In the Fescue vs. St. Augustine grass argument, most people tend to wonder which one is better for your lawn. Fescue grass is suitable for long-term resilience against climate change and other effects, while St. Augustine is better if you want less time mowing your lawn. We’ll explain their strengths and drawbacks to help you determine which grass is best for your lawn or garden.
Differences Between Fescue vs. St. Augustine Grass
Fescue is More Insect Resistant
When comparing the two grass types, fescue grass is better at dealing with insect swarms and infestations. The St. Augustine grass can receive clinch bugs which can cause brown spots on your lawn.
To test if clinch bugs are present, place a white sheet of paper near the brown spots on your lawn. The clinch bugs will run towards that area. Alternatively, you can use pesticides to kill the bugs, which are more effective if you have a larger lawn.
St. Augustine Grass is Easier to Mow
Even though the St. Augustine grass might appear to be high-maintenance, you’ll speed less time mowing it than fescue grass. Keep the grass between 3-4 inches tall and trim it every 2 to 4 weeks. By regularly mowing your St. Augustine grass, you give it room to grow its roots and remain healthy.
In addition, you can leave the clippings on your lawn during the warmer months. This acts as a natural fertilizer and will help it grow better than chemical fertilizers.
Fescue Surveys the Cold Season
Go for fescue grass if you want a grass that will retain color during the winter. In the winter season, that’s when you can water and feed them so they can survive during the summer season. Thus, St. Augustine is better for the summer, while fescue is better for colder climates.
What is Fescue Grass?
Fescue grass is a cool-season, perennial grass with drought, cold, and heat tolerance. The grass is a popular choice for lawn owners within the northern region. However, it is suited for areas that experience both hot and cold seasons.
Another reason why fescue grass is attractive to lawn owners is due to its low maintenance. Fescue grass has roots that are good at obtaining nutrients from your soil. Because of this, the grass requires fewer fertilizer applications than other forms of cool-season grasses.
How to Grow Fescue Grass?
To plant tall fescue grass, you’ll want to do it at a temperature ranging from 60-65°F. If you’re planting it during the fall, give your soil time to cool within this range. Your grass will receive spring and fall rains by planting during these optimal times. This means less maintenance and supplemental watering on your end.
Before planting any fescue grass seeds, take time to measure the lawn’s seeding area. Consider getting a drop spreader for lawns under 5,000 feet or for more precision seeding. You can use a rotary spreader if you have a larger lawn that requires less precision.
After the fescue grass seed is planted, use a rake, so that ¼ inch of soil covers the seed. This creates an ample amount of light penetration and protection. Then use a lawn roller to ensure good soil-to-sed contact.
Benefits of Growing Fescue Grass
Stays Green Throughout the Year
Fescue grass has become so popular due to its ability to stay green even in harsh climates. This grass can grow through a wide section of the US and has the most growth within the mid regions. When in the lawn’s soil, fescue grass stays green during the dd4444summer and has a pale green appearance during the winter.
Since fescue is a cool-season grass, it has a higher shade tolerance because of it. Cool grasses such as the Kentucky Bluegrass rely on direct sunlight to grow. Fescue grass’ ability to thrive in the shade is one of the reasons why you’ll see it in nearly every grass mix in stores.
Heat and Drought Resilience
Fescue grass grows in deep root systems, giving it more durability against drought and hot weather conditions. The roots can go as long as 2-3 deep, giving the grass more access to water and other nutrients other grasses cannot reach.
Fescue grass remains green due to its ability to retain nutrients regardless of the season. For example, it will still obtain nutrients from the ground during a dry season because of its ability to stick within the soil for extended periods. In addition, its roots stay deep within the ground longer than other grass types within the US.
Insects are a common pest that can destroy your lawn if untreated. Fortunately, fescue grass doesn’t require as many pesticides because it already shows strong resistance to them.
In fact, fine fescue grass is reported to be unbothered by insect activity. This happens because of its bond with endophytes, which are used to prevent insects from infesting your lawn.
Disadvantages of Growing Fescue Grass
Toxic to Nearby Plants
You’ll find that fescue grass is not friendly to the plant seedlings around it. This means it is allelopathic, meaning that it’s a plant that sits in the soil and negatively affects the growth of other plants.
When growing, fescue plants compete with other grasses in the water. And it has to overcome the toxins made. So make sure you apply a sufficient amount of fescue grass over time and keep it away from plants that might negatively affect the grass.
If it grows and spreads at a fast rate, your grass will form a mat environment and won’t be able to accept newer seeds being planted. Even if the seed does appear to show signs of growth, it can damage your plants.
Weak in Wet Conditions
Fescue grass is highly durable, but you’ll find that it does have its weak spots. For example, grass is more susceptible to diseases when it is wet. Because of this, you’ll want to have a lawn that has good soil drain control.
