As a warm season grass popular across the southern United States, St. Augustine thrives in hot, humid climates. But like any lawn, it still needs adequate moisture to stay green and healthy through scorching summer heat. Proper watering is crucial for St. Augustine grass to spread and flourish.
As an avid gardener and lawn care enthusiast in zone 9B, I’ve experimented to determine just how often to water St. Augustine for optimal results. Over time, I developed an effective seasonal watering schedule tailored to my grass type and local conditions.
In this article, I’ll share what I’ve learned about ideal St. Augustine grass watering frequency, when to water during the day, signs your lawn is thirsty, and how to establish a consistent irrigation routine. You’ll find tips to help keep your St. Augustine lawn lush and vibrant all year long with the right hydration. From setting up in-ground systems to hand watering methods, I’ll cover everything you need to know about watering newly laid sod or mature St. Augustine grass.
Let’s dive in to mastering when and how much to quench your St. Augustine lawn’s thirst! Proper watering is the key to a gorgeously green yard.
How Frequently Should You Water St. Augustine Grass?
Determining the ideal watering frequency for St. Augustine grass requires considering several factors that influence lawn hydration needs. Over the years, through trial and error of under-and-over watering, I’ve dialed in a schedule that keeps my St. Augustine yard green and thriving.
Elements That Affect St. Augustine Grass Watering Frequency
The main aspects that dictate how often you should water St. Augustine lawns include:
- Climate – Hotter and more arid environments require more frequent irrigation than humid climates. Adjust for your local weather patterns.
- Season – Watering needs increase during the intense heat of summer compared to cooler spring and fall months.
- Sun Exposure – St. Augustine in full sun dries out quicker than shaded areas, needing more watering.
- Soil Type – Sandy soils require more frequent watering to offset drainage. Clay soils hold moisture longer.
- Grass Variety – Newer drought-tolerant cultivars are less thirsty than traditional St. Augustine types.
- Sprinkler Coverage – Patchy irrigation necessitates more watering sessions to sufficiently saturate all areas.
- Rainfall – Natural rainfall can fulfill some or all lawn watering needs during wet periods.
Recommended Watering Frequency for St. Augustine Grass
On average, St. Augustine grass needs about 1-1.5 inches of water per week from irrigation during the growing season to stay green and healthy. To reach this volume, plan to water 3-4 times per week.
During the hottest, driest months, I’ve found watering my St. Augustine daily in the early morning to be ideal. This maintains consistent soil moisture. Reduce to 2-3x weekly during cooler months.
Proper watering frequency ensures deep water penetration to grass roots without runoff. Infrequent deep soakings promote shallow root growth vulnerable to drying.
When to Water St. Augustine Grass During the Day?
In addition to watering frequency, proper timing of St. Augustine grass irrigation is key for lawn health. Through learning the hard way, I’ve figured out the optimal time of day to water.
Water St. Augustine Early in the Morning
Without question, the best time to water St. Augustine grass is early morning, before 10am. Doing so allows the lawn to take advantage of the full day’s worth of sunlight ahead to dry from any excess moisture.
Early watering also prevents fungal disease issues that can arise from leaves remaining damp for prolonged periods. In my experience, 8-9am is ideal to fully hydrate the lawn before the day heats up. At this time, evaporation rates are lowest so more water penetrates the soil.
Avoid Midday and Evening Watering
Midday is the worst time for St. Augustine irrigation. Intense sunlight and heat cause much of the water to evaporate before the grass can absorb it through the roots. Watering in the heat of the afternoon is inefficient and wasteful.
Late day watering of St. Augustine is also problematic, as extended wetness overnight can lead to fungal issues like brown patch. I learned this lesson after losing patches of turf.
While St. Augustine can tolerate occasional evening watering, it’s best avoided on a regular basis. Let the grass dry fully before night falls to prevent disease.
The takeaway is water St. Augustine grass early in the AM to maximize efficiency and give the lawn ample sunny hours to dry. This avoids wasted water and potential turf diseases from overnight dampness. Set your sprinklers or irrigation system to run between 8-10am if possible. Your grass will thank you with vigorous growth!
Signs Your St. Augustine Lawn Needs More Water
Aside from following a consistent watering schedule, it’s important to monitor your St. Augustine lawn for signs it needs additional hydration between regular irrigation. Over time, I’ve learned to spot subtle clues my grass is thirsty.
Checking Soil Moisture Levels
The best way I’ve found to gauge whether my St. Augustine lawn needs more frequent watering is to regularly check the moisture level of the soil beneath the grass. I use a soil probe tool inserted 6 inches down to extract a core sample and feel if the soil is still damp.
You can also employ the screwdriver test, sticking the tool into the ground. If it slides in easily, the dirt is still moist. If not, it’s time to water.
Look for Drought Stress Signs
In addition to soil probing, visual cues can indicate your St. Augustine is not getting sufficient water. Early drought stress signs include:
- Blue-gray coloration
- Wilted, curled, or folded blades
- Footprints remain compressed after walking on the lawn
- Slower than normal growth rate
These are signals to immediately increase watering frequency before severe drought stress damages the turf. Ignoring early indicators can lead to costly bare patches.
