St Augustine Grass Runners: Causes + Fixes

Published Categorized as Warm-Season Grasses

Do you grow St. Augustine grass in Georgia? If yes, then you know how their runners can be a nuisance and huge pain to the gardener. These pesky plants grow above the grass blades, making your lawn look unsightly. St Augustine runners can quickly take over your property if not managed in time. Let’s discuss what causes St Augustine grass runners and how to get rid of them.

The main causes of St Augustine grass runners include compacted soil, improper mowing, over-fertilization, excessive thatch, and the application of heavy pre-emergent herbicides. You can eliminate these runners by mowing properly, dethatching, performing core aeration, and proper lawn care practices.

What are Grass Runners?

St Augustine Grass Runners

Grass spreads using above-ground runners, formally called stolons. These grass runners are shoots or stems of turfgrass that develop upward, running parallel to the ground surface. They keep creeping, and after a while, they form roots in the soil beneath, propagating new grass plants.

If you recently established a St. Augustine lawn from grass seeds, you can certainly spot these St Augustine grass stolons. Most people know this turf as grass with long runners because they grow 12-24 inches long.

What Causes St. Augustine Grass Runners?

Below are the five possible causes of not just St Augustine grass in Georgia alone but also why you may end up having a lawn with grass with long runners:

St. Augustine lawn is vulnerable to looping, where grass runners develop on the ground surface. What causes these runners include soil compaction and heavy application of pre-emergent herbicides, especially in spring.

Also, mowing too low, formation of excessive thatch, and over-fertilization result in the establishment of these runners.

Over-fertilizing your St Augustine lawn will result in soil pH problems and thatch formation, leading to looping.

How Do You Eliminate St. Augustine Runners?

Here are a few notable ways to deal with grass runners especially, St Augustine grass stolons:

1. Proper mowing

The quickest way of eliminating St. Augustine grass runners from your lawn is by mowing. However, you have to do it appropriately. First, set a proper mowing height, then cut the grass vertically instead of horizontally to remove thatch. Besides, use sharp blades and collect the grass clippings after mowing.

2. Dethatching

You can also fix the looping problem by dethatching regularly using a dethatcher. Excessive thatch build-up prevents air, water, and nutrients from penetrating the lawn. The runners form as this thatch acts as a barrier between the newly forming roots and the soil.

3. Aeration

Compacted soil prevents the roots from penetrating the soil, resulting in runner formation. Therefore, perform core aeration to create spaces in the ground. This makes it easier for grassroots to infiltrate the surface.

4. Proper lawn care

Improper fertilization and watering result in yellow St Augustine grass and looping. Also, these practices make the lawn susceptible to weeds, diseases, and pests.

You need to water your lawn carefully and avoid over-watering or under-watering. Also, be careful when top dressing and fertilizing your yard. Avoid excessive compost and fertilizer application to reduce chances of runner formation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What causes grass runners?

A: Usually, grass runners in lawns grow if the turf roots cannot penetrate the soil. This happens due to soil compaction, over-fertilization, improper mowing, excessive thatch in the yard, and applying excess pre-emergent herbicide.

Q: Can you transplant St Augustine runners?

A: It’s possible to plant St Augustine runners just like you plant grass seeds to establish a new lawn. You can cut the grass runners from your property and transplant them to bare spots or another yard. The most effective way of doing this is by cutting the runners with their roots, then plant in a new area. The method is called sprigging and is cheaper than buying sod.


If you grow St Augustine grass in Georgia, you understand how runners or stolons can be a nuisance to homeowners. They make the lawn unsightly and may take over your property if you fail to manage them in time.

The main causes of St Augustine grass runners are over-fertilization, improper mowing, compacted soil, excessive thatch, and heavy pre-emergent application. You can eliminate them by mowing properly, dethatching, performing core aeration, and proper lawn care practices.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *