Centipedegrass (Eremochloa ophiuroides) is a slow-growing native of China. One of the sturdiest warm-season grasses, this low-maintenance grass requires infrequent mowing. Centipedegrass grows well in sandy soils with low fertility and is drought-tolerant. According to Master Gardeners at the Alabama Cooperative Extension office, centipedegrass does not tolerate lime or heavy fertilizers. In fact, it thrives with little more than an annual fertilizing, mowing and watering. For the quickest germination and greenest grass, plant centipedegrass in June or July.
Check the pH of the soil in the planting area. Centipedegrass requires soil with a pH of 5.0 to 5.5 to be protected from iron chlorosis, which will turn it yellow. Use a home testing kit or deliver a soil sample to your county cooperative extension office for analysis. Ask for recommendations of suitable soil amendments to correct your soil's pH.
Prepare the centipedegrass bed by tilling it to a depth of 8 inches. Remove any rocks and other debris from the bed and smash any large clods of soil with the gardening fork.
Add 10 pounds of fertilizer (16-4-8) per 1,000 square feet of planting bed to the soil. Work it in to a depth of 4 inches. Add any soil amendments recommended by the results of the soil pH test and mix those into the soil. Rake the bed until it is completely smooth, with no peaks or valleys.
Add half of the centipedegrass seed and sand to the seeder. Walk in north-to-south strips, sowing the seed as you go. Add the other half of the seed and sand to the seeder and broadcast the seed as you walk in east-to-west strips.
Roll the area with the lawn roller until the earth is packed.
Water the area with the fine mist setting on the hose.
Add a 3-inch layer of straw mulch over the planting area. The seeds should germinate within three to four weeks and your lawn will be established within two to three months.
Fertilize the centipedegrass lawn once a year, in early summer, with 15-0-15 fertilizer. Follow the rate suggested on the fertilizer package and water well after fertilizing.
Water the centipedegrass lawn deeply and allow the soil to dry out before watering again. Alabama Cooperative Extension agents suggest watering the lawn slowly, with a soaker hose or some other drip form of irrigation.
Mow a centipedegrass lawn no less than 1 and 1/2 inches tall. During dry periods, increase the height to 2 inches.