While using fungal or pesticide treatment is a good option, you can avoid most issues if you are aware of your lawn’s progress. This means you should check your lawn regularly to ensure that it is not affected by pests or diseases.
What is St. Augustine Grass?
St. Augustine grass is a warm-season grass that requires less mowing than other grasses. Since it belongs to the Poaceae family, it’s recognized as a true grass. It is recognizable through its blue-green leaves and its dense habit that makes the grass form dense mats.
The grass spreads through stolons and has flat and wide blades. In addition, St. Augustine grass is more salt-tolerant, making it suitable for lawn owners that live alongside the coast.
St. Augustine grass is usually propagated through sod plugs. This is the form that retailers or turf farms sell to landscapers and homeowners. Since St. Augustine grass has stolons, it takes the grassless time to spread throughout the lawn.
How to Grow St. Augustine Grass
You can grow St. Augustine grass in zones 7-12. During the growing season, place the sod at least 1-2 feet away from each other and water them regularly. Due to its fast growth rate, St. Augustine grass will grow at a rate to fill in the grass patches during its first year.
Rarely will you find a way to grow St. Augustine grass in seed form. However, if you’re lucky to find the seed, sow it between the late spring to early summer. Sow the seed at ½ or ⅓ lb seed bag per 1,000 feet. When planting, make sure that the ground is moist until the grass is moist and is ready to spread.
You don’t want St. Augustine grass to remain too dry or waterlogged in regards to water. As a lawn owner, your goal is to keep it within a balanced amount for optimal growth results. Giving St. Augustine grass around ½ inch of water a week will aid in growth while preventing it from experiencing additional damage.
Benefits of Growing St. Augustine Grass
St. Augustine grass is known for its durability and quick recovery. It can handle a moderate level of foot traffic and grows faster when planted on nutrient-rich soil. The grass creates a deep turf layer, especially on the soil level. Due to these factors, St. Augustine grass is good at choking out weeds that will damage the quality of your garden.
St. Augustine grass becomes green during the winter with its deep green color. It is able to retain this color until the Fall season after the first signs of frost. If a group of leaves protects the grass, it will retain its color during colder months. St. Augustine grass can hold onto its color during drought season better than other grasses.
Grows in the Sade
If your lawn has a shady area that needs more grass, St. Augustine is the best type to choose from. The grass will perform better in moderate shade than other grass types. Since it has a high salt tolerance, St. Augustine grass can grow in coastal environments.
St. Augustine grass grows on dense turf and warm seasons. This is where the grass grows strong enough to protect itself from weeds and handle a normal amount of foot traffic.
Disadvantages of Growing St. Augustine Grass
Requires More Maintenance
St. Augustine grass grows rapidly through the use of runners or above-ground stolons. On the other hand, the grass requires more maintenance than fescue grass. In fact, St. Augustine grass requires monthly fertilizer if grown on sandy soil.
If the soil has a high pH value, it will need more micronutrient supplements and iron to survive. You’ll have to cut it at a height between 3 and 4 inches. Cutting it too low will lead to thatch, while cutting too much will thin the grass.
Low Winter Resistance
St. Augustine is more susceptible to Winter Kill than Fescue grass. Multiple climate conditions lead up to Winter Kill, such as: moisture levels, wind, snow/ice on the grass, and low temperatures.
These conditions won’t occur in the correct combination most of the time. But when it does occur, your grass will become damaged at the cellular level and will fail to become green during the spring.
Susceptible to Viruses
St. Augustine grass is known to experience SAD (St. Augustine Grass) decline. You can spot early signs of this disease when the grass starts molting, and your lawn has a yellow appearance.
Grass will show mild signs for a few years, but the blades will become thinner once it progresses. In severe cases, you’ll notice your St. Augustine grass getting overtaken by the weeds on your lawn.
The SAD disease can be spread through lawnmowers and other equipment. While some St. Augustine grass types are resistant to this disease, no chemical cures are present. Thus, making St. Augustine a high-maintenance grass that you’ll have to protect from external diseases and threats.
How are Fescue and St. Augustine Grass Similar?
Both Fescue and St. Augustine grass are perennial grass. This means that both grass types can live longer than two years. They are different than annual plants because they are plants that grow during the spring.
Perennial grass can bloom within a single season, create seeds in the same year and die during the winter. This process is repeated throughout the grass’s entire life cycle, making it good for cold and warm environments.
Plus, both kinds of grass tend to spread fast. This is great for lawn owners who want to see quick results after planting their grass seeds. Because of these similarities, both Fescue and St. Augustine grass are optimal choices if you want a lawn that’s easy to maintain.
While both are known for their pest resistance, you’ll want to watch your lawn. Since they are both perennials, you might want to clean the plants and remove the foilage to give them more room for growth. Check for pruning instructions to ensure that your grass is cut properly.