St. Augustine turf grass is a favorite for many warm-season climate regions in the United States and worldwide. If this grass type is grown in the right conditions and looked after properly, it will have impressive growth during the summer season. This grass will keep you on your toes and require you to keep it under control.
Mowing St. Augustine grass is an essential part of maintenance, as is the cut frequency. So, if you want to keep your St. Augustine lawn in the best possible health, then a consistent cutting schedule is key. Let’s find out how often you should be mowing your St. Augustine lawn.
How Often Should You Mow St Augustine Grass? (The Short Answer)
St. Augustine grass grown in warm-season climates and cut at the height of 3 ½ to 4 inches will need mowing every week. This cutting schedule will start in spring and continue all the way through to late summer. Once cooler weather arrives, mowing can reduce to every 2-4 weeks during the dormant stage of growth. St. Augustine lawns cut shorter than 3 ½ to 4 inches will require shorter periods between cuts.
Not Confusing St. Augustine with other Grasses
St. Augustine turf grass is coarse in texture, medium to dark green in color, and has a low, dense growth pattern. Its name covers a range of various grasses, including Raleigh, Palmetto, Floratam, Texas Common, and Seville, just to name a few.
To the untrained eye, their appearance is very similar because of their stolons (horizontal growth also called runners) and thick, matte growth. Cutting schedules can vary slightly between varieties, but generally, they are very similar. Many of the sub-species are cultivars (hybrid) developed by institutions such as the Universities of Texas and Florida to optimize performance in different conditions and climates.
If you are unsure what type of St. Augustine grass you have or want, then a quick conversation with your local County Extension Agent would be a great help.
How Your St Augustine Mowing Schedule Should Change Throughout the Year
Established St.Augustine has two main growth periods we can all recognize: growing and dormant. These two periods are dictated primarily by the climate. Growing usually starts in the spring as temperatures begin to warm up. The grass top becomes active and growth can go from very little to a lot in no time at all. So, let’s take a look at these two stages in some more detail.
How Often Should You Mow St. Augustine Grass During the Growing Stage?
Well, in my experience, St. Augustine grass that is regularly mowed at 3 ½ to 4 inches needs to be cut as early as March. During early spring, I’d recommend you only cut the lawn every two weeks. This allows the grass to switch growth stages and not be over-shocked by the first few cuts. But I would only do this for the first month as St. Augustine grows really quickly once it gets going. So, once the first growth month has passed, I’d shift the mowing schedule to once a week.
How Often Should You Mow St. Augustine Grass During the Dormant Stage?
Once the summer comes to an end, St. Augustine grass will begin to slow down grass blade growth and focus its energy on root growth. This usually occurs around late September and early October. You’ll start to notice that there is a significant reduction in growth. During this stage, cutting every two weeks is plenty.
How Does Where You Live Affect How Often You Should Mow St Augustine Grass
Warm-season climate grasses such as St. Augustine have an optimum growing temperature range of 75-90 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that location has a big part to play when it comes to growth patterns and growth rates.
A St. Augustine lawn grown in Miami, Florida will have a vastly different cutting schedule than a St. Augustine lawn grown in Savannah, Georgia. Lawns that are grown in areas with colder fall and winter periods will usually turn completely dormant. As a result, these lawns may not need to be cut at all until spring comes back around. However, in places like Southern Florida, St. Augustine will slow down a lot during winter, but will still need to be cut every 2-4 weeks depending on how cool it gets.
How to Tell If You’re Mowing Your St Augustine Grass Too Often?
Over mowing can cause some real issues to your St. Augustine lawn. While you may want to have a perfectly cut lawn all of the time, getting the mower out too often will have some bad effects. Let’s go over a couple of signs of overcutting a St. Augustine lawn.
Loss of Color
The first thing you’ll probably notice is that the lawn starts to lose its dark green color. Overcutting causes the grass to spend most of its time repairing the cut blades and using all the available nutrients and energy. As a result, the plant becomes nutrient deficient and loses its color.
With its energy focused on repairing the cut blades, the grass has very limited energy and nutrients for the rest of the plant. Following the loss of color, the plant will begin to get patchy and die as the roots and stems weaken.
Signs You’re Not Mowing Your St Augustine Grass Often Enough
During the peak of the growing season, it can be difficult to keep up with the growth. This is made even more difficult when your lawn is waterlogged from the summer rains compounded with the effect fertilizers have on rapid growth. Here are some of the problems you could face if you’re not cutting your St. Augustine grass enough.
Cutting Off Stolons
If St. Augustine is left to grow too long, the stolons will begin to grow out of the lawn. As a result, when you’re mowing the lawn you’ll end up cutting these runners and potentially kill parts of the lawn.
If you leave long gaps between cuts, then you’ll be giving the weeds extra time to establish. Long cutting breaks allow the weeds to flower, seed, and grow bigger roots, becoming more difficult to control with the lawn mower.
Weakening the Lawn
As a general rule, you shouldn’t be cutting off any more than a third of the blade at any one time. If you happen to let the grass grow too long, then you’ll have to cut off more than a third. As a result, the lawn becomes overstressed and weakens. Not only will the appearance and health deteriorate, but it also gives disease and pests an opportunity to take hold.
Lawn Going to Seed
Grass going to seed in itself isn’t a problem, but for a lawn it is. Grass diverts a great deal of energy to flower and seed production which detracts from root and blade growth. Lawns that go to seed also go patchy and never look good for long. Out in nature, this isn’t a problem, but in your backyard, it’s going to look terrible if it happens too often.