How To Revive St. Augustine Grass? 4 Tips to Bring it Back

Inadequate care and maintenance may cause a St. Augustine grass to turn yellow or develop brown patches. Pest infestations, excessive fertilizer use, and turf diseases can contribute to your lawn turning brown and appearing dead. However, there are steps you can take to revive the grass.

Quick Answer

Revitalizing St. Augustine grass involves proper watering, pest removal (especially grub worms), and enhancing soil quality. Sufficient watering helps the grass survive during summer droughts, while grub control prevents root damage that often leads to grass death.

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How to Revive St. Augustine Grass

How to revive st augustine grass and bring it back from dead

St. Augustine grass that appears to be dead for less than 5 weeks can be revived depending on the underlying problem.

Here’s how to bring back dead St. Augustine grass and make it grow green again:

1. Water your lawn adequately

In extended periods of hot and dry weather, St. Augustine grass might start to die. The best way to bring it back is to start watering it about 3 times a week.

Water the turf deeply to achieve the right amount of water your turf needs. St. Augustine grass requires 1 inch of water per week during the growing season, meaning when the grass is green, and 1 inch every 2 weeks when the grass is dormant, which means when it is brown.

If you water adequately to bring it back to life, you may need to do a total of about 1 ½ inches of water every week.

However, if the lawn is totally dead due to drought or lack of water, you might not be able to bring it back to life.

Will watering brown grass make it green?

Try watering the dead grass deeply to reach the roots. This should regrow the grass especially if it is the type that has rhizomes running deep in the soil. You should be able to see the grass growing back and starting to turn green after 3 to 4 weeks.

While watering grass that’s been dead for about 1 to 3 weeks can bring it back, it may be difficult to bring back dead St. Augustine grass that has been in that state for over 5 weeks.

2. Improve soil quality

If your St. Augustine turf is dying because of poor soil quality, the solution is to improve the quality of the soil to make sure it is suitable for this type of grass. St. Augustine grass likes to grow in well-aerated soil so you might want to address soil compaction and excess thatch in your yard.

Here are a few steps you can take to improve soil quality and revive St. Augustine grass:

  • Examine the yard to make sure you have an adequate layer of potent soil for the roots to grow deeper for a healthy lawn.
  • Do soil tests to determine the composition and the nutrients needed. You’ll need to make sure your lawn has around 5% organic matter to bring back dead St. Augustine grass.
  • Add a little topsoil on the lawn and water it to provide nutritious ground for the grass to grow.

Fixing the soil in your yard goes a long way in maintaining a healthy lawn. Clay soil can be a major culprit that causes dying grass, especially during drought. Ensure it is well aerated to help the grass survive.

3. Dethatch the lawn

A thick accumulation of thatch in St. Augustine grass can cause suffocation and the slow death of grass. Thick thatch is a good habitat for insects and disease-causing agents. It leads to shallow roots and winter kill.

To try and revive your lawn, dethatch it to allow easy nutrient supply when feeding. In addition, you may need to aerate to prevent root suffocation that may be causing your grass to die.

4. Replant the lawn

As the grass dies, it starts to form bare spots. In most instances, extensive lawn damage may not be repairable. The solution may be pulling up the lawn and starting fresh.

However, for bare spots, rake over the dead grass to loosen and remove it, and then go ahead to fill in the bare spots. You can do this by planting new plugs, feeding, and watering for proper growth.

When I lived in Florida, I had a 1/4 acre lot where the St. Augustine was spotty and instead of tearing up the existing sod, I gave it a round of RoundUp and let it sit for a week. Then I ordered a few pallets of fresh St. Augustine and just laid it on top of the old. It rooted well and took hold. The yard still looks great today.

For more options, check out my article on where to buy St. Augustine grass seed.

Here’s a great video to help your lawn back to life:

How to repair Brown Dead Grass Dormancy spots. Dead Spots in my lawn after fertilizer application.

5 Reasons Why St. Augustine Grass Dies

Lack of water, diseases, and unhealthy soil are the major reasons St. Augustine grass fails to thrive. While it is possible to bring back grass that’s been dead for a short period, you need to first identify the cause of the problem.

1. Lawn diseases

Various diseases can be the reason why your grass is dying or appearing as though it is dead. St. Augustine grass is prone to some diseases such as brown patch disease, gray leaf spot, and take-all root rot.

