If you’ve done your research and found that St. Augustine grass is perfect for your lawn needs and location, you are likely wondering: When is the best time to plant St. Augustine grass? Obviously, getting the timing right on any new planting will have a major impact on the result, so before you start, you want to make sure the conditions are optimal.
When to Plant St. Augustine Grass (The Short Answer)
Summer is the peak growing season for St. Augustine grass. This is a warm season turfgrass and loves heat, so it grows best when high temperatures are between 80- and 100-degrees F. However, it’s not quite that easy. Your ideal month for planting will depend on other factors as well.
Factors That May Influence When You Should Plant St. Augustine Grass
While summer is peak season for the growth of St. Augustine grass, there are reasons you may choose to plant during another season. You will want to think about the following:
As always, you must consider your region. The average temperatures and rainfall where you live will largely determine when you should plant. So, the answer to the question of when to plant St. Augustine grass will not be same in Florida as it is in Texas.
- Summer temperatures are usually best but could get high enough to stress new grass. If the high daily temperature averages well over 100 degrees F in the summers where you live, then it may be better to plant in the spring or even early fall, as long as it is at least 90 days before the first frost.
- The winter temperatures will affect your planting window as well. If winters are cooler in your area, it is extremely important that the St. Augustine grass is well established before cold sets in. If on the other hand, winters are very mild in your region, you will have more flexibility since your turf is less likely to be damaged by cold. No matter where you live, you will definitely want to avoid the coldest months.
- The amount of rainfall in your region will also affect your answer because areas with less rainfall will require more watering. Humid regions with plenty of moisture are more forgiving during the peak heat months.
How Much Watering Do You Want to Do?
In addition to the seasons of peak growth, you probably want to know which planting time will require the most watering. I’m guessing you don’t want to run sprinklers or stand outside with a hose for a whole month. If you live in Texas, or another region where the summers are hot and dry, your new St. Augustine grass may need to be watered as much as several times a day!
When the grass is first planted and putting down roots, it must be kept constantly moist. If it dries out during this time, the turf may be damaged beyond repair. This extra watering is not only a hassle for you and a negative for the environment, it may also be illegal in areas affected by drought conditions.
Does The Ideal Time Differ Depending on Whether You Use Seed, Plugs or Sod?
Yes, it does. First, the ideal time for planting St. Augustine seed is…never. St. Augustine grass is almost impossible to grow from seed – even sod farmers use their leftover runners to grow new turf. No one grows St. Augustine grass from seed.
As far as plugs versus sod, the ideal time for planting does differ between these two options. Plugs take at least a few months (often longer) to fill in, which makes spring best for giving new grass the longest growing season.
Sod, on the other hand, can become fully established in as little as 30 days, given the right conditions. So, if planting sod, the best time could be later in the year.
I wrote another piece that talks in greater depth about the differences between St. Augustine plugs vs sod.
Optimum Time to Plant St Augustine Grass in Different Locations
Since different locations have different climates and seasonal characteristics, the optimum time to plant varies depending on your region. To recap, the key is knowing when your area’s climate meets the following criteria:
- Daily high temperatures between 80- and 100- degrees F.
- A decent amount of rainfall, at least relative to other seasons.
- A minimum of 90 days before the first fall frost.
Below is a table that lists the optimum time to plant St. Augustine grass in several different states.
|North Carolina||Late Spring||Summer|
|South Carolina||Late Spring||Summer|
For most of us, late spring to early summer is the best time to plant St. Augustine grass. You want warmth, time for establishment, and water. Whenever the environment can best provide your new grass with those conditions, plant away. You will have a lush, green St. Augustine lawn by the next season, maybe sooner.