How To Scarify St. Augustine Grass [7 Easy Steps] | pepper house and garden (2023)

Use a vertical lawn mower to cut the St. Augustine in the spring. This process removes excess straw from the lawn, making it easier for the grass to absorb nutrients from the fertilizer and water. Too much straw will smother your St. Augustine grass and invite diseases that can wipe out entire sections of your lawn.

Once removed, use a core aerator to loosen the soil in your garden. Then apply fertilizer to help your grass recover from the stress of de-mulching and aerating. Complete spring lawn care with a St. Augustine and regular cut.

How To Scarify St. Augustine Grass [7 Easy Steps] | pepper house and garden (1)


7 steps to scarifying your St. Augustine garden

Dispose of at the right time

Detach St. Augustine in the spring when the grass came outhibernation, greenish and grown enough to be cut.

  • Scarify in spring, between March and May.
  • After the spring greens, when your lawn has been mowed at least once.
  • Do not remove in autumn or winter. This could seriously harm St. Augustine.

Removing leaves puts stress on the grass plants in your lawn. With spring straw harvesting, your St. Augustine will have the entire growing season to regenerate the soil and fill in the lawn. A St. Augustine lawn that is uprooted in the fall or winter will have a hard time recovering and may die in places.

Make sure your St. Augustine needs to be removed

How do you know if your lawn needs to be removed? Find out with this simple test:

  • Use a small shovel to dig a section of grass 3 inches deep and 3 inches square.
  • Use a ruler or tape measure to measure the thickness of the straw layer. This is the mat of brown stalks and dead matter between the green grass and the earth.
  • If the layer of straw is 1/2 inch or less thick, you don't need to remove it.
  • If the layer of straw is more than 1/2 inch thick, your lawn will need to be removed.

Since St. Augustine spreads above ground only by stolons (stolons), straw is extremely injurious to him. Stolons cannot root through straw and form new grass plants. This will keep your St. Augustine from spreading and filling your yard.

Cut before removing the straw

Before removing, trim St. Augustine at a height of 2 inches. This allows the remover to go through the live grass and pull out the thick straw mat.

(Video) Power raking VS Scarifying lawn! (Using the RIGHT tool for the job!)

  • Before removing, cut St. Augustine into 2 inches.
  • The low cut allows the removal tools to reach the live grass and remove thatch.

Although St. Augustines typically thrive with a blade height of 3 to 4 inches, mowing the entire lawn before removing thatch is essential to getting the most out of your job.

Choose the right removal tool

The best tool for removing St. Augustine is a vertical lawnmower. This tool can be rented at most local hardware stores. It does the best job of removing heavy thatch from St. Augustine without damaging the grass. Do not use an electric rake to rake St. Augustine as this will damage St. Augustine's stolons and make it difficult for the grass to recover.

  • Use a vertical lawn mower to cut St. Augustine.
  • Avoid power rakes (sometimes called scarifiers) as they are St. Augustine.
  • On small yards under 1,500 square feet, St. Augustine's can be removed with a simplestraw rake.

The least harmful way to remove Saint Augustine is to use adefoliation rake. However, this is a manual process that is more time consuming and labor intensive than vertical cutting. It is best used for small sections of the yard.

How To Scarify St. Augustine Grass [7 Easy Steps] | pepper house and garden (2)

buy now

(Video) 5 Steps To Recover St. Augustine Grass

We earn a commission when you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

01.06.2023 04:15 GMT

Cut with a vertical lawn mower

Space the scarifier blades 3 inches (7.5 cm) apart before removing the straw. This is the right width to dismember Saint Augustine without damaging him. Then demulch your garden, making sure to only remove each area once.

  • Set the vertical cutting blades 3 inches apart.
  • Drive the upright mower across the lawn as you would a standard lawn mower.
  • Rake and straw bag for disposal or composting.

After mowing, remove the brown, dead material from the lawn. Straw consists of stems and stolons that resist decay. Straw left in your yard does not easily break down into organic matter.

Aerate your lawn

The best time to air the St. Augustine is immediately after thatching has been removed. With less straw interfering with your aerator, aeration becomes more effective. Not only that, aerated soil absorbs water, air, and nutrients more easily, preventing your St. Augustine from defoliating.

