Looking for ways to improve your curb appeal? Growing centipede grass is a great way to spruce up your front lawn or backyard.
In this article, we’ll dive into the details on why you should consider adding centipede grass to your home as well as the different types of centipede grass and how it compares to other types of grass.
In this article:
- What is Centipede Grass?
- Centipede Grass Quick Care
- What Does Centipede Grass Look Like?
- Centipede Grass Advantages & Disadvantages
- Types of Centipede Grass
- How to Grow Centipede Grass
- Centipede Grass Care
- Centipede Grass Issues and Diseases
- Weed Control
- Where can I buy centipede grass seed?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is Centipede Grass?
Centipede grass is popular among many homeowners and landscaping artists because of its low maintenance.
This type of grass does not require much attention compared to other types of lawns. It is also known for its excellent tolerance to heat. However, this type of grass grows well in a particular climate with certain soil requirements.
Centipede Grass Quick Care
- Common name: Centipede Grass
- Species: Eremochloa ophiuroides
- Texture: Medium
- Sun tolerance: Full sun and shade
- Cold tolerance: Fair (damage possible if below 15)
- Shade tolerance: Fair
- Rate of establishment: Slow
- Mowing height: Medium
- Height: 1 to 3 inches
- Hardiness zones: 7 to 9
- Germination: 21-28 days
- Aeration: During the growing season except for the green-up phase in early spring.
- Winterization: Does not need fall fertilizer or winterization feeding.
- Winter hardiness: Prone to winter injury. Grows well in Georgia and Atlanta.
- Drought tolerance: Drought tolerant to drought intolerant.
What Does Centipede Grass Look Like?
Centipede grass is commonly referred to as lazy man’s grass due to the fact that it does not require too much maintenance.
The upkeep is easier compared to other grasses such as Bermuda grass. The grass is often yellow-green in color with stems that grow horizontally and once it takes root, it will form new plants. Centipede grass grows slowly compared to other forms of grasses.
Centipede Grass Advantages & Disadvantages
There are plenty of reasons why you should consider using centipede grass on your lawn. Here are some of the pros and cons of using centipede grass.
- Requires less maintenance
- Grows well in acidic, sandy soils
- Adapts well to low fertility conditions
- Hard freezes can damage the leaves
- Not suitable for very heavy traffic
- Cannot handle drought conditions
Types of Centipede Grass
Common Centipede Grass
Variety: Seed and vegetatively-propagated
TifBlair Centipede Grass
- Seeds: Large
- Tolerance: Extreme and cold conditions
- Soil: Highly tolerant to acidic soil and aluminum soil
- pH range: 5 to 6.5
- Fertilization: Sparingly
Oaklawn Centipede Grass
- Sun exposure: Full sun or partial shade
- Variety: Vegetatively-propagated
- Texture: Medium
- Growth: Slow growth
- Drought tolerance: Superior cold and drought
- Resistance: Moderately-resistant to heat, insect damage
Raleigh Centipede Grass
- Sun exposure: Shade
- Texture: Medium
- Color: Medium green
- Heat tolerance: Good
- Cold tolerance: Excellent
- Drought tolerance: Fair
- Resistance: Disease-resistant
- Mowing height: 2 to 4 inches
Hammock Centipede Grass
- Tolerance: Heat and drought
- Color: Rich and dark (darker green)
Tennessee Hardy Centipede Grass
- Variety: Vegetatively-propagated
- Tolerance: Cold weather
AU Centennial Centipede Grass
- Variety: Vegetatively-propagated dwarf/semi-dwarf
- Sod: Thick, low-growing
- Seed Shorter seed heads with smaller inter-nodes
- Soil tolerance: Alkaline
- Temperature tolerance: Low temperature
How to Grow Centipede Grass
Here are some of the conditions you need to consider when growing centipede grass.
Centipede grass takes the longest to grow. The first step in growing a centipede grass seed is to till the area where you would like it to grow. Then level the area using a rake. Remove any signs of grass before tilling or use an herbicide.
However, wait for one to two weeks before moving to the next area. Cover the area for two to four weeks to kill the old grass.
Seed Germination Time
The coverage may vary between three to 18 months. With proper care, the centipede grass can be established in two to three years.
The most ideal time to plant is in late spring or early summer. During this time, the soil temperature is over 70 without any risk of freezing. It can two to four weeks for the seeds to germinate
Best Time to Plant Centipede Grass
Centipede grass thrives during the warm season. This seasonal grass should be planted in late spring or early summer.
