Lawn Care for Centipede Grass

Overview

Centipede grass is a slow-growing, warm-season grass that's most commonly planted in lawns where winter temperatures stay mild. Centipede grass is medium-textured and aggressively-spreading, quickly growing to create a dense lawn. Native to China and Southeast Asia, centipede grass is somewhat shade tolerant and requires only the most basic maintenance. Because it grows slowly, centipede grass lawns don't demand very frequent mowing. Centipede grass grows best in low-traffic areas with loose, well-draining and neutral to low pH soils.

Step 1

Water your centipede grass in the absence of rainfall once every three to five days to provide ½ inch of water. Water the lawn during winter only in times of drought of prolonged dry spells.

Step 2

Mow your centipede grass lawn for the first time in spring before the grass reaches more than 1 ½- to 2-inches tall. Mow the grass to 1 inch in height.

Step 3

Mow the centipede grass lawn once every one or two weeks to maintain a grass height of 1 ½ inches in summer, mowing before the grass reaches 2-inches tall. Increase the mowing height to 2 inches about three weeks before the first anticipated frost.

Step 4

Feed your centipede grass lawn several times per year to provide 1 to 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn. In mid- to late spring, apply ½ to 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, and then apply another ½ to 1 pound of nitrogen in summer before mid-August.

Step 5

Fill in any bare spots in your centipede grass lawn by laying sod or seeding at a rate of ¼ to ½ pound per 1,000 square feet of lawn area. Keep the seedbed or newly-laid sod moist by watering daily for the first two weeks. The best time to renovate your centipede grass lawn is in May.

Step 6

Control annual weeds like crabgrass and goosegrass by applying a pre-emergent herbicide to your centipede grass lawn in late winter to early spring, or by applying a post-emergent herbicide in late spring after the weeds emerge.

Step 7

Apply a broadleaf post-emergent herbicide in summer to control perennial broadleaf weeds like knotweed and spurge. Apply an herbicide containing sethoxydim to your centipede grass lawn in summer to control grassy weeds. Get rid of winter annual weeds in your centipede grass lawn by applying a selective herbicide like atrazine or simazine in November or December.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't apply certain herbicides like 2,4-D that aren't labeled for use on centipede grass, because these chemicals can severely damage or even kill your lawn. Always follow the instructions on the weed killer's label carefully. Don't fertilize your centipede grass lawn with nitrogen in fall or winter to give the grass a resting period. You shouldn't feed the lawn with nitrogen after September 1, but you can apply 2 pounds of 0-0-50 NPK fertilizer (potassium sulfate) per 1,000 square feet of lawn in fall to strengthen the centipede grass and prepare it for winter.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden hose or irrigation system
  • Lawnmower
  • Nitrogen fertilizer
  • Centipede grass sod or seed
  • Pre-emergent herbicides
  • Post-emergent herbicides
  • Iron sulfate
  • 0-0-50 NPK fertilizer (potassium sulfate)

References

  • Clemson University Extension: Centipedegrass Maintenance Calendar

Who Can Help

  • American-Lawns.com: Centipede Grass
Keywords: centipede grass care, centipede grass lawn, centipede lawn maintenance

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.