps below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods of time.
Developed in Daytona Beach, FL Palmetto St. Augustine grass excels in coastal and island areas. It is quickly being adopted as the prefered St. Augustine grass with its outstanding reputation dating back to 1994. This grass does well in full sun or partial shade. Some of its other notable features are a natural resistance to chinch bugs and thatch buildup. It has a finer (softer) texture than ordinary St. Augustine grasses and an excellent green color that make it a top choice for your home’s lawn. Palmetto prefers the heat but tolerates cold temperatures better than other types of St. Augustine grasses; withstanding temperatures near 5 degrees F. without showing significant damage. In fact, this past winter Palmetto grasses in the Tampa area remained green after two nights of heavy frosts. Where Floratam and Raleigh St. Augustine grasses in this area both sustained significant browning out damage. Palmetto grass boasts a deep and massive root system, ideal for transplanting and quick establishment. This also reduces the need for frequent watering. As much as it sounds like a miracle grass, please remember it is a living plant and needs to be properly maintained and treated for pest activity. In doing so, Palmetto St. Augustine grass can provide years of gorgeous green lawn for you and your family to enjoy.
Other types of St. Augustine grasses
- Sapphire: High performance, fine blade St. Augustine. Has a distinctive blue-green color and a soft texture. Suitable for warm climates, areas with saltiness, shade and drought. It is an excellent choice for coastal regions and requires less fertilization. Sapphire shows good recovery from wear, with reduced weed problems.
- Seville: Has an excellent color retention through the fall months. It tolerates salt, shade and drought well and has a long leaf blade that gives it a unique appearance.
- Delmar: A dwarf St. Augustine grass that has good shade tolerance, but does well in full sun too. Delmar has a tendency to develop heavy thatch.
- Delta Shade: As the name states, this grass has a good shade tolerance.
- Floralawn: Has poor shade and cold tolerance; performs best in mild environments
Over-fertilization and soil pH are two of the biggest culprits in thatch build up. A core soil test will tell you what your soil’s pH is. If you are interested in a core soil testing Superior Spray would be happy to perform one for you. You can schedule a test by calling 863-682-0700. Another reason for thatch development is excessive watering. Watering your grass, whether it needs it or not, can result thatch buildup. If the thatch dries out, it can crust over and become “hydrophobic”. Meaning water can not penetrate it, but instead, will puddle on the surface. Tests have shown that nearly 100% of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides can not penetrate a heavy thatch and will become trapped on top of it. Core aeration can be a solution to breaking up thatch allowing water, air, fertilizers and insecticides to reach the root system. After an aeration, leave the soil cores on the grass. They will break down naturally and feed the soil’s micro-organisms.
The major pest of St. Augustine grass in Florida is the chinch bug. This tiny insect has needle like piercers that suck out the grass’s juices. Their saliva is also toxic to St. Augustine grass and compounds the damage. Chinch bugs usually surface as the temperatures start to rise in spring and their damage looks similar to drought conditions, in the beginning. You can check for chinch bugs yourself by cutting off both ends of a coffee can. Then press the can into the ground at the suspected infected area. Fill the can with water, making sure to keep the water level above the grass line. The chinch bugs should float to the top; they will be about the size of an ant. If you see pests and would like a pest management estimate for your lawn call Superior Spray or leave us a request on our website. Superior Spray has insecticides available for controlling chinch bugs and other pests that can harm your St. Augustine grass such as sod webworms, cutworms, grub worms and mole crickets. Grasshoppers can also be a problem in summer months.
We understand that selecting the right St. Augustine grass for your home can be tricky. We hope our quick guide has been helpful in weighing the pros and cons of the different types of St. Augustine grasses. If you need assistance with your central Florida lawn or have questions for our pest managment team you can always reach out to us.