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St. Augustine Grass: How to Keep Up a Healthy Lawn During the Summer in Orange County

What is St. Augustine Grass?

St. Augustine is a type of warm-season grass that is a popular choice for yards in Orange County. This type of grass is known for its lush, carpet-like appearance and ability to thrive in tropical climates. From early spring into the hot summer months, it’s crucial to understand how to care for your St. Augustine turfgrass to keep it healthy and vibrant throughout the hot season. This guide will provide you with essential tips to maintain your lawn’s beauty and resilience.

Also keep in mind, when considering different grasses, that most places online will say that Bermuda or Zoysia grasses are better in terms of drought-resistance and toughness to foot-traffic.  However, what people often fail to understand is that both of these grasses often grow better in sandy soils, while the St. Augustine grass type will grow exceptionally well in the clay and loamy soil of Orange County.

Sod Watering Tips For a Healthy Lawn During the Summer

Proper watering is key to a healthy yard, especially during summer. The best time to water your sod is early morning, ideally before 10 AM. The need to water at this time helps reduce water loss due to evaporation and minimizes the risk of fungal diseases. Early morning watering allows the grass to dry throughout the day, promoting overall health.

When it comes to watering depth, your sod needs 1-1.5 inches of water per week, including any rainfall in the summer months. This amount ensures that water reaches the grass’s root system, encouraging deep root growth and making your lawn more resilient to drought and heat stress. Use a rain gauge or place a shallow container on your lawn while watering to measure the amount accurately.

Overwatering can be just as harmful as underwatering. Signs of overwatering include the appearance of mushrooms, excessive thatch buildup, and a spongy feel when walking on the grass. If you notice these signs, adjust your watering schedule and allow the soil to dry out between watering sessions.

On the other hand, underwatering also has distinct signs. Look for curled grass blades, which indicate water stress. Another telltale sign is when footprints remain visible long after someone has walked across the grass. Additionally, underwatered St. Augustine grass may take on a blue-gray color instead of its usual vibrant green. If you notice these signs, increase the frequency or duration when you water your lawn to provide adequate moisture.

Mowing Practices

The ideal mowing height for St. Augustine grass is between 2.5 to 4 inches tall. Maintaining this height is crucial for the health and appearance of your lawn. Cutting the grass at this height allows for better photosynthesis, which strengthens the roots and helps the grass withstand drought and heat stress. It also provides enough shade to the soil, reducing water evaporation and discouraging weed growth.

As for mowing frequency, aim to mow your St. Augustine lawn once a week during peak growing seasons, typically late spring through early fall. However, be prepared to adjust this schedule based on your lawn’s growth rate. During periods of rapid growth, you might need to mow more frequently to maintain the ideal height. Conversely, during slower growth periods or drought conditions, you may need to reduce mowing frequency to avoid stressing the grass and causing damage.

Mulching your grass clippings can provide significant benefits to your lawn. Instead of bagging and removing them, leave the grass clippings on the lawn after mowing. These clippings quickly decompose, returning valuable nutrients to the soil. This natural fertilization process can provide up to 25% of your sod’s nutrient needs, reducing the amount of synthetic fertilizer required. Additionally, mulching helps retain soil moisture and can improve soil structure over time, contributing to a healthier, more resilient lawn.

Summer Lawn Care for Heat Stress

Heat stress can take a toll on your St. Augustine sod during hot Orange County summers. Signs of heat stress include wilting, where the grass blades appear limp or folded, even when the soil is moist. You may also notice discoloration, with the vibrant green fading to a dull gray-green or you might even start to see brown patches. In severe cases, grass blades may become crispy and brittle to the touch. These symptoms indicate that your lawn is struggling to cope with the intense heat and requires immediate attention.

To minimize damage from heat stress, increase your watering frequency, while still giving your lawn time to absorb the water. Be careful not to overwater – the goal is to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water deeply in the early morning to encourage deep root growth and help the grass better withstand high temperatures. It’s also crucial to avoid foot traffic on stressed areas of the turf grass. Walking on heat-stressed grass can cause further damage, as the blades are more brittle and susceptible to damage. If possible, limit activity on the lawn during the hottest parts of the day.

When it comes to recovery from heat stress, patience and proper care are key. Water the lawn deeply but less frequently to encourage roots to grow deeper in search of moisture. Avoid fertilizing until the lawn shows signs of recovery, as the additional nutrients can stress the already struggling grass. Instead, consider applying a light layer of compost to improve soil structure and provide gentle nourishment. This can help restore soil health and support the lawn’s recovery. As the weather cools and with consistent care, your St. Augustine sod should bounce back from heat stress.

Weed Management

Summer in Orange County often brings unwelcome visitors to your grass in the form of weeds. Common culprits include crabgrass, which spreads rapidly in warm weather and can form thick mats that crowd out your grass. Nutsedge, recognizable by its bright green color and triangular stem, can be particularly troublesome as it’s resistant to many herbicides. Dandelions, with their distinctive yellow flowers and fluffy seedheads, can also pop up in your lawn during the summer months. These weeds compete with your St. Augustine grass for water, nutrients, and sunlight, potentially weakening your lawn.

When it comes to controlling these weeds, it’s crucial to use methods that are safe for St. Augustine grass. Look for herbicides specifically labeled as safe for use on St. Augustine lawns. These products are formulated to target weeds without harming your grass. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to avoid damaging the lawn. For a more eco-friendly approach, consider hand-pulling weeds. This method is particularly effective for larger weeds like dandelions. Be sure to remove the entire root to prevent regrowth. While more time-consuming, hand-pulling ensures that no harmful chemicals are introduced to your lawn.

Prevention is the best strategy for long-term weed control in your turf. Maintaining a dense, healthy lawn is your best defense against weed invasion. Proper mowing practices, such as keeping your lawn at the recommended height of 2.5-4 inches, can help shade the soil and prevent weed seeds from germinating. Regular fertilization, tailored to your lawn’s needs and the Orange County climate, will keep your grass strong and better able to outcompete weeds. Additionally, avoid overwatering, as excess moisture can create conditions favorable for weed growth. By focusing on overall lawn health, you can naturally minimize weed problems and maintain a beautiful St. Augustine lawn throughout the summer.

Where to Get St. Augustine Turf in Orange County

When it comes to sourcing high-quality St. Augustine sod for your Orange County lawn, look no further than Quality Turf in San Jacinto, CA. Our farm takes pride in cultivating lush, healthy St. Augustine grass that is perfectly suited for the region’s climate. Our experienced team carefully tends to the sod, ensuring it meets the highest standards before harvesting and delivering it fresh to your doorstep.

At Quality Turf, we understand the importance of starting with premium sod for a successful lawn installation. Our St. Augustine grass is grown locally, allowing it to adapt to the unique growing conditions in Orange County. By choosing Quality Turf, you can feel confident that your new lawn will establish quickly and maintain its vibrancy with proper care.

In addition to our top-grade sod, Quality Turf also offers expert guidance on installation and maintenance. Our knowledgeable staff is always available to answer questions and provide tailored recommendations to ensure your St. Augustine lawn thrives in the Orange County climate. With Quality Turf as your partner, you’ll have everything you need to create and maintain the lush, inviting outdoor space of your dreams.

Conclusion

Proper sod maintenance in Orange County during summer requires attention to watering, mowing, fertilization, and stress management. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to maintaining a lush, healthy lawn that can withstand the challenges of the summer season. Remember, a little extra care goes a long way in preserving the beauty of your St. Augustine grass.

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