The “lawn” in my front yard was sparse, scraggly, and neglected. In February I raked up the huge accumulation of leaves and discovered a desert landscape. This was in the dry season, of course. Mowing did little but raise a cloud of dust. The culprits, besides neglect, were the two large Oak trees growing close to the street. I’m certainly not getting rid of them; I love the shade and, when I return from work each afternoon, they help make my street look homier and more inviting. Shade, however, is not good for growing grass.
I did a bit of research both online and at garden centers. A very knowledgeable Home Depot employee recommended a variety of St. Augustine that can tolerate shade – Palmetto. Unfortunately they had none in stock. The Lowe’s store down the street had one flat of plugs. When I left, they had none. This was on Saturday, June 29. I didn’t bother to buy a special plugging tool since each flat has only eighteen plugs. I used a trowel.
I watered the plugs once or twice by hand – “everybody knows” you should water new grass daily. I stopped because it’s been raining almost daily. After a week the grass was starting to look pretty nice. Palmetto has darker green leaves than most other varieties of St. Augustine. It’s said that this allows it to absorb more energy from low-level light. After two weeks the plugs were starting to spread. I declared the experiment a success.
Last Saturday, July 13, I discovered that Home Depot had gotten a shipment – one pallet – of Palmetto plugs. I bought ten flats (180 plugs) for $47.90. This wasn’t enough to do my whole front yard (40 flats might) but, along with the rest of my weekend chores, I felt I wouldn’t have time to do more. Besides, St. Augustine grass spreads.
Making holes with the plugger was much quicker and easier than bending over to dig. For a while. I had to finish the last twenty holes with my trusty trowel. The fancy, high-tech plugging tool wasn’t as durable as one might wish. The steel jaws were hinged to each other with flimsy, hollow aluminum rivets. These rivets didn’t last long. I returned the tool to Home Depot for a quick, cheerful refund.
I had thoroughly watered the plugs before planting them. The root balls were soggy wet. I had read that one should leave no air pockets when plugging-in grass so I carefully pressed the dirt around them with my fingers – and stomped on each one for good measure! I figured this couldn’t hurt since they are shipped piled up on a pallet. They were already squished when I brought them home.
Within a day the leaves were springing erect and looking quite healthy. It’s now a week later and, once the grass dries, I’ll get to mow!