St Augustine – Cold Tolerance

Q: The other morning you were talking on the radio about your lawn and it sounded like you have St. Augustine grass. We would love to plant St. Augustine but I hear it’s a gamble in Atlanta due to the cold winters. Our lawn faces north so it gets full sun from spring through fall. The lawn gets no sun during the winter due to the shade from our house and trees in the backyard. What varieties do you recommend?

A: I’ve had a St Augustine lawn for five years. I got my sprigs from a lawn in Candler Park that had been there, unharmed, for twenty years. Further, I remember my Clayton county Extension colleague Madge Kirk telling me thirty years ago that she had a perfectly healthy St. Augustine lawn in Forest Park.

Turf specialist Clint Waltz has evaluated St. Augustine turf for three winters in Griffin. His research proves that cold tolerance is variety-dependent. Clint recommends the ‘Raleigh’, ‘Palmetto’, and ‘Mercedes’ cultivars for metro Atlanta.

Although St. Augustine can tolerate a bit of shade, it needs at least an hour or two of sun in winter to keep it healthy. If you decide to install it, bear in mind that shade, not cold, may limit the success of your lawn.

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