Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass are both excellent warm-season lawn grasses. You’d select these if you live in a hot climate and want a nice lawn. Some people choose to seed or sod with only one of the turfgrasses, while others blend the two.
Bermuda grass is drought-tolerant and can withstand hot weather in the late summer, such as in Central Texas without water, whereas St. Augustine grass needs a lot of water to thrive. Another significant distinction is that St. Augustine is shade-tolerant, whereas Bermuda grass does not thrive in shady regions.
In our guide, you can learn why does St Augustine grass runners on top when St Augustine spreads? By the end, you’ll know much more about lawn issues you could face with St Augustine runners above ground in a thin layer, if any, during the growing season. (Read Can You Spray Roundup After Rain)
Why Does My St. Augustine Grass Have Runners?
Loops are a problem for Saint Augustine grasses because runners grow at the bottom of the soil or water but don’t remain linked. Excessive spring cutting and nutritional deficits in the soil have been blamed.
Stolons, or above-ground runners, are used to propagate St. Augustine grass. These stolons run parallel to the ground surface. They will produce roots that grow into the soil underneath then produce new grass.
You can spot St. Augustine runners with a bare lawn you recently planted St. Augustine seeds that are sprouting and spreading.
These lateral runners emerge from the growing grass and grow for several feet, producing new roots and grass blades at regular intervals.
While St. Augustine stolons are common on lawns with sparse areas, many homeowners are surprised to see these runners growing on top of their fully developed turfgrass. Because they grow so near the ground surface, these runners can be challenging to spot in fully established St. Augustine lawns.
If you see St. Augustine grass runners on your turfgrass, it signifies the little roots they’re growing can’t penetrate the soil and adhere to the ground. This is mainly due to a problem with soil compaction. As a result, the ‘floating’ stolons stiffen and rise to the turf’s surface rather than remaining close to the soil surface. Looping is the term for this phenomenon.
Looping can be caused by excessive thatching between the topsoil and the base of the blades in St. Augustine lawns. It could signify that your lawn needs to be dethatched, and you need core aeration. (Learn How To Remove Pine Needles From Lawn)
How Do You Get Rid of St. Augustine Runners?
With sanders, you may cut the turf into strips that can be readily removed. Next, cut the lawn into manageable squares with a shovel.
You can mow the lawn if you have a looping problem and need to get rid of the unattractive runners that are growing throughout your St. Augustine lawn right away.
If you don’t want to remove too many grass blades while focusing on the runners above them, mowing as high as possible is a smart alternative.
Mowing is only a temporary fix, as the looping problem may develop after a few weeks.
As a result, if you want to get rid of runners that are growing on top of the turfgrass for good, you need to address the underlying issue that is causing them to grow so high above grade level.
This could be due to soil compaction or too much thatch. Aerate the soil to soften up hard-packed lawn soil and make it simpler for tiny roots to anchor. A core aerator, which rips out plugs of topsoil to loosen it up, is typically used for aeration.
Meanwhile, if a coating of organic materials on your lawn soil prevents the stolons from forming roots, you can stop thatch development by raking it off.
The lateral runners will take root in the soil after aerating or dethatching your St. Augustine lawn and will grow closer to the ground surface, hidden by the longer grass blades.
Can You Grow St. Augustine Grass From Runners?
Replanting a new lawn from St. Augustine runners from one area to another or barren patches on the same lawn is conceivable. Plant the St. Augustine stolons separately in the new space, leaving the crown and little roots intact. Sprigging is the technique. Sprigging is cheaper than sodding because you don’t need to buy stolons. Instead, you can get them from your own or a friend’s St. Augustine lawn. (Learn How To Get Rid Of Goat Head Stickers In Your Yard)
A spade is the best tool for planting St. Augustine sprigs. Step on the soil to cover the ground opening and insert the cut-out end of a single sprig.
Aftercare includes watering the sprigged lawn every day for the first week at a rate of at least 0.5 inches per day. After the sprigs have taken root, usually after two weeks, cut the irrigation frequency to twice per week, applying no more than an inch of water per week.
Remember that sprigging a St. Augustine lawn is more difficult than sodding, plugging, or spreading St. Augustine seeds.
However, with careful site preparation and pot maintenance, you should be able to grow a total, lush St. Augustine turf from the sprigs you plant. Preparation of the site includes aeration to ease soil compaction and weed control with a lawn weed killer.
It usually takes two weeks for newly transplanted St. Augustine runners to establish soil systems and grow and spread.
However, unlike Bermuda grass sprigs, St. Augustine runners spread slowly. This is because they only have stolons, unlike the latter species, with stolons and underground rhizomes.
Compared to sprigs with only stolons, rhizomes allow more vigorous and faster spreading. However, consistent irrigation and mowing at the right height can help your St. Augustine runners grow and spread faster.
How to Care for St. Augustine Grass
The region’s most popular grass, St. Augustine grass, is a southern favorite.
Stenotaphrum secundatum (St. Augustine grass in the US) is a tropical grass that thrives in hot, humid regions. St. Augustine grass vines have a coarse texture that suits residential and commercial lawns. However, its low wear tolerance makes it unsuitable for sports fields and golf courses.
St. Augustine grass thrives well in the Deep South, especially around the coasts, because of its salt tolerance. In addition, it tolerates shade well, making it perfect for shady lawns.
St. Augustine is best started vegetatively and planted as sod, which needs to be watered carefully as the roots grow.
To propagate the “mother” plant, stolons (also known as runners) emerge and root. St. Augustine grass goes dormant when the soil temperatures drop below 55°F but stays green year-round above 60°F.
St. Augustine grass has low wear tolerance yet holds up well in routine household lawn traffic. However, the rough roughness bothers some homeowners and business owners. St. Augustine grass requires watering to stay green. SAD (a virus) and chinch bugs are pests that harm this grass.
A condition where runners grow many feet long on the surface or in the air without touching the soil occurs in St. Augustine grass.
It’s supposed to be caused by not mowing at the proper height (low mowing), spring pre-emergent spray, or soil nutrient deficiency.
In some circumstances, looping these unsightly runners is temporary and may correct itself, but vertical mowing may be required in others.
Proper watering is critical for St. Augustine cultivars, which require three to four inches of soil early in the morning. Watering properly encourages root growth and longevity.
When your home lawns grass turns blue-green, or your normal traffic footsteps don’t disappear immediately after strolling on the lawn, you need to water your front yard turf.
Three to four inches is preferred for most St. Augustine cultivars, though Amerishade can be mowed shorter. Sharp blades are necessary for mowing as dull blades rip the grass and induce browning.
St. Augustine grass requires 4 to 5 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet to maintain healthy fertilization. Starting fertilization requires one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per month. In the spring, a thin layer of compost will also be welcome by your lawns.
The chinch bug is the major insect threat to St. Augustine grass, as it pierces the grass and suckers the juice out, poisoning it.
Chinch insect damage usually happens in spring. However, some chinch bugs have gained resistance to insecticides.
Like sod webworms, grasshoppers, and mole crickets, several other insect insects exist.
Deterrents for grub worms like Bacillus Thuringensis and Mach 2 with halofenozide work well.
Root rot, brown patch, and grey leaf spot are common diseases of St. Augustine Grass. Others like Bayleton Fungicide and Daconil will help, as can ensuring sure your soil is well-drained.
St. Augustine grass runners above ground also suffer from the organic matter between the soil and the grass. Again, over fertilization of too much top dressing can lead to this.
Agricultural limestone reduces acidity and fixes soil pH problems, thus also helping avoid thatch growth. In addition, vertical mowing and an organic layer of top dressing can help remove thatch.