What Makes St Augustine Grass Soft or Scratchy
Many of us still remember the days gone by when Saint Augustine grass used to be very scratchy, and even today there are still many homes which still have old style Saint Augustine lawns growing. But by now we would expect all of these old St Augustine lawns to be extremely thatched over and ready for removal by a digger. So what makes old St Augustine grass scratchy and irritating to the skin? And what makes new soft Saint Augustine grass… soft?
Saint Augustine Grass Has Barbs On Their Leaf
The reason why old Saint Augustine grass was scratchy was due to microscopic barbs which ran along the edges of the leaf of this grass type. While these barbs can't be seen by the naked eye, they were there all along, and would cause irritation to the skin of children who played on these old style Saint Augustine grass lawns.
When we look at these Saint Augustine grass leaf barbs under a microscope, we can see they really do look like sharp little hooks and spikes running along the edge of the leaf, and when we see them this way, they really do look kind of mean!
So it’s the presence of these microscopic barbs on the Saint Augustine leaf which was responsible for the old St Augustine grass being so scratchy and irritating.
Why Is New St Augustine Grass Soft
These days there are many different soft Saint Augustine grasses for sale, and most of these new soft St Augustine grasses are genuinely and equally soft, with no irritation factor.
So what makes these new St Augustine grasses soft?
Just as the presence of barbs made old St Augustine grass scratchy, it’s the reduction of and change in the shape of these same barbs on the leaf of soft St Augustine which has removed the scratchy nature of St Augustine grasses from years past.
Were All The St Augustine Barbs Removed
Microscopic studies of soft and scratchy Saint Augustine grass has revealed these leaf barbs on Saint Augustine grass to us for the first time, and now we can literally see these barbs for ourselves and with our own eyes.
What we can also see from these same microscopic photos is that even with the soft leaf St Augustine grasses, they too still have barbs, but these barbs are now so different that they are no longer irritating. Thus making these new soft Saint Augustine grasses so soft.
However, what we also found from these same microscopic photos was that the leaf tip of soft St Augustine grasses still retained many of the same scratchy barbs as old Saint Augustine grass did.
But over time as each leaf matured, it would change its barb characteristics so as to become less scratchy, and soft as a result.
So what does this scratchy leaf tip mean for owners of new soft St Augustine grasses? Absolutely nothing.
We all keep our lawns mowed, so this practice also removes those last remaining barely scratchy barbs at the tips of the St Augustine grass leaf in the same lawn mowing, so we never feel them. Even if we allowed our St Augustine to become longer and left un-mowed for longer periods of time, the tiny amount of scratchy barbs left remaining on these tips really is irrelevant. The new soft Saint Augustine lawn is still soft, and non irritating.
Old Versus New St Augustine Grasses
Because we are talking about old scratchy Saint Augustine grass, and the new soft St Augustine grasses, we really should make one final comment on the progression of Saint Augustine grass in recent years.
From recent St Augustine grass turf studies we now have it proven that there are many differences between old and new Saint Augustine grasses. Not only are the new St Augustine grasses soft, but they are also superior in all aspects of turf quality. And for these reasons, there is no reason for anyone to ever plant old scratchy St Augustine ever again. The new Saint Augustine grasses are just so much better in every aspect of turf quality.