Sod Comparison & Differences
Fine Fescue vs. St. Augustine

Let's dive into a side-by-side comparison of these two grasses. We're looking at everything from cost and looks to how well they stand up to drought, shade, and foot traffic. Stick around to see which one comes out on top!

Close up photo of Fine Fescue sod
Fine Fescue
vs
Close up photo of St. Augustine sod
St. Augustine

Cost

Which grass is typically more expensive, Fine Fescue or St. Augustine?

Between these two, St. Augustine is typically on the pricier side with an average cost per square foot of $0.70. On a per pallet basis, which is usually how sod is sold, this comes out to roughly $350.00 per pallet.

Fine Fescue on the other hand, is a more moderately priced at $0.60 per square foot (on average). This comes out to around $300.00 per pallet.

Fine FescueBudget Friendly
from$0.45 / sq ft
to$0.75 / sq ft
St. Augustine
from$0.50 / sq ft
to$0.90 / sq ft

Editor's note: It's important to remember that both of these are averages based on data from around the country so cost can vary depending on your location. Keep in mind this doesn't include other fees like delivery or installation.

See our sod calculator to get a comprehensive sod estimate.

Shade Tolerance

Which grass grows better in the shade?

Fine Fescue stands out for shade tolerance, needing as little as 3 to 4 hours of direct sun each day and flourishing even in heavily shaded lawn areas.

Fine Fescue
Shade Tolerance9 / 10
St. Augustine
Shade Tolerance8 / 10

Similarly, St. Augustine grass tolerates shade relatively well and can thrive with around 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, making it a fitting choice for yards with partial shade.

Appearance

Which one looks better? You decide.

When choosing between sods like Fine Fescue (pictured top) and St. Augustine (pictured bottom), personal preference plays a significant role, but understanding the nuances of each type's appearance can guide your decision. Here's what to consider:

Fine Fescue close up imageSt. Augustine close up image

Fine Fescue is all about the delicate look and feel; its fine blades knit together for a soft, green pasture that's easy on the eyes and gentle for your soles.

St. Augustine grass boasts a lush, deep green hue with broad, coarse blades that create a dense, cushiony turf, ideal for a warm, inviting lawn that's as pleasing to the touch as it is to the eye.

Drought Tolerance

Which one needs more water?

Fine Fescue is one of the more drought tolerant among cool-season grasses, able to survive dry conditions with minimal watering.

Fine Fescue
Drought Tolerance7 / 10
St. Augustine
Drought Tolerance6 / 10

Similarly, St. Augustine grass has moderate drought tolerance; it may need some extra care and water to stay green during extended dry spells.

Takeaway: If you're located in a somewhat dry and arid geographic region and are looking for a grass that can handle drought-like conditions, Fine Fescue is the better option between Fine Fescue and St. Augustine.

Grow Zones

Cold or warm weather - which do they prefer?

Fine Fescue generally grows better in cool or moderate climates. The ideal temperature range for laying Fine Fescue sod is between 60°F and 75°F.

Fine Fescue
transition zones
cool zones
St. Augustine
warm zones

St. Augustine is well-suited for growth in warmer climates. When it comes to laying sod, the ideal range for St. Augustine is between 75°F and 90°F. If you choose to lay outside of the ideal range, you can still have success, but it may take a longer time to esablish and require a bit more maintenance.

As you may have noticed, Fine Fescue and St. Augustine have somewhat different climatic preferences for optimal growth! Let's move on...

Traffic Tolerance

Which sod handles heavy foot traffic better?

Fine Fescue has lower traffic tolerance and is best for ornamental areas or yards that don’t see intense games and heavy footfall.

Fine Fescue
Traffic Tolerance3 / 10
St. Augustine
Traffic Tolerance5 / 10

On the other hand, St. Augustine grass is moderately tolerant to foot traffic, holding up to some back yard play and activity with a recovery that keeps your lawn looking full and lively.

Takeaway: If you're looking for a grass that can handle heavy foot traffic, St. Augustine is the better option between Fine Fescue and St. Augustine.

Establishment Rate

Which grass grows faster?

Fine Fescue is slow to establish but eventually forms a low-growing, fine-textured turf that's shade-tolerant and suited for cooler climates or less trafficked areas.

Fine Fescue
Establishment Rate6 / 10
St. Augustine
Establishment Rate7 / 10

St. Augustine grass, with its robust spreading habit and preference for warm climates, typically establishes quite readily, making it a popular choice for lush, green lawns in milder regions.

Net, net - if you're looking for a grass that establishes quickly, St. Augustine is the way to go.

Pest & Disease Resistance

Which handles pests better?

Fine Fescue, while resistant to most common pests, can sometimes be troubled by red thread and other fungal diseases, particularly in damp conditions. Overall, it's a solid choice if you're worried about pests.

Fine Fescue
Resistance7 / 10
St. Augustine
Resistance5 / 10

St. Augustine grass can struggle with pests like chinch bugs and diseases such as gray leaf spot, especially in humid, coastal regions, requiring proactive management.

TLDR - if you're looking for a grass that wards off pests and disease, Fine Fescue edges out the competition.

Let's Pick a Winner

Which sod is better, Fine Fescue or St. Augustine?

Alright it's time to count the scores up.

Most blogs or articles are going to give you a wishy washy "it's up to you" speil. That is definitely true. You'll need to choose based on your geographic conditions and what you like most looks-wise.

That being said, if we just compare the scores based on the following measures. Higher is better in this case.

  • Average Cost: 6 for Fine Fescue, 4 for St. Augustine
  • Shade Tolerance: 9 for Fine Fescue, 8 for St. Augustine
  • Drought Tolerance: 7 for Fine Fescue, 6 for St. Augustine
  • Traffic Tolerance: 3 for Fine Fescue, 5 for St. Augustine
  • Establishment Rate: 6 for Fine Fescue, 7 for St. Augustine
  • Pest & Disease Resistance: 7 for Fine Fescue, 5 for St. Augustine

Drumroll please...

All in all, Fine Fescue comes out on top with a score of 38/60 versus 35/60 for St. Augustine.

Thanks for reading! If you have any feedback or corrections for us, please email our editor at editor@sodcalculator.com.