St. Augustine grass, scientifically known as stenotaphrum secundatum, is a popular, warm-weather grass. Found in California and the southeastern coastal line of the United States, the hardy St. Augustine grass provides a rich green color and thick coverage. Designed for warm weather, winter can be brutal on this grass species. Take care of St. Augustine grass in the winter by promoting a healthy lawn during the warmer months.
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Proper Planting Areas
St. Augustine grows from South Carolina, stretching through Florida and Georgia all the way to Texas. This grass also is commonly found in California. The one similar trait of these states is that they are not usually subject to extremely cold temperatures. In Georgia, St. Augustine grass is rarely grown north of central Georgia due to the occasional frosts that hit the area.
The first step to properly care for this grass in the winter is to only plant it in proper climates. The lethal temperature for St. Augustine grass ranges from 25 to 18 degrees F. If your area remains above these temperature levels, growing St. Augustine grass is feasible. If not, consider other grass options.
Ensuring Health Before Winter
Even if your climate does remain above the lethal temperature window, winter can still wreak havoc on St. Augustine grass. A healthy lawn during the spring, summer and autumn months will prepare your lawn for winter. Fertilize your lawn to help protect it from winter lows. Use a phosphorous-heavy or well-rounded fertilizer after the first three months of planting. This is the crucial growth period. Fertilizing in this time period will ensure thick and heavy coverage. Fertilize every subsequent month after the initial fertilization with a nitrogen-based fertilizer. Follow the directions found on the package for proper application of the fertilizers.
Several winterizing methods will help your St. Augustine grass come back strong in spring. Mow your lawn evenly and cut it to a length of about 2 inches on your last trimming before winter. This concentrates the nutrients in a smaller section of the grass. During the rest of the year, do not cut your grass too short; cut only the top one-third of the grass blade. This will allow your grass to re-seed itself, helping it remain thick and hardy during the winter.
Remove all major debris from your lawn, including lawn tables, branches or anything that covers a substantial area of your sod. If you have pets, watch for areas where they urinate frequently. The acid can kill the grass, especially in the winter months. Hose down these areas to dilute the urine concentration.
Rake up heavy collections of leaves. A thick layer of leaves cuts down the oxygen intake of the grass.