  • After removing thatch, use a core aerator to loosen the soil and speed up your lawn's recovery.
  • Aeration is most effective when the straw is fine. Plan to remove and vent the spring.

Removing thatch, followed by aeration, prepares your lawn for a spring and summer growth boom. Your lawn may look a little thin right after mowing, but aerating will put your grass on the road to recovery.

Fertilize St. freshly sorted Augustin

A slow-release nitrogen fertilizer applied to a freshly tilled lawn will increase growth and recovery while preventing weed invasion. If your St. Augustine has not benefited much from fertilizer applications in the past, this time the story could be different. By removing the straw, you allow more fertilizer to reach the soil and feed the grass roots.

  • A thick layer of straw prevents the fertilizer from getting into the soil.
  • The newly mulched and aerated soil absorbs fertilizer at high rates.
  • Use this to increase grass growth in spring and summerfertilizerin its detached St. Augustine.
  • Applying fertilizer after removing the leaves encourages dense grass growth and helps St. Augustine resist weeds.

Within a few weeksfertilizer application, your Augustine will have recovered. It will be much greener and more vibrant than it was before you removed it. Excessive thatching can result in a brown, blotchy appearance, but removing and fertilizing will turn your lawn into a green paradise.

(Video) How to Rake and Scarify a Lawn for Moss and Thatch

How To Scarify St. Augustine Grass [7 Easy Steps] | pepper house and garden (3)

Check Home Depot

(Video) How to Kill/Prevent Weeds in St Augustine Grass

We earn a commission when you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

01.05.2023 18:35 GMT

What is the danger of too much straw in St. Augustine?

When St. Augustine thatch grows more than 1/2 inch, it begins to act like a sponge, robbing the soil of moisture and becoming a spongy mass that can harbor mold and diseases such as thrush. B. gray leaf spots. In addition, any fertilizer you spread will be trapped in the straw layer. It doesn't reach the ground where it can feed your lawn.

  • Steals water from living grass and leads to St. Augustine, stricken by drought.
  • Prevents fertilizer nutrients from reaching the ground to feed live grass.
  • Promotes diseases including grass fungus and insect pests.
  • The thick straw will make St. Augustine fight and die.

Too thick a layer of straw will kill your St. Augustine grass in places. This is because the thatch prevents St. Augustine from spreading to repair itself while robbing up to an inch of water from the ground. This deadly combination results in a lawn that becomes thin and unhealthy over time.

How often should you remove St. Augustine?

Check the thickness of the layer of straw on your St. Augustine every spring. If thatch is more than 1/2 inch thick, follow the steps above to reduce thatch and improve the health of your lawn. If the straw is 1/2 inch thick or less, you can wait until next spring before testing again.

  • Test the straw thickness every spring (March/April).
  • Some St. Augustine turfs need to be removed annually, while others may only need topping up every 2 years.

How often your lawn needs to be mowed depends on several factors, including watering and fertilizing schedules. How quickly thatch builds up on your lawn depends on the local climate and your lawn care practices.

How do you remove St Augustine Grass Thatch?

To eliminate excessive thatch buildup on St. Augustine grass, follow these steps:

  • Plan the distance in spring between March and May.
  • Test the thickness of the straw. If it's more than 1/2 inch, your St. Augustine needs to be removed.
  • Mow the grass to 2 inches high before removing the straw.
  • Mow the grass with a vertical lawnmower with blades spaced 3 inches apart.
  • Remove loose straw debris from your lawn.
  • Use a core aerator to loosen the soil after removing it.
  • Apply a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer to allow your lawn to recover and thrive.

This relocation plan is great for St. Augustine and will help promote healthy weed that resists drought,weed, and disease. A living lawn created through proper weeding makes routine care and maintenance easy and hassle-free.


How do I get rid of thatch in my St. Augustine grass? ›

Thatch can be removed by a vertical mower or by other means of dethatching such as a power rake. Vertical mowing helps keep turf healthy by removing the vegetation from the thatch layer. This dead vegetation is lifted to the surface by the blades of the vertical mower.