However, summer is the best planting season with sufficient temperatures for faster germination.
Do not plant this grass later than August since it may not reach the maturity stage before winter arrives.
How long does it take centipede grass to grow from seed?
Centipede grass can take up to 30 days to germinate with warm and moist soil conditions. However, some seeds may germinate faster while others may grow longer. Seed growth depends on the condition of the soil and weather.
How to Make Centipede Grass Spread
One way to keep your centipede grass healthy and growing is to fertilize it. The grass spreads across the law through its stems which eventually grow roots and grass blades. As it spreads, the lawn will start to thicken. Make sure you water, weed, and mow it regularly.
Centipede Grass Care
Centipede grass thrives well at a pH level of 5.5 to 6.0. If the soil has a higher pH level, you can add sulfur to lower it as long as the air temperature falls below 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Centipede grass fertilizer
This type of grass does not respond well to heavy fertilization. However, it works best when it receives a regular dose of nitrogen. The best time to apply fertilizer is a few weeks after the grass becomes green which usually takes place in mid-May.
Apply a phosphorus-free fertilizer with two pounds of nitrogen for every 1,000 square feet. Use a product that is specifically formulated for centipede grass.
How much water does centipede grass need?
Centipede grass requires one inch of water weekly to keep its color even during the summertime.
This grass requires frequent watering with sandy soil at least 0.5 inches of water every three days.
This type of grass requires aeration. However, the frequency of application depends on the type of soil.
When you aerate the soil, it will make the soil softer and looser so that it can absorb water properly. At the same time, it allows the soil to breathe and the roots to grow in.
When and how to prune?
The height of centipede grass is usually between one and a half to two inches. It should only reach three inches when the grass is newly installed. You should mow this grass every 10 to 14 days.
What happens to centipede grass in winter?
Centipede is a warm-season grass and can become dormant during winter. To prepare it for winter, raise the mower blades to two inches during late fall and mow the centipede grass. Avoid overseeding in fall with ryegrasses.
The best way to propagate centipede grass is to reseed. Before seeding, the area should be smoothly raked, cleared of debris, tilled, and leveled. Mix 1/3 pound of the seeds with one gallon of fine sand for every 1,000 sq. ft. of soil.
Use a seed spreader or manually spread the mixture over the area. Make sure to roll the area and water it. Water regularly, especially in the first three weeks.
Using seeds and plugs is inexpensive but more labor-intensive. The process can take up to three or four weeks compared to sodding.
If you are trying to grow centipede grass next to another type of grass, bear in mind that it may be more difficult to establish new grass. Use a sod cutter to remove the existing grass or use a non-selective weed killer. Take away all dead grass before you start tilling. Then cover the entire area with a barrier or a tarp.
Wait for two to four weeks for it to get rid of the old grass. This will also prevent the old grass from re-establishing itself as you plant your new centipede grass.
Centipede Grass Issues and Diseases
The brown patches in the centipede grass tend to crop up during spring and fall season when the temperature is mild and the moisture level is high. The colors can turn to brown or gray.
To avoid this, make sure you do not over fertilize. At the same time, avoid feeding the grass when the weather is hot and humid. Apply fungicide when necessary.
The patches of yellow are caused by fungal diseases. It often develops from poor maintenance, wet weather or nutritional problems. Apply water only when needed and avoid using fertilizer with high nitrogen content. Get rid of infected grass to control the problem.
The appearance of red patches can be caused by the infestation of spittle bugs that feed on the grass. To get rid of these critters, mow the grass to get the right height of between one to one and a half inches.
Iron chlorosis is a form of deficiency and transforms the grass into a bright yellow color. To avoid this, mix two oz. of ferrous sulfate in three to five gallons of water and apply it to every 1,000 sq. ft. of grass.
Centipede decline is signaled by bright yellow and dead patches of grass that usually take place in the spring and summer.
This is followed by warm winter with cold springs or cold winter. This can be caused by applying too much nitrogen tor high pH levels which add stress to the grass.
Hence, reduce the application of nitrogen and change your mowing pattern to prevent buildup. Once you determine the infected area, spray it with two oz. of sulfate for every 1,000 sq. ft. of grass to manage the decline. You can also have your soil sampled to check if it is the one causing the decline.