Brown patches of dead grass usually start appearing during fall and spring when the weather is warm and humid. These conditions are favorable for the spread of brown patch diseases in St. Augustine lawns.

In the days of summer when the weather is warm or hot, gray leaf spot disease may invade your lawn and exhibit signs such as purple to brown spots that eventually grow into dead patches as the disease spreads. Here’s how to identify gray leaf spot disease.

If you do not treat your turf when you see symptoms of these diseases, you’re likely going to end up with dead spots that appear brown.

2. Excess fertilizer application

too much fertilizer on st. augustine grass

Another major cause of dead St. Augustine grass is too much nitrogen fertilizer. During spring, homeowners start a lawn maintenance program. Most of them push their lawns to make the grass spread faster and grow thick and dense.

If you end up applying too much nitrogen fertilizer to make your grass grow quickly, you risk burning your lawn, aka fertilizer burn. Find out how to spot fertilizer burn.

You’ll start to notice signs of brown patches that may turn into dead spots.The good news is that these brown patches of St. Augustine grass can be revived easily.

3. Insect damage

insect damage on st. augustine grass

Pest damage is one of the most common reasons for dead St. Augustine grass. Grub worm infestation is one common problem in lawns starting from summer through early fall.

White grub worms eat the roots of your grass, causing it to die from the inability to draw water and nutrients from the soil. You can apply a grub control pesticide from spring to control grubs.

Another common problem in St. Augustine grass is chinch bugs. These infest southern lawns a lot and can cause damage that manifests as “irregular-shaped areas of dead and dying grass that result from chinch bug feeding.”

Most cases of insect damage in lawns can be fixed if intervention is done early. You can start reviving St. Augustine grass lawns by getting rid of grubs and chinch bugs as soon as you notice the symptoms. It’s important not to confuse lawn pests with beneficial microorganisms.

4. Drought stress

drought stress on st. augustine grass1

Summer often comes with drought. If you depend a lot on rain to water your lawn, you may experience dead grass when drought arrives. This is called drought stress.

St. Augustine grass thrives well when watered a few times a week. If it goes about 6 weeks without water, it will turn brown and appear dormant and in a dead state.

If you’re not too late, you may be able to revive your turf and bring it back to life just by watering it adequately using a good sprinkler that sprays water evenly.

5. Poor soil

Poor Soil on St. Augustine Grass

Poor soil quality may be the reason why St. Augustine turf is dying. Having a thin layer of topsoil with gravel, rocks, or heavily compacted clay soil beneath can be a real problem for turfgrass.

The roots fail to grow deep enough to support healthy growth and development of the grass, and any nutrient and water deficiency will start manifesting as wilting and dying grass.

Soil remedy can easily revive the lawn and bring it back to life, but you may need to start with a soil test to know the deficient nutrients and what type of fertilizer you may need to apply in your yard.

Can dead St Augustine grass come back?

You can easily bring back St. Augustine grass that looks dead to a lush green and dense lawn. However, it will depend on the cause of its browning.

A lawn that appears to be dead over a period of 3 to 5 weeks can be revived. If it remains dead for too long, you may not be able to bring it back to life because it will be dead at the root level.

Before tearing your lawn apart to grow a new one, you may need to examine it to see if the grass is truly dead or is just in a dormant state that can be revived.


7 thoughts on “How To Revive St. Augustine Grass? 4 Tips to Bring it Back”

  1. I dont know if my grass is dead dead or dying or of i need to rake the dead bits and reseed or what.
    Could you guys email me so I can email pictures back and see if we can fix my lawn? Thank you!

  2. I recently moved to Austin, Texas with my brother. His St Augustine yard appears to have a lower level of dead grass in the front- in the back he has patches that just look burned.. do I send you pics for your advice- signed ‘Texas Rookie’

    Ps he has a sprinkler system on a timer and hAs a very high water bill

  3. We just had three hard freezes in South Texas. My St Augustine grass, that use to be nice and green, now looks dormant. How best to bring along to life? Thanks.
    Ruben Saenz

  4. i live in corpus christi, texas.we got several days of 20 – 30 degreese st. augustine is brown. it has been 4 days since since this weather,temps.are getting back to normal 65-72 degrees,sunny.what can i do at this point to help my grass ?

    • Due to the freeze, it may be resting, at least that’s what we are all hoping for after the freak freeze. I would not do anything ‘yet’, wait a few more weeks until at least mid-March and see if you are starting to see some greening up again.


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