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How to Make St Augustine Grass Thicker

St Augustine is a high maintenance grass that can be characterized by the broad blades and dark green color with blue hues in the warmer months. This type of grass grows from overground stolons, so finding these is typically the easiest way to determine whether your lawn is made from St Augustine or not. 

St Augustine grass is generally quite dense and hardy, and it isn’t the fastest-growing grass, either. If you want to speed up the growth rate of your lawn, there are some steps that you can take to do so. 

A thicker lawn will also look better if the grass has spread further out within less time, so we’ll also be talking about this later in our article. We’ll also touch on how long this whole process should take, as long as everything goes to plan.

With the warmer months in full swing, it’s the perfect time to plant your St Augustine grass, so let’s get right into it!

How to make St Augustine grass thicker

Preparing for Installation

St. Augustine is usually purchased in sod rolls which can be installed around your lawn. Before you can even do this, however, it is imperative that you know the state of the soil in your garden.

Conduct a soil test so that you can choose the correct fertilizer for your grass to ensure that it accepts the soil and continues to thrive in your garden. A soil test will give you a pH level of the soil. The ideal level for St Augustine grass will be between 5.0 and 7.0, so you may need to alter your soil’s level before installing your grass.

You can choose a fertilizer that makes your soil more or less acidic, depending on your original level. This will give your lawn the best chance of sticking and growing in happy and healthy.

You should also ensure that the soil is also graded properly and leveled out efficiently. Grading is simply the act of ensuring that the base is flat and even, and this will prevent water from being able to pool in different spots underneath the grass. St Augustine needs well-draining soil, which is why water pooling must be avoided.

Once you’ve effectively prepared your garden, you can get to installing your St Augustine grass!


Watering

Once you’ve installed your lawn, you’ll need to water the grass multiple times a day while the grass gets used to its new home. This can take up to seven days, so clear your schedules so that you have enough time to look after your lawn. 

The next week will call for soaking the grass every day, and every week thereafter will need the grass to be soaked multiple times a week until your grass has been installed for six weeks. Once you’ve reached this milestone, your grass will most likely have adapted to your garden so you’ll only need to water it when needed. 

St Augustine grass is good at telling you when it needs watering, as the color will change and the blades won’t respond as effectively when you touch them. Once you see these characteristics, it’s time to get the hose out. 

Ensuring that you set up a routine for your watering schedule over the first six weeks of your lawn being installed will help the grass root firmly to the soil beneath. This will also give it the best chance of remaining healthy throughout this stressful period, which will help it thicken up quicker than if it were unhealthy. 


Mowing

Once you’re confident that your sod has rooted and cemented its place in your garden, you can mow the lawn once it gets too unruly. It is imperative that you mow your St Augustine lawn with a sharp blade as this will give the appearance of thicker blades.

We wouldn’t suggest mowing your lawn any lower than a third down the blades. As St Augustine blades are broad and flat, the thickest section of the blade is a third of the way down from the tip. Cutting any lower than this will leave you with thinner looking blades and therefore a thinner looking lawn.  


Fertilization

Fertilizing your lawn will make it grow faster and thicker, but it’s not as simple as purchasing the first fertilizer you see and hoping for the best. Instead, you’ll need to check the label of the individual grass that you planted and see what nutrients it calls for.

St Augustine will need a certain percentage ratio when it comes to the nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. You may need to work this out to get the correct fertilizer, which will take more time and effort than you’ll perhaps like to spend.

Having said that, using the correct fertilizer will make a great difference to the thickness of your St Augustine lawn, so it’s an important step to take when embarking on this journey. Make sure that you only fertilize your lawn in the active growing seasons of spring, summer, and fall. 


Weeding

Weeds growing on your lawn will leach the nutrients away from your grass to consume themselves, which has the potential to stunt the growth of your grass. If you want your grass to grow fuller and thicker, you’re going to have to get rid of those pesky weeds!

You can do this chemically or by hand, but bear in mind that chemical weeders do have the potential to harm your grass. Either do your research and make sure that you choose a chemical solution that is safe for St Augustine grass, or stick to weeding by hand. 

How to make St Augustine grass spread

Okay, now we know how to keep St Augustine grass growing thick, but that’s not the only problem we have. If you’re choosing to plant your St Augustine grass with plugs rather than sods, you’ll want your grass to spread quickly to avoid a patchy lawn.

Thick grass can only go so far in making your lawn impressive, and if there are still patches where the grass hasn’t spread to yet, the thickness of the blades won’t be enough to cover them. 

