Last Updated on March 2, 2023 by Mattias
They are mostly used in gulf states and Florida lawns, st. Augustine (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is a grass species famous for its tolerance to heat and humidity.
This grass is best for coastal areas. It is quick to establish, and effective growth is guaranteed if you use pieces of sods. However, sods may not be suitable for everyone because they are costly. Plugs, on the other hand, are a much cheaper alternative.
They are rooted pieces of grass most suitable for smaller areas where sod isn’t practical. Plugs quickly establish and start spreading, which is why they are used to repair damaged areas or fill in the bare spots on your lawn.
This article answers: how to plant st augustine grass plugs.
How To Plant St. Augustine Grass Plugs
Using plugs is the cheapest way to grow an st. augustine lawn, and here’s how you can do it.
1. Measure the area
Measuring your lawn area is the first and most important step in planting St. Augustine grass plugs. This step is performed at the beginning to determine how many square feet need to be covered and how many plugs are required.
You can use a tape measure but take driveways, sidewalks, shrubs, trees, and other landscaping elements of your entire lawn into consideration.
You can also use digital instruments such as the area calculator tool. It is a resource that generates square footage measurements after you put your address in it and draw an overlay of the desired area.
Once you have taken the measurements per square foot, go to your nearest gardening store and buy the plug trays.
St. Augustine grass plugs should be planted at least 12 inches apart. Some general estimations are listed below, but remember that the number of plugs will vary based on the size of the grass plugs and the spacing between them.
- Tray of 18 plugs = 32 sq.ft
- Tray of 36 plugs = 64 sq.ft
- Tray of 72 plugs = 58 sq.ft
2. Prepare the planting area
After you have measured the area that you want to be covered by st. Augustine grass, the next step would be to prepare it and ensure it’s ready for the plugs. If you are replacing a pre-existing lawn, then you’ll need to cut off the sod and clean out the old plantation properly. This will ensure that the st. Augustine’s growth isn’t interrupted mid-way. You can do this by using a sod cutter or rototiller.
Whether starting a new lawn or replacing an old one, a soil test is necessary for both. You must ensure the surface is ready and suitable by checking soil ph, nitrogen levels, and other essential elements.
Another crucial step is to remove weeds from the soil surface. Now, you can use an adequate non-selective herbicide to do this job but remember to wait 2 weeks afterward to allow the herbicide’s effects to dematerialize. If the number of weeds is visibly low, you can also hand-pull them. Pull out the entire root system; otherwise, they’ll pop right back. If there is any thatch (built-up dead tissue) or plant residue on the surface, you’ll need to remove it too.
Preparing the area also includes spreading the fertilizer and watering it properly. By doing so, your st. Augustine will have immediate moisture and establish deep roots more quickly.
3. Plan the pattern and start digging
Deciding a grid pattern for your st. Augustine grass lawn is also a vital part. Grid patterns may range from diamond to checkerboard patterns, but the plugs should be placed equidistantly in all cases.
When it comes to st. Augustine grass, the most effective grid pattern for these plugs is a diamond one.
If you want to form this pattern, you must flag the spots diagonally so that each group of 4 plugs will make a diamond. Flagging the spots beforehand will make the digging process a lot easier.
Once you have planned the grid pattern, it’s time to start digging. Considering that you’ve already flagged the spots in diamond patterns, you need to dig holes properly. Each diamond will be 12 inches apart, and the ones in the middle will be 15 feet apart. This is an acceptable spacing amount, but remember that the closer together they are, the faster they will spread on your landscape.
Another important thing you must remember while digging holes is that it should have the same depth as your st. Augustine grass’s root ball. However, the hole should be slightly larger.
The best way to ensure that your holes are perfectly dug is by using a grass plugging tool, these are generally available in local gardening tools, and you can use them without much effort.
4. Place the plugs
Before going ahead with this important task, it is recommended to water the dug-in holes deeply and saturate the field. You can add fertilizers directly in the holes because the contact will accelerate the root development process.
Now, place each plug in the pre-dug hole and press it firmly for the task at hand. Make sure that the crown of the plug isn’t covered in soil. If the st. augustine grass plug doesn’t seem at level with the surrounding ground, it means that the hole may be extra deep.
Add more soil to fill the space because you want your plug snuggly placed inside. This part is crucial because when plugs are planted too deep in the soil, they become vulnerable to fungi and insects. You want to avoid this because soil-covered crowns can rot and die.
