Does St Augustine Grass Go Dormant in Winter

Does St Augustine Grass Go Dormant in Winter? Expert Tips!

Chilly weather in Winter significantly affects the greenery, so it can be challenging to protect your St Augustine lawn from going dormant during the cold months. The reason why, while St Augustine can be grown in shaded areas, it still requires some amount of sunlight to thrive. Thus, we will be exploring how you should maintain your St Augustine lawn in the winter season without letting it completely die. 

Does St Augustine Grass Go Dormant in Winter?

Yes, St Augustine grass will go dormant in Winter. Indeed, the grass’s reaction to cold largely depends on the climate in which it is grown. Here’s an overview:

In cooler regions like North Florida and Georgia, St. Augustine grass typically enters a semi-dormant state during Winter.

Thus, its growth rate decreases significantly, the blades may turn brown or yellowish, and it needs less water and care.

In warmer areas like Southern Florida and California, St. Augustine grass often experiences little to no dormancy, remaining green throughout the year, particularly if temperatures stay above freezing.

In this case, temperature is the key determinant; lower temperatures lead to dormancy, while higher temperatures keep the grass more active.

Sunlight, or lack thereof, can also induce dormancy, even in milder climates. Sufficient moisture levels can help the grass retain its green color in cooler conditions.

Do not panic! Dormancy is a natural, energy-conserving process for the grass during the colder months. You should refrain from over-fertilizing dormant St. Augustine grass and resume regular lawn care in early spring.

Remember, moderate watering during dormant periods is important to avoid drought stress.

If you have a newly installed lawn, monitor your St. Augustine grass to gauge its reaction to your local climate. Then, tailor your lawn care routine (watering, fertilizing, mowing) according to the grass’s state of dormancy.

What Soil Temperature Causes St Augustine to Go Dormant?

St Augustine grass can go dormant when the soil temperature stays below 55F. Temperature significantly influences the dormancy of St.

Augustine grass, yet determining a precise soil temperature threshold for this process is complex.

It involves a blend of factors, with temperature being the primary one, but light and moisture levels also play important roles.

Here’s a concise breakdown of how these elements interact:


  • General Range: St. Augustine grass typically enters dormancy when soil temperatures consistently stay below 55°F (13°C).
  • Regional Differences: In cooler regions, dormancy may begin around 55°F, whereas in warmer areas, the grass can stay active even if soil temperatures fall slightly below this mark.
  • Duration of Cold: Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can significantly affect the grass. Short-term drops below 55°F may not induce dormancy if they are followed by warmer spells.

Light and Moisture

  • Sunlight: Reduced sunlight, particularly during the shorter days of Winter, can lead to dormancy in St. Augustine grass at somewhat higher soil temperatures. In general, St Augustine requires sunlight at least for 4 hours per day.
  • Moisture: Proper moisture levels can retain the grass’s green color and postpone dormancy, while lack of water might hasten the onset.

Additional Considerations

  • Grass Variety: Some varieties of St. Augustine grass, such as Seville and Palmetto Sapphire, have greater shade and cold tolerance and may remain green at lower temperatures.
  • Overall Lawn Health: Undoubtedly, a well-maintained lawn with healthy soil conditions is more resilient to colder temperatures and might enter dormancy later than a lawn under stress.

How to Prevent St. Augustine from Going Dormant?

In order to prevent St Augustine from going dormant, you should properly maintain the lawn throughout the year.

In fact, this dormancy is a natural response to cooler temperatures, but there are strategies to minimize dormancy and maintain a greener lawn for as long as possible:

  • Maintain Adequate Moisture: Regular watering can help prevent the grass from going dormant too early. Keep the soil consistently moist, but avoid overwatering to prevent root rot and other issues.
  • Proper Fertilization: It is highly important to apply a balanced fertilizer during the growing season to ensure the grass is healthy and has stored enough energy to withstand cooler temperatures. Avoid fertilizing too late in the season, as this can promote new growth that’s sensitive to frost.
  • Mow at the Right Height: Don’t cut the grass too short before the onset of cold weather. The reason why, longer blades can help protect the roots from frost and retain more heat.
  • Mulch with Grass Clippings: Leave grass clippings on the lawn after mowing. They can act as a natural mulch, providing insulation and nutrients.
  • Aerate the Lawn: Aerating the lawn in the late summer or early fall can improve root health, making the grass more resilient to cold temperatures.
  • Control Weeds: Make sure to keep weeds under control during the growing season, as they can compete with St. Augustine grass for nutrients and water.
  • Select a Resilient Variety: If you’re planting new grass or overseeding, choose a variety of St. Augustine grass known for its cold tolerance.
  • Use Covers in Frost: For lawns in areas with light and sporadic frosts, using a frost blanket or burlap can provide some protection and delay dormancy.
  • Optimize Soil Health: Regular soil testing and amendments based on the results can ensure optimal growing conditions for the grass.
  • Limit Foot Traffic: During colder periods, it would be better to reduce foot traffic on the lawn to minimize stress on the grass.

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