Whenever you notice multiple symptoms of thirst, don’t wait – provide a thorough rehydration even if it’s not your scheduled day. Paying attention helps prevent decline.
In summary, regularly check soil moisture and be on the lookout for drought indicators between normal waterings. This allows you to properly hydrate your St. Augustine grass and avoid under-watering damage. My system empowers you to keep your lawn lush!
Establishing a Routine for Watering St. Augustine Grass
Once you know how often and when to water your St. Augustine grass, establishing a reliable watering routine is key to maintaining a healthy lawn. I’ve incorporated both irrigation systems and hand watering in my process over the years.
Automating Your St. Augustine Irrigation
Investing in an in-ground sprinkler system offers the ultimate convenience for irrigating St. Augustine grass on a consistent schedule. These tips will help maximize your system:
- Inspect spray coverage and adjust heads to eliminate dry spots or overlap.
- Check timers and set watering duration for 1/2 – 3/4 inch per session.
- Consider smart controllers that automatically adjust for weather.
- Inspect for leaks and malfunctioning heads preventing water waste.
- Adjust settings seasonally as watering needs increase or decrease.
Properly installed and maintained, automated systems provide hassle-free St. Augustine watering. Just be sure to inspect grass and soil periodically in case manual supplementation is needed.
Hand Watering Methods
For smaller lawns or until you can install a sprinkler system, hand watering works well. To ensure proper coverage:
- Use a nozzle with fan spray pattern on your hose-end.
- Water early AM before heat builds.
- Move sprinkler every 15 mins to avoid runoff and penetrate soil.
- Allow a day or two between hand watering sessions for absorption.
The key with hand watering is thorough, even coverage. Don’t just sprinkle the surface. Let the water soak deeply over multiple moves.
Whether you choose automated or manual irrigation, proper techniques will keep your St. Augustine grass gracefully green even in scorching summers. Consistent watering rewards you with vigorous, enviable turf.
Frequently Asked Questions on Watering St. Augustine Grass
When it comes to watering St. Augustine grass, I often get asked similar questions by homeowners looking to master lawn irrigation. Here I’ll address some frequently asked topics around properly hydrating St. Augustine turf.
How Much Water Does St. Augustine Grass Need Per Week?
During peak growing seasons, St. Augustine generally requires 1-1.5 inches of water per week, whether from rainfall or supplemental irrigation, to stay green and healthy. To put it another way, during hot, dry periods, plan to water a St. Augustine lawn to the depth of about 6-9 gallons per square yard each week.
I recommend using empty tuna cans to measure sprinkler output and run times. 1/2 inch of water depth accumulates in 30 minutes under typical systems. Adjust your watering schedule to hit the weekly volume target based on your grass, climate and season.
Should I Water My St. Augustine Lawn Every Day?
Watering St. Augustine grass lightly every day is not recommended. Frequent shallow watering encourages shallow root growth vulnerable to drying out. Instead, aim to water more heavily 2-3 times per week, allowing the soil to partially dry between sessions.
During peak summer heat, I sometimes water daily IF the volume is adequate to penetrate the soil deeply. But in general, it’s best to water on an infrequent, deep-soak schedule for stronger roots.
Is It Okay to Water St. Augustine at Night?
Ideally, water St. Augustine in the early morning hours. However, occasional night watering won’t harm the grass as long as you allow the blades to fully dry before temperatures drop at night. Prolonged moisture can lead to fungal disease.
So in summary, deep-soak St. Augustine grass 2-3 times per week, target 1-1.5 inches total weekly, and stick to morning irrigation if possible. Proper water volume and timing are the keys to success! Let me know if you have any other questions.
Conclusion: Keep Your St. Augustine Lawn Healthy with Proper Watering
Properly watering your St. Augustine lawn is fundamental to growing a lush, verdant turf. By following the tips I’ve outlined in this article, you can establish an effective irrigation routine tailored to your grass type and local conditions.
The key takeaways around watering frequency include:
- Water 3-4 times per week during peak seasons, reducing in cooler weather.
- Target 1-1.5 inches of water across sessions for optimal health.
- Check soil and drought signs between waterings to supplement as needed.
For timing, I recommend:
- Watering St. Augustine in the early morning hours.
- Avoiding midday and evening irrigation that wastes water.
- Allowing leaf blades to dry fully before nightfall.
Additionally, incorporate these best practices:
- Automated sprinkler systems provide convenience but require maintenance.
- When hand watering, ensure thorough, even coverage.
- Adjust your schedule and volumes through the seasons.
- Repair any leaks immediately to avoid waste.
By closely following my tips to properly hydrate your St. Augustine grass, you’ll be rewarded with a lush, envy-worthy lawn that maintains its vibrant green color even in the dog days of summer. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any other questions before getting started! I’m always happy to help fellow lawn care enthusiasts.