Instead, we need to learn how to get the grass to spread and grow out to cover more space. St Augustine grass spreads quite quickly, but it still needs a helping hand to get started. These techniques are often similar to the steps that we discussed regarding how to get your St Augustine grass to grow thicker, but there are a few differences. 

Below we’ll list a few things that you can do to make your dream of a large, even lawn a reality. 


Planting at the Right Time

We’ve already taken a look at the preparation steps that should be taken before planting your St Augustine grass, but when is the best time to plant it? Well, it’s pretty simple, actually - you should always aim to plant your St Augustine grass during the summer months. 

St Augustine grass originates from tropical and subtropical places such as the Caribbean and Mediterranean regions. For this reason, it has the best chance of rooting in your garden during the hottest months of the year. 

While it thrives in the warmer seasons like spring and summer, St Augustine grass becomes dormant during the winter. Therefore planting in the fall and winter is not advised, as this will stunt the growth and potentially ruin the rooting process. 

Planting in either spring or summer will give your lawn a headstart in the spreading process as it should begin thriving as soon as it’s settled in and rooted properly in your garden. 


Planting at the Right Time

We’ve already taken a look at the preparation steps that should be taken before planting your St Augustine grass, but when is the best time to plant it? Well, it’s pretty simple, actually - you should always aim to plant your St Augustine grass during the summer months. 

St Augustine grass originates from tropical and subtropical places such as the Caribbean and Mediterranean regions. For this reason, it has the best chance of rooting in your garden during the hottest months of the year. 

While it thrives in the warmer seasons like spring and summer, St Augustine grass becomes dormant during the winter. Therefore planting in the fall and winter is not advised, as this will stunt the growth and potentially ruin the rooting process. 

Planting in either spring or summer will give your lawn a headstart in the spreading process as it should begin thriving as soon as it’s settled in and rooted properly in your garden. 


Maintenance Schedule 

Once your grass has been successfully transplanted into your garden, you’ll need to think of the future. It’s important to lay out a schedule for your lawn and stick to it, as this will ensure that your grass gets all the correct nutrients and care that it needs to continue thriving and spreading. 

For this, you’ll need to do some primary and secondary research. Firstly, you’ll probably have to go through some trial and error to see what your lawn likes and dislikes. Secondly, you should take to the internet to see examples of other St Augustine maintenance schedules. 

Your schedule should include when you’ll be watering, mowing, and fertilizing the grass each week. Watering is a little inconsistent as it depends on the weather and how well-draining your soil is, so you can refer to this on a daily basis if you’d prefer. However, make sure that you don’t forget and allow it to dry out completely. 

Fertilizers need to be applied throughout the growing seasons. A mixture with phosphorus as the main substance will help your grass spread the most during the first couple of months, and then you can change to a different fertilizer with a unique ratio of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, just like we talked about above. 

Following a schedule will not only make sure that you’re remembering to take care of your lawn, but it will also prevent you from overwatering or over-fertilizing your St Augustine grass. This can also stunt the growth and spread rate, so it’s best to track what you’re doing to avoid the disappointment of a patchy lawn for a prolonged period of time.  


How long will it take to get an enviable lawn? 

Provided that you install your St Augustine grass properly and under the correct conditions, it shouldn’t take more than two weeks for your grass to begin growing thicker and spreading faster. If you’re using sods, you won’t have to worry about the grass spreading, but you will if you’ve opted for plugs. 

Plugs call for spacing between them so that the roots don’t become overcrowded, and the size of this space will alter how long it takes for the grass to spread to an even coverage. If you space them 6 to 11 inches away from each other, you should have a thick, luscious lawn within a year.

The most common spacing is 12 to 18 inches between the plugs, and this will take longer to fill in all the gaps. Alternatively, you can space them 13 to 24 inches away from each other, which will take much longer than a year to grow in. 

You may be thinking, why not just space them as close together as possible? Well, St Augustine grass plugs can cost a pretty penny, and therefore spacing them further apart will be much more cost-effective, especially if you have a large lawn space. 

Final Say

And that concludes our article on how to make St Augustine grass thicker. The final result will depend on whether you opt for grass sods or plugs, as if you choose the latter you’ll also need to consider how to make the grass spread quickly. 

For sods, however, you need to ensure that your preparation work is on top form, and that you have a good watering and fertilization schedule. Don’t mow it too short to keep the thickest part of the blade showing for a more fuller look. 

In regards to plugs, making sure that your grass is happy and healthy will help it become thicker and quicker to spread out more. You’ll also need to determine how close you’re going to plant the plugs to one another, as the further apart they are, the longer it will take to get an even St Augustine lawn.