5. Water them deeply
The next step would be to water the plugs and ensure the field is well-irrigated properly. In doing so, make sure that you don’t overdo it. Simply water the plugs sufficiently but not so much that it pools on the surface.
Afterward, water freely every day until the roots have firmly established and started spreading. This period will last for well around 2 weeks, and once they start spreading, you can give them an inch of water per week.
You might need to adjust this in case of rainfall.
6. Monitor them
Taking care of st. Augustine grass plugs after planting them are just as important. Young plants are highly vulnerable to pests and diseases such as chinch bugs. These uninvited occurrences interrupt your plant’s steady growth and threaten to damage it in the early stages. If you want to avoid this from happening, then make sure to keep a close eye on your st. Augustine grass plugs. You’ll need to monitor them regularly and keep a note that mildew or brown spots are among the earliest signs.
The abovementioned method is an extremely easy way to set up your st. Augustine lawn. If you follow it step-by-step, you’re unlikely to make a mistake. If things go right and factors are properly considered, you’ll have a lush and beautiful lawn in no time. Now that you know how to plant st. Augustine grass plugs, let’s discuss some other important things.
How Fast Do St. Augustine Plugs Grow?
Once the newly planted st. Augustine plugs strongly establish their roots on the surface. They’ll begin spreading on their own. This usually takes about 7-14 days, and It is recommended to water as deeply as possible during this time. Proper watering will encourage the plugs to form a deeper root system and grow up more established.
You can decrease the amount of water to once a week when the plugs start spreading. However, grass plugs will take almost a year to grow in your lawn fully.
Phosphorus helps with root growth, so if you want your st. Augustinegrass plugs to spread faster. You’ll need to spread a phosphorus-rich fertilizer on the soil.
What Is The Best Time To Plant St. Augustine Grass Plugs
One of the most common questions people ask is when to plant these plugs. Does the time of the year even matter? When will the best results occur? Let’s find out.
St. Augustine is a warm-season grass that thrives in high temperatures and peaks in hotter months. This grass loves the full sun and grows best under sunlight and heat. After considering all these requirements, it is safe to say that the best time to plant st. augustine grass plugs will be spring (late spring, to be particular) and summer (early summer)
These months are advisable because they are neither excruciatingly hot nor undesirably cool. Even though st Augustine plugs can be planted in the mid-summer, it is certainly not advisable. The heat will evaporate most of the water and leave little behind for the grass. When st. Augustine grass will not receive its sufficient water supply, it will suffer from drought issues, and your responsibilities will increase.
However, late spring has moderately warm weather between 80-100 degrees Fahrenheit. This time is suggested because the grass will have plenty of time to establish itself before the winter months approach and dormancy takes over.
You can also determine the best time by looking at the forecast. Plant these plugs at least 90 days before the first frost is predicted.
How To Maintain Newly Planted St. Augustine Plants
Suppose you have followed the above-listed method for how to plant st. augustine grass plugs. What now? You surely can’t just leave your grass to fend for itself. Maintaining these plugs is extremely significant if you want a well-established lawn.
The maintenance requirements begin once the st. augustine grass plugs reach a mowable height. You’ll notice them carpeting your lawn, but mowing before it looks untidy is better. St. Augustine is one of the fastest-growing grasses, which means that ignorance of maintenance requirements can lead the grass’ growth to get out of hand.
You can use a mower at its highest setting (3-4) inches to cut this grass.
Aside from that, fertilizing the st. Augustine grass, every once in a while, will also encourage vigorous growth and a healthy lawn. Nitrogen aids deep root development, which is why its recommended to use nitrogen fertilizers once every 6-8 weeks
How To Plant St. Augustine Grass Plugs Summary
We hope that this step-by-step guide helped you understand how to plant st. augustine grass plugs. Remember that using plugs as a method to grow st. Augustine grass is only a viable option when sod isn’t a practical choice or when small areas need to be covered.
Planting the plugs isn’t the end of the process. It is just the beginning, so be prepared for the long road ahead.
Make sure to take extra care once the plugs have been planted to establish a dense turf.
We also discussed some of the main queries that come with plug plantation. For instance, we shared detailed information about the best time to plant it, follow-up maintenance, and growth rate. The key takeaway is to plant it the right way at the right time and take proper care afterward.
Did you find this article helpful? Planting the plugs incorrectly can lead to a loss of resources. Share it with your fellow lawn owners and help them out as well.
Meet Mattias Jonsson, the head of content at RainSaucers. Passionate about gardening and water-related topics, he’s dedicated to providing expert information and resources to help improve your home, health, and wallet. Learn from his research and experience.