How often should I aerate my St. Augustine grass? ›

Ideally, core aerating the lawn with cool season grass in the early spring or fall, and those with warm season grass in the late spring. You should do core aeration in St Augustine, FL at least one time per year, and for the best results twice.

When should I Dethatch my St Augustine lawn? ›

You need to wait until the grass is in active growth before dethatching or adding fill, so those procedures are done during the summer growing season. You could fill anytime between May and August, but I recommend doing it in early summer rather than later.

What month Should I fertilize St. Augustine grass? ›

Augustinegrass is typically fertilized only twice during the growing season (early May and early July).

Can you put St. Augustine seed over existing grass? ›

It is recommended to never overseed St. Augustine lawns due to the fact it can be hard to get good seed contact without having to scalp and damage the existing yard. The main choice for which cool-season turf to overseed with is generally between annual ryegrass and perennial ryegrass.

Should grass be wet or dry when dethatching? ›

Dethatch when soil is moist, not dry. If soil is too wet, a dethatch may yank turf out by the roots, creating large bare spots. It's best to dethatch during cooler weather. Mow the lawn to half its normal height right before dethatching.

How tall should you cut St. Augustine grass? ›

Set the mowing height at 21/2 to 3 inches (3 to 31/2 inches in shady lawns). The lower the mowing height, the more frequently you will need to mow. Frequent mowing at a lower height produces higher quality turfgrass. It is best not to bag grass clippings.

Can you water new St. Augustine sod too much? ›

New sod does need to be watered more often than established grass to ensure that it will take root, but it is possible to put too much water on the sod. Too much water on your sod could make it soggy, which prevents it from establishing a strong root system.

Can you water St. Augustine grass too much? ›

It grows quickly in summer and slows down during winter, needing less water. Too little water can damage your lawn, but too much can also lead to lawn health problems because St. Augustine has shallow roots and is vulnerable to fungal attacks.

Should you water St. Augustine grass every day? ›

In fact, you need to water St. Augustine grass in sandy soils approximately 1/2 inch of water twice a week to keep the ground moist enough for healthy grass growth. On the other hand, clay soils require observation; water the grass until you see some water runoff and then immediately stop.

How long does it take for grass to grow after dethatching? ›

After dethatching your lawn it is a great time to aerate your lawn. After aerating, overseed and fertilize with Milorganite®. It should take about 3-4 weeks for the lawn to recover and show signs of new growth.

What height should grass be to dethatch? ›

You want to remove thatch that is right above the soil without tearing it up. A height of about a quarter-inch (6.35 millimeters) above the soil may work -- adjust the blades while they are on a smooth surface. They may need to be slightly higher for delicate grasses. First, mow the grass about half as high as usual.

How tall should grass be before dethatching? ›

Mow your lawnto half its normal height before you begin dethatching. (FYI: Don't fertilize before dethatching.) Use a dethatching rake like you would a regular rake. Dig the tines into the thatch and pull it upward, helping to loosen and remove the buildup.

How do you thicken St. Augustine grass? ›

Augustine does best in sandy, acidic, well-draining soil. Keep the pH level between 5.0 and 8.5 for a thicker and fuller lawn. Add topsoil to bare spots and grade the yard to keep water from pooling. If you have clay soil or if it's just poor draining, you can aerate or mix and till it with compost or pine bark.

What fertilizer to use on St. Augustine grass in spring? ›

The best fertilizer for St Augustine grass is any fertilizer that has one pound of nitrogen for every 1,000 square feet of sod. Fertilizing every two months is ideal unless you apply slow release fertilizer that can be spread every 10 weeks.

What fertilizer to use in fall for St. Augustine grass? ›

In fall, when growth is much slower and the grass is preparing to enter winter dormancy, St. Augustine should get no more than ½ pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in one feeding. In total, your lawn should never get more than 5 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year.

Can you just sprinkle grass seed on grass? ›

The short answer – is yes. Grass seed can grow if you just throw it on the ground, but the success of the germination will be much different compared to when you do the right preparation and sowing technique.

Can you just sprinkle grass seed on soil? ›

If you simply toss the grass seed onto the soil, you will end up with poor germination. Thoroughly rake the area to remove any loose debris and to create grooves in the soil. These grooves will help increase the seed-to-soil contact that is imperative for germination.

