Care of Centipede Grass

Overview

Centipede is a warm-weather, sun-loving grass that is popular in many southern U.S. states. This slow-growing, light green grass requires little maintenance as a rule, although it does need special care regarding watering and mowing. In addition, this grass is best used in low-traffic areas where it won't be damaged by pet activities--dogs can easily dig it up--or human activities. It is not a suitable grass for playgrounds for sports fields.

Step 1

Water new centipede lawns frequently enough to keep soil moist. Centipede grass.com advises watering to a depth of at least 4 to 8 inches each time. This encourages new grass to develop a strong, deeper root system, which will help it survive periods of drought. After centipede grass is established, water it as often as necessary to maintain a lush green lawn. The frequency will depend on your weather conditions. According to pikenursery.com, the grass will need 1 to 2 inches of water per week.

Step 2

Apply herbicides in the early spring, as suggested by centipede grass.com, and only then if it is absolutely necessary. North Carolina State Extension warns that centipede decline, which can lead to the whole lawn dying off, can occur due to centipede's sensitivity to herbicides. If you do use an herbicide, follow instructions carefully, making any recommended adjustments for centipede as stated on the product label.

Step 3

Mow centipede grass during the growing season to keep it about 1 inch high, according to pikenursery.com. You can allow it to get a little taller--to 2 inches--in summer, but North Carolina State Extension warns that centipede grass decline occurs more frequently when the grass is mowed at this height. Never mow centipede grass during a drought, warns pikenursery.com.

Step 4

Fertilize your centipede grass only once each growing season, in the spring when the grass is greening. Centipede will die out if you apply too much fertilizer or the wrong kind. Choose only centipede-specific fertilizers. These should be low in nitrogen and contain no phosphorous, according to pikenursery.com.

Step 5

Watch for fungal diseases such as brown patch and dollar spot. Look for brown patches in the lawn or light tan circles. Centipede is also prone to nematodes. If you observe any signs the grass is dying off (if it is changing color, for example), dig up a sample of the grass and take it to your local garden center or extension service for a diagnosis. It won't do much good to treat for nematodes if the problem is overfertilization or fungus, and vice versa. At this time, you should also either test the soil yourself with a soil ph kit, or bring in a soil sample with the grass sample. Centipede grass prefers ph of 5.0 to 5.5--higher or lower and grass may exhibit problems. Amending the soil can often help with this, but you must know the ph in order to know which amendments to add.

Things You'll Need

  • Sprinkler
  • Lawn mower
  • Herbicides
  • Fertilizer
  • Soil ph testing kit

References

  • Centipedegrass.com: Centipede grass maintenance
  • North Carolina State University: Problems on Centipede grass
  • Pikesnursery.com: Centipede Grass Care

Who Can Help

  • American-lawns.com: Centipede Grass
Keywords: care of centipede grass, watering centipede grass, growing centipede grass

About this Author

Corey M. Mackenzie is a professional freelance writer with knowledge and experience in many areas. Corey received a B.A. with honors from Wichita State University and has been a writer for over two decades. Corey specializes in pets, interior decorating, health care, gardening, fashion, relationships, home improvement and forensic science. Corey's articles have appeared in Garden Guides, Travels and other websites online.