From South Carolina to Florida and throughout the Gulf Coast up to Texas, centipede grass is among the most often used warm-season grasses for lawns at private residences. The grass derives its name from the way the stolons sprout short, establish stems that resemble centipedes.
The grass is known as “the lazy man’s grass” since it requires little upkeep despite growing slowly—it takes around two years to establish a firm lawn. Compared to other warm-season turfgrasses, the hue is paler. Because it cannot sustain heavy foot traffic, centipede grass is not the ideal option for backyards with lots of activity.
Although centipede grass originated in China and Southeast Asia, it has been present in the United States since 1916, when seeds were first introduced. What is referred to be a warm-season grass is 1 centipede. Accordingly, its most fruitful growing period is in the warm months of late spring through summer. Compared to many other warm-season grasses, centipede grass is more sensitive to cold. However, this perennial may weather winters year after year when grown in warm areas.
The needs of the soil and climate are what primarily limit the usage of centipede as a lawn grass. Warm winters suit Centipede’s requirements in the sandy, acidic soils of the Southeast, from the Carolinas through the Southern Coastal Plains to the Texas Gulf Coast. Winters up north are too cold for it to survive. Similar to this, the American Southwest’s soils are too acidic for Centipede grass to thrive properly.
Despite the centipede’s exceptional heat tolerance, it cannot withstand drought. That is also another reason why Centipede thrives in the Southeast and its considerable annual rainfall. Centipede has a shallower root system than most other warm-season grasses. That means maintaining higher levels of attention and irrigation during dry spells. However, as normal conditions are restored, Centipede quickly bounces back from stress.
Unlike warm-season Zoysia and Bermudagrass, centipede grass does not truly go dormant throughout the winter.1 Centipede may stay green all winter in regions with very mild winters. However, because it doesn’t hibernate, the winter cold can harm it. Centipedes can suffer harm when the temperature drops, and recurring injuries during the winter can be fatal.
Contrary to Bermudagrass, Centipede rarely needs dethatching. Sandy soils often don’t require aeration of the lawn either. Unlike many warm-season lawns, centipede grass does not tolerate being overseeded for winter color. Competition from other plants may undermine Centipede’s root structure and result in the failure of the grass.
Among common warm-season lawn grasses, centipede has the slowest rate of growth. Stolons, which are creeping above-ground stems, are used to propagate it. Centipede gradually grows into a thick lawn, but it recovers slowly from heavy traffic and does not withstand it well. It is less salt tolerant than Bermudagrass but more shade tolerant.
Centipede seed performance depends on the right kind of soil preparation and planting circumstances. A natural mulch component is part of Pennington Centipede Grass Seed and Mulch, which enhances spreadability and promotes germination by holding onto moisture. These advantages are combined with TifBlair, a Centipede variety with greater cold tolerance, in Pennington TifBlair Centipede Grass Seed and Mulch.
As centipede grass grows slowly, it’s important to keep weeds in check. Centipede grass is susceptible to some herbicides, so before using one, make sure it may be used on it by carefully reading the label.
It is advised to start with a mowing height of two inches for established centipede grass in the spring and progressively lower the mowing height in small increments each time you mow to a final mowing height of 1.5 to 1 inch. Check the lawn after lowering the mowing height. Reset it to the original height if it appears bare or scalped.
Increase the mowing height by 1/4 to 1/2 inch to protect the grass during the hot summer and as the weather turns cooler in the fall.
When the thatch is more than 14 inch thick, dethatch your centipede lawn.
For light centipede grass to grow into a robust lawn, it needs complete sunlight. In the shade, it does not thrive.
Ideal soil is sandy, somewhat acidic soil. Before you plant centipede grass, measure the pH of your soil and add acid if necessary because the grass does not thrive in high pH environments.
Although centipede grass doesn’t require very fertile soil, it does require at least six inches of topsoil to promote turf growth.
Saline soils are not suitable for centipede grass.
The arid soils in that region of the country tend to be more alkaline and deficient in iron, both of which are unsuitable conditions for centipede grass, which is why it is not grown there.
Centipede grass thrives in climates with less than 40 inches of annual precipitation, but during periods of drought, it can display symptoms of moisture stress, such as withering and discolouration. It needs to be watered to a depth of four to six inches when irrigation is used. Light, superficial irrigation will simply promote unwelcome shallow root development. You will need to water more regularly if your soil is sandy.
The right climate is necessary for centipede grass. It cannot tolerate the cold.
The grass will typically turn brown when the temperatures decrease in the fall. It returns to green whenever the weather warms up in the spring or after a prolonged warm spell in the winter. Hard freezes, though, particularly if they happen frequently, can cause damage, which shows up as dead turf patches in the spring.
When compared to most other turfgrasses, centipede grass requires less fertilizer. Giving it more fertilizer than it requires can have a negative impact by making the turf more vulnerable to cold damage. When the grass is dark green instead of its normal medium to light green tint, that is one indication that overfertilization has taken place.
In most cases, one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year is adequate. This total should ideally be split evenly across two to three fertilizations, with the first one taking place in the spring and the second and third in the summer.
Growing Centipede Grass from Seed Centipede grass can be planted as sod, plugs, or sprigs or grown from seed.
Centipede grass should be sown in May or June since the later you sow it, the more watering it will require throughout the summer and the more prone it will be to cold harm. This is due to the fact that when the temperatures drop in the fall, the grass is not yet well-established.
