St. Augustine...Palmetto Grass variety question

Sharon4457October 13, 2007

I've been doing some ready on this variety of St. Augustine and what I'm finding it s that it does well in shaded areas? Does anyone have this grass or information?


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St. Aug is not for north georgia. ("zone 7") It's for the coastal plain and places like texas.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 6:10PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

I think Palmetto is rated up to zone 7. It can tolerate as low as 5*F weather...

Here is a link that might be useful: Where Palmetto can grow...

    Bookmark   October 13, 2007 at 10:03PM
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Growing and barely hanging on for 3 or 4 months of the year is one thing, having a decent growing season without a lot of winter kill and late freeze problems is another. I'm all for using native grass though especially for shady areas, you can't beat creeping red fescue in the shade unless you need extreme wear tolerance.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 9:01AM
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"I think Palmetto is rated up to zone 7. It can tolerate as low as 5*F weather..."

Do not mislead people. St. Augustine is a Tropical Grass just like Zoysia. But unlike Zoysia, it has the least cold tolerance of the warm season grasses. According to "some" universities tests, Zoysia is rated to -30 below zero, yet, in the relatively mild zone 7, it gets winter damage/kill every year.

Growing St. Augustine grass in zone 7 is like trying to grow KBG in zone 9...

Fine Fescue works VERY well in the shade in zone 7, if traffic is a problem, then try to use Turf-Type Tall Fescue instead.

If you insist on a warm season grass, then Cavalier Zoysia will be a MUCH better choice than St. Augustine.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 3:32PM
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Well technically st. Frankenstein is a temporate grass being native to temperate regions of north america but it is definitely an acquired taste. It's not going to win any beauty contests and it requires a lot of irrigation and could also require a fair amount of fertilizer in northern ga. I don't think it can be beat for traffic tolerance though. And also it can creep into your landscaping planting/gardening beds. But some people like that. Some people like the overall lighter green color of warm season grasses and their coarse texture. I like my grass to be soft and fluffy and extremely dark green. I don't like to put out fertilizer and don't want to have to worry about grass dying if it doesn't get water. I also like to mow the lawn when it's nice weather out and not so much when it's too hot and humid. So for me fine fescue is perfect. But maybe not for OP. Who really knows? Only OP knows for sure.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 8:37PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

If St Augustine or bermuda are what most people in your neighborhood have, then you can get away with it. Otherwise a mix of bluegrass and fescues is probably best.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 11:22PM
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I will take a crack at this as I have done a lot of research on Palmentto SA and will be planting 10-acres next Spring here on the sod farm in Northern TX. Keep in mind I do not have personal experience with it, but trust professional sources of commercial growers and will relay what I have learned so far.

Of the Saint Augustine varieties Palmetto has the best cold and shade tolerances of any of the SAÂs, and about the best drought resistance. What this means is it will green up sooner in the spring, and stay green longer in the late fall. Testing indicates it can take drought of up to two months without water.

Palmetto is a dwarf variety of SA and if let grown to 3-inches will look like fine fescue. What I can tell it will perform excellent in fairly deep shade. SA is known as a good shade performer.

As to the cold weather tolerance in your area, let me say this: Raleigh SA grows and performs well in guess where? Palmetto has better cold weather tolerance than Raleigh, so I am comfortable saying Palmetto should do fine in your area.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 1:52PM
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I live in the Atlanta area (zone 7) and I have Mercedes SA. I am on my second season with it and so far, so good. I was one of two yards in the neighborhood with a green lawn this summer. I watered once a week. The other green yard was Zoyzia. The neighborhood , and to a greater extent, my yard is more shady than sunny, which is one reason I choose this grass. It greens up in mid to late April and will stay green well past the end of October, so the growing season is definitely longer than 3-4 months. As for fertilizer, I have used soybean and corn meal 4-5 times a year.
I did have a fungus problem in the heavily shaded area this spring, but it cleared up and filled in quickly.
It does require more work in the summer, often mowing twice a week and the blade is a very coarse blade. The color is not as dark green as my neighbor's Zoyzia but much better than the dead/dormant fescue lawns around me.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 3:43PM
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OK the OP's obviously not coming back. We're free to start throwing stools and bashing bottles over one another's head.

I had palmetto while I lived in florida. It was not an especially nice looking grass. It always looked pressed down. I guess that's what T-dub means by dwarf. I always called it the funky variety that never looked right. Certainly doesn't look anything like tall fescue unless you're talking about K31 mowed really short. Although I will grant you there is some st augustine variety that did look very much like tall fescue to me in the movie "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector" in the scene where they are in front of what I believe they were referring to as the courthouse. The movie was filmed in the Orlando area and having lived there I can definitely attest to this but the grass in this particular scene did make me pay notice. But there is one thing there is no mistaking... That is florida and the climate there limits you for the most part to tropical or tropicalesque swampgrasses with relatively poor genetic color and coarse texture. In zone 7 however we have this annoying thing called seasons, namely winter, spring and fall when warm season grass is either winding down, waking up or just plain brown. But for 3 or 4 months of the year during normal years it is most actively growing. Seeing as how that is the case, there are many other choices for turf in north georgia, you can grow anything you want. This has got to be the last species of grass on earth I would ever plant. It would have to be the last grass on earth. No offense it's just not my cup of tea. If you suffer from zone denial and trying to grow palm trees here too then you'll probably love st. Augustine. It looks like it's straight out of the amazon.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 7:47PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Texas Weed -

Wouldn't it be nice if they could come up with improved Floratam with better cold tolerance and shade tolerance while retaining its superior drought tolerant, far better than any st augustine varieties and even better than zoysia...

