Thatching in Saint Augustine grass is discussed frequently on this site, and that’s mainly because it is a real trait which is prevalent in all St Augustine grasses that some people may like, while others may not prefer, this thatch is also inclusive of the new soft Saint Augustine grasses too. And the main reason why thatch can be of at least some concern to St Augustine lawns over other lawn types is because the thatch layer in Saint Augustine grass continues to build onto the height of the Saint Augustine lawn, often adding many many inches of old dead stolons onto the lawn surface.
These traits are inherent in Saint Augustine grass when it is grown as a lawn.
However, there is one huge variant in all of this, a variant which will cause Saint Augustine grass in one area to develop much less thatch, while if grown in another garden area the Saint Augustine lawn can grow substantial amounts of thatch.
Saint Augustine Grass and Full Sunlight
That single variant which determines how much thatch a St Augustine lawn will grow, is whether or not that lawn is being grown in direct sunlight.
The more Saint Augustine grass is exposed to direct sunlight hours per day, the more it can develop that inherent thick layer of thatch at a faster speed. Meaning that when Saint Augustine grass is used as a lawn in open full sunny areas, then the natural response of the Saint Augustine will be to grow its thatch layer denser and thicker, and at a faster rate.
Saint Augustine Grass and Partial Shade
In stark contrast, when we observe many Saint Augustine lawns being grown in partial shade, the thickness of the thatch layer is so often diminished.
Saint Augustine grass is a grass best suited for partly shady areas. It always has been, our grandparents and their parents knew this when they grew their Saint Augustine lawns in years gone by. But for some unknown reason we seem to have forgotten what our forebears just knew.
Saint Augustine grass is naturally a very shade tolerant grass and is one of the best, least invasive and durable grass types for this very purpose of when we want to grow a lawn in areas where there is partial shade, and in partial shaded areas where other lawn types such as Bermudagrass just will not cope.
Also when growing Saint Augustine grass in partial shaded areas, we should also remember to mow the lawn higher than would normally be done if the lawn were growing in full sun conditions.
Thatch is an inherent trait in all Saint Augustine grasses, and can become at its worst when Saint Augustine grass is grown in positions of full sun.
Saint Augustine lawn is a fantastic shade tolerant grass, which develops far less thatch when grown for its best purpose and in its preferred position of at least some partial shade.
With these things in mind, while we love Saint Augustine grass, we must remember where to use this grass to achieve its best results as a home lawn, and try not to grow it in places where it doesn't rightly belong when we are wanting its best performance as a home lawn.