Per 1,000 square feet, sow 1/4 to 1/3 of a pound of seeds. Roll the soil with a lawn roller if at all possible. Follow the guidelines for sowing a grass from seed, giving it only a moderate watering and maintaining moisture. After sowing, germination takes place 14 to 28 days later.
There are a few things you should do to keep your centipede grass even if wintertime maintenance is low. If there hasn’t been any rain for a few weeks, make sure to water your lawn to prevent it from drying out. Before the first frost, treat any weeds, fertilize, and cut the grass to a height of 2 inches. Throughout the winter, keep the height at 2 inches.
Large patch, commonly known as brown patch, is the most typical problem. It is a fungal disease that develops gradually but can kill up to 20 feet of grass at a time. Too much nitrogen fertilizer, too much water, cool weather in the fall, winter, or spring, soil temperatures between 40 and 70 degrees F, a thatch layer of more than 12 inch, and inadequate drainage are just a few of the causes. Large patches can be treated with specialized fungicides, but it’s important to apply them in the fall when it’s below 70 degrees F.
Centipede grass decline can impact established older turf. Patches of grass that don’t grow green in the spring and finally die are its symptoms. A soil pH above 6.0, an excess of nitrogen fertilizer, a lack of dethatching, and drought stress are the causes of the disease.
Both of these diseases can be prevented and managed with proper grass maintenance.
Stolons, which are above-ground runners or stems that produce new blades and roots, are how centipede grass spreads. You can gather the cut stolons as you edge your grass. Put some soil over them and place them where you’d like additional grass to grow. Let the blades protrude so they can take in the sunlight. Your lawn will thicken and spread as a result of the stolons’ sprouting.
Using the plug technique described above is another approach to spread centipede grass. You can remove plugs from your lawn’s healthy portions and place them in the sparse spots. Just make sure to adhere to the rest of the irrigation and tilling instructions.
To make your lawn thicker, you can overseed it. Since seeds only germinate in mild temperatures, avoid overseeding in the winter.
Although a centipede grass lawn requires less upkeep, there are a few things to be aware of:
Brown patch: The Rhizoctonia solani fungus spreads brown and sparse patches of grass across the lawn. When it’s hot and rainy, the effect is stronger. Brown patch can be effectively treated by reducing shade and using fertilizer that is high in nitrogen.
Dollar spot: Sclerotinia homeocarpa is a fungus that forms tiny, brown patches that resemble sand dollars. You can use neem oil, a natural fungicide, to eradicate the dollar spot.
Fairy rings: A variety of fungi can produce little, dark-brown crescents that eventually expand to enormous sizes.
Nematodes: The color of the lawn changes from green to yellow as a result of these microscopic pests feeding on the centipede grass root systems. Wormwood is a plant that naturally eradicates nematodes. To help get rid of nematodes naturally, tear up some wormwood leaves, till the soil, add the leaves, and water.
Mole crickets, grubs, spittlebugs, ground pearls, and chinch bugs are some other pests. The trickiest of these to treat are ground pearls. If you discover ground pearls under your centipede grass, you might need to transfer to a tougher variety of grass or even switch to shrubs and trees.
Brown spots that appear in the early spring are referred to be centipede grass decline. It’s a widespread issue, and the patches frequently develop as a result of overfertilization. It is essential that you avoid overfertilizing centipede grass.
The plant sends out additional stolons above the earth in response to excessive fertilizing. Your lawn depends on strong stolons, yet they are extremely delicate. Your grass will experience temperature changes in the fall and winter if there are too many exposed stolons.
Centipede grass plugs can be laid down if you don’t want to use seed or sod. To begin, till the yard area where you intend to put the grass plugs and apply an additional layer of fertilizer. Get rid of any past grass growth there. The centipede grass plugs should then be installed using a sod plug drill bit. From each position, place the plugs about 1 foot apart.
Water the grass plugs thoroughly for 3–4 weeks, or until they are about 2 inches tall, as with the other installation techniques.
If you plant centipede grass in your yard, don’t worry if it doesn’t germinate and begin to grow right away. Centipede grass grows slowly and can take two to four weeks to adequately germinate. You must provide it with enough water throughout this time for it to grow healthily.
Centipede grass growth is highly dependent on the condition of the soil. Along with appropriate fertilizer and watering, you should attempt to keep your pH at an ideal 5.5. A soil testing kit that you can purchase from a nearby hardware store will allow you to check the acidity levels of your soil.
Centipede grass should only be mowed occasionally, at most every one to 1.5 inches. The thatch layer could get excessively thick if it is left on for too long. Maintaining sharp mower blades will reduce the likelihood of pulling grass out of the ground. Additionally, you should avoid walking on your centipede grass right after seeding and mowing.
Centipede grass can be thickened with proper care, but there are other ways to ensure your lawn looks fantastic as well. Making walkways or stepping stones on your lawn to reduce damage from foot traffic is one of the best methods to encourage your centipede grass to grow taller. If there are no trees on your lawn, centipede grass will also appear thicker and healthier since they deprive the grass of nutrients and water.
A wonderful, low-maintenance, drought-tolerant grass that grows well in warm regions is centipede grass. When creating a lawn in a region with hot summers and mild winters, centipede grass is a fantastic option. However, it might not function as effectively in places with chilly winters, a lot of people walking around, or a lot of shade.