To control the weeds, apply a pre-emergent herbicide during the early months of the year particularly mid-February for people living in the coastal and central areas while those in the mountain area should do this around mid-March.
You’ll need to apply a second application 8 to 10 weeks after the first application. This will enable you to have longer control of warm-season weeds.
Meanwhile, for existing weeds, apply a post-emergent herbicide. In case the weeds start to grow while the grass is starting to green, wait until the grass has fully greened before applying it. In the meantime, just mow the weeds.
Where can I buy centipede grass seed?
This low maintenance grass is easy to find. There are many sellers online who offer centipede grass.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will centipede grass overtake Bermuda?
Centipede and Bermuda grass are warm-weather grasses and are both popularly used in lawns.
Bermuda grass is more aggressive than centipede and will take over the latter unless it is completely removed from your lawn. However, Bermuda grass is stubborn and will keep coming back.
To prevent it from taking over your centipede grass, you can apply an herbicide to get rid of it entirely or by plastic mulching after you’ve cut and dug out the roots.
Is centipede grass shade tolerant?
Centipede grass is also an aggressive grass but less aggressive than Bermuda grass. However, it is more tolerant of shade than Bermuda but less tolerant to other types of grasses such as zoysia and St. Augustine.
How to get rid of centipede grass?
If you want to get rid of your centipede grass, you need to be ready to take on the task as it has a very deep root system. If you try to dig it out, it can still reestablish itself, especially if the stolons are left behind.
Centipede grass is often planted in mild-winter climates and usually thrives in hardiness zones eight and nine.
In this area the fluctuating warm and cold temperature may kill it naturally. However, you may also use chemicals to get rid of it completely. Glosyphate is known to kill centipede grass and should be applied in the afternoon when the weather is sunny.
Centipede Grass vs. Bermuda Grass
Both centipede and Bermuda grass come from the turf species and commonly used to fill lawns in the South area. However, each has its own characteristics and issues. If you are choosing between the two, it may depend on your personal needs and lawn requirements to make it work for you.
While both are warm-season grass, Bermuda thrives in hardiness zones 7 to 10 while centipede grows best in seven to eight.
Centipede grass is more shade tolerant than Bermuda but tolerates salt better. Hence, making Bermuda grass the preferred choice for areas near the ocean as well athletic fields. If you prefer a low maintenance grass, centipede grass may be your best choice as Bermuda grass tend to require more frequent mowing.
Centipede Grass vs. St. Augustine Grass
The main difference between centipede and St. Augustine grass is their variety and color. St. Augustine comes in three varieties such as Bitter Blue, Palmetto, and Floratum. It is more shade tolerant than centipede and does not require much sun.
The grass also has a distinct blue-green color but is very sensitive to the chinch bug.
Centipede grass, on the other hand, is more tolerant of cold. It only requires at least six hours of sun. Centipede grass is also easier to maintain than Augustine but may have more issues in the long run. Both are aggressive types of grass.
Centipede Grass vs. Zoysia Grass
Most people choose between centipede and zoysia grass when it comes to low maintenance lawn. These warm-season grasses are both natives of Southeast Asia which means they thrive well in heat and humidity. Since they grow slowly, it requires less frequent mowing.
Zoysia is often used in golf fields and brings out the green color in spring. This grass can take heavy traffic as it has deep roots and heavy sods. Centipede grass, on the other hand, has a more yellowish-green color with a coarser texture than zoysia. It is mostly seen in parks.
Both are drought resistant but zoysia requires more watering while centipede is often watered as needed. With zoysia’s thicker sod, it has a lower risk of contracting diseases and insect infestation.
Centipede grass or lazy man’s grass is a popular choice for people who prefer low maintenance grass as it requires less attention compared to other types of grasses used in the same region. This grass is also known for its superior tolerance to heat. Hence, it is a favorite among lawn owners who want a beautiful lawn but with minimal upkeep.
It’s an excellent choice for many homeowners. However, be reminded that this type of grass grows in a specific climate as well as soil conditions making it a limited choice for lawn owners. Centipede grass can be commonly seen primarily in the South region.
If you are planning on growing or propagating centipede on your lawn, make sure you have all the information first before you start planting the seeds.
Consider the environment, climate, temperature, region, and soil type to know if the area is suitable to grow centipede grass. Make a list of all the requirements and techniques needed to maintain the grass. Just follow this guide to help you achieve a healthy and green centipede grass.