How to Revive St. Augustine Grass
Believe it or not, struggling St. Augustine grass can be revived. Here are the steps to get it green again—and how to prevent it from suffering in the first place.
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.
This Old House will 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 care for your lawn. The This Old House Reviews Team recommends TruGreen, a nationwide company with five annual plans, a la carte options, and a satisfaction guarantee. To get a free quote, 888-535-3193 or fill out this easy form.
Can I Bring Back Dead St. Augustine Grass?
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’s Killing Your 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.
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.
Giving 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.
Improving 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.
Performing 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.
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.
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.
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.
Top Recommended Lawn Care Provider
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 a la carte services in every state except for Alaska. If you’d like to get a free quote from TruGreen, call 888-535-3193 or fill out this easy form.