Can you just throw seed on top of grass? ›

Can you just sprinkle grass seed on top of your existing lawn? While it's possible to simply sow the new grass seed over your existing lawn, taking the time to prepare your lawn beforehand will increase the likelihood of seed germination and improve your end result.

What does too much thatch look like? ›

To determine if the brown spots in your lawn are related to a thick thatch problem, remove a two inch deep wedge from your lawn. Measure the thatch or brown spongy layer between the soil surface and the green grass plants. If the layer is greater than 3/4 inch, you have too much thatch.

What does Overwatered St. Augustine sod look like? ›

Brown, Wilting Grass Blades. Yellow or brown and wilting grass can be a sign of overwatered new sod. This is a tricky one. Some Florida homeowners notice brown spots in new sod and panic, dumping even more water on their lawn, assuming it's too dry.

How do I know if my yard needs thatched? ›

Take a garden trowel or spade and dig up a small wedge of your lawn grass and soil. You'll be able to see and measure its thatch layer. If your thatch is 1–2 inches or more, you've probably already seen signs of poor grass color and weak, thin growth.

What is the next step after dethatching lawn? ›

After dethatching, rake up the newly exposed thatch. Mowing your lawn will also help to clean things up. Fertilizing at this time is also important. This will help your lawn recover and get much needed nutrients.

Should you mow after dethatching? ›

Step 4: Mow your lawn again

Once you've finished detaching, mow your lawn again. This will help to remove any loose thatch from the surface of your lawn. By following these simple steps, you can easily dethatch your lawn and improve the health of your grass.

What happens if you cut St. Augustine grass too short? ›

St. Augustine grass can take the Florida sun but a lawn cut too short will fry, leaving room for both weeds and diseases to join in the lawn party. The height of grass blades creates shade not only for the parts of grass itself but helps shade weeds and their seeds keeping them from germinating.

What happens if you cut St. Augustine grass too low? ›

St. Augustine grass should be mowed at a height of 2 to 3 inches at all times. If you allow your lawn to grow past 3 inches you risk the possibility of mowing down into the stems. If you mow it too short you cut off the nutrient supply and reduce some of the shade to the turf.

How many hours a day should I water sod? ›

Make Sure You're Watering Enough

Your new lawn needs to be watered twice a day, for about 20 minutes per session every day for at least two months. This should be enough so that your lawn gets a solid six inches of watering per cycle.

What is the best time to water St. Augustine grass? ›

A: The best time is in the early morning hours (1:00am to 3:00am), prior to the dew. Watering in the late morning may be detrimental if it extends the time the lawn is naturally wet from dew, which may accelerate disease issues. Watering during the day wastes water due to excessive evaporation from the sun.

How do I make my St. Augustine grass greener? ›

The best way to revive St. Augustine grass is to give your lawn 1–1.5 inches of water every week, provide your soil with the correct nutrients, and eliminate any pests or other animals that may be killing the St. Augustine grass.

Is it better to water St. Augustine at night or morning? ›

A: The best time is in the early morning hours (1:00am to 3:00am), prior to the dew. Watering in the late morning may be detrimental if it extends the time the lawn is naturally wet from dew, which may accelerate disease issues. Watering during the day wastes water due to excessive evaporation from the sun.

How many times a week should I water St. Augustine? ›

Watering twice per week (following Water Management District guidelines) is sufficient. The correct approach is to water less frequently but more thoroughly. On average, St. Augustine grass requires about ¾ inch of water twice per week (for a total of about 1 ½ inches of water per week).

Should you water St. Augustine after mowing? ›

We're here to tell you that it's definitely okay to water your lawn after you mow (but you probably shouldn't water before you mow). Realistically, as long as you're watering and mowing at all, you're doing better than most.

How can I make my St. Augustine grass healthy? ›

St. Augustine grass requires mowing less often than other grass types. Use your lawn mower about once every one to two weeks to keep your lawn about 3 to 4 inches tall. Keeping the mowing height high like this helps the shade-tolerant turf more easily encourage root growth.

How often should I cut St. Augustine grass? ›

St. Augustine grass should be mowed once a week during the growing season, which is typically from April through October in Florida. In general, St. Augustine mowing heights during the summer are about 2–4 inches.