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 1:58PM
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Lou I and every other sod farmer is working on finding a better mouse trap so to speak.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 2:20PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

OK you lost me there...

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 8:35AM
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Lou what I mean is every sod farmer and university are trying to find that next strain of SUPER LAWN GRASS. One that never needs water, or goes dormant, grows in darkness, and immune to all deseases and insects. Once we find it, we are very rich.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 8:39AM
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I saw a commercial for it on tv, it's called patch perfect. It grows on concrete and can be irrigated with dog pee.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 8:59AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)


I'm willing to settle for improved Floratam with improved cold tolerant and shade tolerant. I think i have some growing here in my backyard mixed in Palmetto (very easy to tell apart due to different green color). Performance wise, i give a big plus to Floratam...

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 1:08PM
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I plugged plain old fashioned Bitter Blue SA here in my shady yard - some plugged into what used to be parking area that was/is well packed crushed shell and probably is the highest shade area - lawn in that shell & shade absolutely grows the best.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 9:40PM
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Mikie I'm sure for some thats hard to believe, but I know exctly what you are talking about, my SA will take off and grow in some unexpected places like crazy.

Texas-weed ? if your still following thread? How do you plant 10 acres, with a new sod, just the over-view, my imagination can fill in the details..... TIA

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 11:49PM
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giventake, I won't bore you with all the deails but I am a sod farmer. I am going to basically experiment with Palmetto by planting 10-acres. If no market develops for it, not a out a whole lot of money other than liscense fees and some royalties.

Anyway I will have a certified pallet delivered, then run it through a machine that is basically a wood chipper to make a bunch of sprigs and plant them next spring. Then in spring 2009 see how it sells. If I get a good market, cut more sod up from stock, make more sprigs and enlarge the area. Or if it really takes off buy more sod and make a lot of sprigs.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 12:15AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)


I noticed that sprigs of Palmetto take a while to get it going. Floratam and Sapphire are another story. They just take off and fill in 2-3 months before Palmetto. Thought it was interesting. They'd make best plugs if they don't want to go with sod. I still don't understand why some places sell Delmar plugs which has to be the slowest spreading variety ever.

Sapphire variety looks more like tall fescue than st augustine. The blades fold making them appear thinner. It was pretty interesting. Floratam, well..., looks like your typical coarse blade st augustine.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 9:19AM
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Lou I appreciate your comments, but as you are aware my farm is in the Red River Valley north of Dallas and in my market area there are only about three options for me with respect to Saint Augustine. Those are Texas Common (I already grow), Raleigh (market is flooded), and Palmetto. The other varieties will not survive repeated frost and light freezes we experience during the winter. All my study suggests Palmetto should remain evergreen with maybe a short brown dormant period following a rare hard freeze we get once every few years. Raleigh, and Texas Common are very coarse, wide bladed, and lighter in color, but Palmetto is a dwarf and much darker that appeals to a broader market base. So for me based on that it is location, location, location.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 9:34AM
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Then that settles it. Sapphire should be used and not floratam.

t-Dub, the market for this type of grass is huge. In case you can't tell from all those posts where the folks up north trying to deal with their zoysia lawns or all the folks that fell for the patch prefect scam, rather than just sell sod locally you could sell plugs over the internet to people that can't find other varieties. Why limit yourself to people that have only budgeted for sod?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 9:35AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)


I wasn't trying to get you to grow them. I'm just telling you my experiences from growing them. I'm very well aware of where your sod farm is. I have my doubts about Palmetto though. My "floratam" which remains a mystery whether it is really floratam have overtaken Palmetto. Palmetto looks bad for some reason. County extension is worthless POS so I have no idea what is going on with Palmetto. I thought maybe SADV but who really knows... It is mainly restricted to the back part of the backyard where it looks bad while Floratam is thriving. Weird...

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 9:47AM
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Yea I do find it strange you have Floratam. You are in the DFW area right? I would think Floratam would have been frozen out by now.

I have doubts about Palmetto also, that is why I am only devoting 10-acres at this time to it. I have visited several are sod farms that do grow it and impressed with what I have seen. The root sctructure and shade tolerance of Palmetto is awesome. Only downside reported to me is some SAD.

Just thinking out loud here but could it be you are keeping your Palmetto cut to high mixed in with Floratam? The taller conditions favor the Floratam since Palmetto is a dwarf.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 10:59AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Somehow Turfgrass America picked it up along with Palmetto that I had ordered for my backyard. I didn't notice it till a month later (planted July 2005) when they were establishing more rapidly and started spreading while Palmetto is still slow to establish. They both have different color, blade thickness, etc. Anyway, I contacted Turfgrass america and told them that they delivered wrong variety (probably half-full pallet worth that was mixed in with other 6 pallets of palmetto) so they had a guy come over and look at it. He told me that they do not grow floratam where they are growing palmetto and that it is raleigh. Huh??? my neighbor has Raleigh st aug and they don't even look the same as what I have.

Does Raleigh have thick purple reddish stolons? All the information point me to Floratam. I don't know what to say. It grows fine although it seems to suffer winter dieback (I live about 20 miles south of DFW). Does Raleigh suffer winter dieback?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 2:40PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

I don't think mowing height has to do with it. I mean I still have stand alone patches of palmetto that is looking chlorotic while "Floratam" is not affected at all. I'll post more pictures in a bit while.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 2:42PM
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