Does St. Augustine Grass Do Better in Shade or Sun?

For lawn owners in warmer climates, like Florida and a few other southern states, having shade-tolerant grass that can thrive in a shady yard means you don’t have to sacrifice shade from the summer heat for a lush lawn. When it comes to the different types of shade-tolerant grass, St. Augustine Grass and the strains that come from it are typically the best choices for your lawn.

That being said, St. Augustine grass in areas with more shade needs a bit more TLC, as it does grow the best when it gets more sun.

In this blog post, we’ll go through the amount of sunlight St. Augustine typically needed, as well as some tips to grow it in the shade if necessary.

How Many Hours of Sunlight Does St. Augustine Grass Need?

While St. Augustine grass is shade-tolerant, like all plants, it still needs some sunlight to stay alive. Before planting this type of grass in areas that don’t quite get enough sunlight, it’s important to make sure the area gets at least 4 hours of direct or 6 to 8 hours of partial sunlight a day.

Areas with shade cast by trees or anything that lets some sunlight through offer partial sunlight, meaning your grass should get no more than 8 hours of sunlight. If your grass is completely shaded from sunlight, it will likely struggle to grow or grow thinner. 

How Can You Grow St. Augustine Grass in the Shade?

Growing your St. Augustine grass in the shade may take more effort compared to other grasses, but it’s not impossible. Because St. Augustine grows slowly, it needs less nitrogen typically found in fertilizer. It’s important to use a gentle fertilizer to prevent your grass from burning or becoming weak.

Increase Mowing Height

The amount of shade your St. Augustine receives will determine how high or short to cut it. In general, you want to mow higher so there is more surface area for the blades of grass to capture the limited sunlight. You can cut St. Augustine to about four inches depending on the amount of shade it receives. If your grass starts to grow thin at four inches, try letting it grow an extra inch for some improvement. On the other hand, grass in areas with less shade and more sunlight can be cut to 3 or 3.5 inches.

Water Your Lawn Less 

Once you’ve determined how much direct sunlight your grass will get based on its location, you’ll want to make sure it isn’t over-watered. Regularly shaded areas have less water evaporation and as a result need less water to prevent over-watering. If your grass starts showing signs of overwatering, like wet soil that doesn’t dry in a few hours or yellowing grass blades, you’ll want to pull back on the length and amount of times you water your grass on a weekly basis. Consistent over-watering can create the perfect environment for fungal growth, so it’s important to keep an eye out for any signs your lawn needs less to drink.

Use Less Fertilizer 

Compared to other types of grass, St. Augustine grass grows at a slower pace which means it requires smaller amounts of nitrogen than grass that gets more sunlight. If your St. Augustine grass grows in an area with low sunlight, you’ll want to make sure it gets extra potassium. Doing this will help increase your St. Augustine’s ability to keep disease and fungal infections at bay.

Control Weeds Proactively

The shady conditions St. Augustine grass needs to survive is also the perfect environment for a variety of weeds. It’s important to monitor your lawn for any signs of weed growth to prevent crowding out. Pre-emergent herbicides are an effective treatment against weeds before their seeds have had a chance to germinate. Once weeds have taken over, it can take a long time for it to grow back. Staying on top of weed prevention can prevent the frustration associated with having a patchy lawn.

Every lawn is unique, so choosing the right grass that will thrive in your yard can be tricky and take some research. Before committing to any one strain of grass, consult with an expert who can help you set your lawn up for success. Contact Sod Depot to speak to one of our knowledgeable associates. 

What is the Most Shade Tolerant St. Augustine Grass?

While St. Augustine grass can be a good choice if you’re looking for shade-tolerant grass, there are certain strains that are better suited for your shady lawn than others. One common strain of St. Augustine, Floratam, strays from other strains of St. Augustine and will not thrive in the shade.

Meanwhile, Seville, Palmetto Sapphile, and Citrablue are a few St. Augustine strains of grass best suited for lawns with less light. Even though some versions of St. Augustine may prefer more sunlight, all strains of this grass type still have a moderate tolerance to shade compared to other warm weather grasses. 

Let Sod Depot Help

As you can see, there are many things to consider when choosing the right type of sod for your Florida yard. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us, and we’ll be happy to help!