How do I keep my St. Augustine grass green in the summer? ›

St. Augustine grass performs best if fertilized regularly, on a schedule. Fertilize it initially in spring after it has finished greening up. During the summer, maintain a fertilizing schedule such that you feed it every 6 to 8 weeks.

What is the difference between dethatching and scarifying? ›

A dethatcher will effectively rake up the dead plant thatch, while a scarifier will do that and also roll into your soil and more aggressively rip up the top layer of thatch and soil.

What is the best fertilizer for thatch? ›

To prevent thatch buildup, use a high quality, slow release nitrogen fertilizer, such as a GreenView Fairway Formula Fertilizer, and mow to keep the grass about 3 inches tall.

Should I cut my grass short before dethatching? ›

The best time to dethatch is late summer or early fall. That's when your grass is growing most vigorously. Before dethatching, mow a little shorter than normal. Also, you'll achieve better results if you do it after a light rain or watering.

Should I cut lawn before scarifying? ›

For the best results, mow the lawn before scarifying. You should also feed your lawn before scarifying.

What temperature should I dethatch? ›

You're looking for a time when the night time air temperatures are averaging 60 degrees or more, and your grass has started to produce new growth. Cool Season Grass. Cool season grasses (bluegrass, fescue, and rygrass) tend to be lower maintenance and often require less thatching.

Should I seed right after dethatching? ›

After dethatching, thatch should be removed and put in the compost pile. If you do not already have a compost pile, then you should seriously consider adding one. After this has been done, high-quality grass seed.

Can you fertilize right after dethatching? ›

Dethatchers come with rotating tines or blades which remove the dead grass and soil allowing it to be collected into piles of debris for removal by shoveling or bagging. Once dethatched, some say you should wait two weeks before fertilizing; however spreader settings will need to be adjusted before fertilizing.

Is dethatching just raking? ›

A power rake is a machine that uses blades similar to a roto-tiller to remove thatch and debris that can build up on a lawn. Power raking is gentler than dethatching since it only removes debris at the soil level (whereas dethatching also pulls and removes healthy root systems).

Should I aerate my St. Augustine grass? ›

Turf grasses such as Bermuda, Zoysia and St. Augustine are best aerated mid spring through summer. This allows the turf to grow a dense root system that helps nourish the grass through Florida's long, hot summers.

How do you fill bare spots in St. Augustine grass? ›

If your grass is a St. Augustine grass lawn, you'll want to sod or plug your bare spots. Purchase a few pieces of sod or enough plugs to cover your bare spots from your local garden center. Then prepare the area by applying a generous layer of Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Soil.

Should I fertilize before or after dethatching? ›

Aerate, Overseed, Fertilize

After dethatching your lawn it is a great time to aerate your lawn. After aerating, overseed and fertilize with Milorganite®. It should take about 3-4 weeks for the lawn to recover and show signs of new growth.


1. St Augustine Grass Tips // How I Get My St Augustine So Thick and Green
(The Lawn Care Nut)
2. Dethatching Your Lawn
(Lawn Solutions Australia)
3. How to Fill in Thin and Bare Areas in Your Lawn (St. Augustine grass) Florida
(Turf Organics)
4. Sand Leveling St. Augustine Grass - Flatten a Bumpy Lawn - Keep it Simple
(Black Hole DIY)
5. How To Get Rid of Moss In a Lawn Naturally & Fast - HOME REMEDIES
(Natural Health Remedies)
6. Scalping / renovating / rejuvenating a NEGLECTED Sir Walter buffalo (St Augustine grass) lawn
(The Aussie Lawn)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Wyatt Volkman LLD

Last Updated: 06/01/2023

Views: 6672

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (66 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Wyatt Volkman LLD

Birthday: 1992-02-16

Address: Suite 851 78549 Lubowitz Well, Wardside, TX 98080-8615

Phone: +67618977178100

Job: Manufacturing Director

Hobby: Running, Mountaineering, Inline skating, Writing, Baton twirling, Computer programming, Stone skipping

Introduction: My name is Wyatt Volkman LLD, I am a handsome, rich, comfortable, lively, zealous, graceful, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.