Is St. Augustine Grass Ideal for High-Traffic Lawns?


The warm, humid Florida climate creates an ideal setup for various grass varieties to thrive. However, when selecting the best grass for a lawn, homeowners should consider more than simply climate adaptability. Durability is also a crucial factor, particularly for households with children and pets that subject their lawns to constant heavy foot traffic. A grass variety's resistance to wear and tear should be a key consideration, ensuring your lawn stays dense and green despite regular use.

While St. Augustine grass may not be as traffic-tolerant as other warm-season grasses like Bermuda and Zoysia, it can still effectively handle moderate use in residential lawns. One of its key features is its fast spread, which aids in rapid wear recovery. Further adding to its appeal is its tolerance to shade and saline soils—conditions wherein other grass varieties may not survive long.

What is St. Augustine Grass: An Overview

St. Augustine grass is a perennial warm-season grass variety with a distinctive blue-green color and is widely used in Southern lawns. With its vigorous growth and rapid spread through creeping stolons, it forms a dense turf that can withstand heavy use. While it generally has a coarse texture, this slight drawback is compensated by its ability to endure foot traffic.

Moreover, St. Augustine excels in warm climates, being heat and drought-tolerant. It tolerates moderate shade better than other warm-season grasses, growing well in partial shade—a condition where Bermuda grass may struggle.

It is adapted to moist, coastal areas and grows satisfactorily in saline environments. It also performs well in acidic and alkaline soils. However, it requires well-draining, fertile soil for optimal growth, as it does not tolerate compacted or waterlogged conditions.


Establishing a Traffic-Tolerant Lawn with St. Augustine Plugs

St. Augustine grass is readily available as grass plugs. This method guarantees faster establishment than grass seeds and offers the advantage of better traffic tolerance. Being mature plants with a full-grown root system, they establish a healthy, lush, green lawn that can endure foot traffic in a shorter period.

When planted 9-18 inches apart, St. Augustine grass plugs can cover your lawn in one growing season under favorable conditions. You can successfully plant these plugs any time of the year, provided that water is sufficiently available. Keeping the soil moist during the initial establishment stage is crucial to aid root-to-soil contact. It helps the new grass take root faster and ensures a healthy lawn with deep roots and tough blades.

Best St. Augustine Grass Varieties for Your High-Traffic Lawn

Among the common St. Augustine grass varieties, Floratam and Palmetto are known for their fast-spreading nature, which makes for a dense, durable lawn that can tolerate traffic. Improved and hybrid varieties like CitraBlue® St. Augustine offer even greater tolerance for wear and recover well from injury. They spread fairly rapidly, filling in bare and sparse areas over time.

Meanwhile, ProVista® St. Augustine is highly weed-resistant owing to its dense, uniform growth that effectively chokes out weeds before they can take hold of your lawn. Its slow vertical growth requires less mowing, making it a low-maintenance option for high-traffic yards.


How to Maintain High Traffic Tolerance in Lawns

While selecting the right type of grass is essential, the success of your lawn and its tolerance to wear largely depends on proper lawn maintenance. Proper mowing, regular fertilizing, and adequate watering are key to promoting dense growth and strong roots and ensuring your grass stays lush and resilient against heavy foot traffic.


How fast your St. Augustine lawn grows depends on factors like weather, moisture, and nutrient availability. As a warm-season grass, it grows most actively from late spring to early fall. With the relatively mild winters in Florida, it may not fully go dormant, but its growth rate may decline with lower temperatures. Therefore, instead of following a set schedule, mow based on your lawn's growth rates while adhering to the one-third rule: never remove more than one-third of the grass length at a time to avoid scalping and unnecessary stress on the grass.


The most common source of damage in high-traffic areas is compacted soil. Over time, the pressure from foot traffic and equipment compresses the soil, making it more difficult for grasses to spread their roots. Without strong, deep roots, plants develop a weak, shallow root system that is more susceptible to pests and diseases. Keeping your soil loose is key to keeping your grass healthy. The best way to achieve this is by aerating the soil 1-2 times a year at the start of the growing season. This practice facilitates deep root growth, helping your lawn stay lush and resilient to heavy traffic.


Repairing a Traffic-Damaged Lawn with SodPods®

While St. Augustine grass may not be the absolute best grass for high-traffic lawns, it can definitely withstand wear and tear with proper care and maintenance. It thrives where other warm-season grasses may struggle, making it a better alternative for high-traffic areas requiring a shade-tolerant grass type. With adequate lawn maintenance practices, you can enjoy a lush, green St. Augustine lawn that can maintain its lush green look despite heavy traffic.

In the event of inevitable damage, you can leave small bare patches to self-repair. Alternatively, you can fill them in with SodPods® grass plugs to speed up recovery. For best results, we recommend using NutriPod® grass fertilizer, specifically formulated for planting grass plugs. As a slow-release fertilizer, the granules are encased in a dissolvable pod, dissolving slowly to provide a gradual and steady release of nutrients. It helps your new grass plugs establish and accelerate growth up to two times faster.

Establish a high-traffic lawn with St. Augustine grass plugs today. Visit the SodPods website to shop for a wide range of warm-season grass plugs and other lawn care essentials.

Jamie Tedder

Jamie surrently serve as Vice President on the board for Turfgrass Producers of Florida. He currently oversees the production of all grasses throughout all farms in Florida at Bethel Farms. He is actively working with top grass breeders, researchers, producers and end users from public and private institutions around the country to stay up to date on current industry developments. Being a University of Florida graduate, he has applied that knowledge to over 22 years of experience growing spectacular grass!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published