Sod Comparison & Differences
St. Augustine vs. Tall Fescue

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

Cost

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

Between these two, Tall Fescue is typically on the pricier side with an average cost per square foot of $0.73. On a per pallet basis, which is usually how sod is sold, this comes out to roughly $362.50 per pallet.

St. Augustine on the other hand, is a more moderately priced at $0.70 per square foot (on average). This comes out to around $350.00 per pallet.

St. AugustineBudget Friendly
from$0.50 / sq ft
to$0.90 / sq ft
Tall Fescue
from$0.60 / sq ft
to$0.85 / 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?

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.

St. Augustine
Shade Tolerance8 / 10
Tall Fescue
Shade Tolerance7 / 10

Similarly, Tall Fescue has one of the better shade tolerances among grass types, performing well with around 4 hours of direct sunlight, ideal for dappled or intermittent shade.

Appearance

Which one looks better? You decide.

When choosing between sods like St. Augustine (pictured top) and Tall Fescue (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:

St. Augustine close up imageTall Fescue close up image

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.

Tall Fescue grows thick and green, with wider blades that create a hardy lawn; it's comfortable enough for playtime and stays resilient through rough and tumble activities.

Drought Tolerance

Which one needs more water?

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

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

Similarly, Tall Fescue is reasonably drought tolerant due to its deep root system, but it does best with occasional deep watering during 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, Tall Fescue is the better option between St. Augustine and Tall Fescue.

Grow Zones

Cold or warm weather - which do they prefer?

St. Augustine is well-suited for growth in warmer climates. The ideal temperature range for laying St. Augustine sod is between 75°F and 90°F.

St. Augustine
warm zones
Tall Fescue
transition zones
cool zones

Tall Fescue generally grows better in cool or moderate climates. When it comes to laying sod, the ideal range for Tall Fescue is between 60°F and 75°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, St. Augustine and Tall Fescue have somewhat different climatic preferences for optimal growth! Let's move on...

Traffic Tolerance

Which sod handles heavy foot traffic better?

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.

St. Augustine
Traffic Tolerance5 / 10
Tall Fescue
Traffic Tolerance7 / 10

On the other hand, Tall Fescue has good traffic tolerance with its deep roots, making it able to withstand a fair amount of play and use without giving up its lush appearance.

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

Establishment Rate

Which grass grows faster?

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.

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

Tall Fescue establishes at a moderate rate, presenting a robust, deep-rooted lawn that is heat and drought-tolerant, often recommended for transitional zones.

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?

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.

St. Augustine
Resistance5 / 10
Tall Fescue
Resistance6 / 10

Tall Fescue is fairly resistant to many pests, though it can encounter issues with brown patch and fusarium blight, especially in hot, humid weather.

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

Let's Pick a Winner

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

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: 4 for St. Augustine, 4 for Tall Fescue
  • Shade Tolerance: 8 for St. Augustine, 7 for Tall Fescue
  • Drought Tolerance: 6 for St. Augustine, 7 for Tall Fescue
  • Traffic Tolerance: 5 for St. Augustine, 7 for Tall Fescue
  • Establishment Rate: 7 for St. Augustine, 6 for Tall Fescue
  • Pest & Disease Resistance: 5 for St. Augustine, 6 for Tall Fescue

Drumroll please...

All in all, Tall Fescue comes out on top with a score of 37/60 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.