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How to Grow Centipede Grass

By Kelly Shetsky ; Updated September 21, 2017
Plant centipede grass seed on a prepared site.
grass image by palms from Fotolia.com

Centipede grass or Eremochloa Büse is native to China. It creates a fairly attractive lawn that needs minimal maintenance, which makes it popular among many homeowners. It has a medium texture and grows slowly but aggressively. Centipede does well when planted around walkways and flower beds because it's easy to control. Few pest problems affect the plant, however, it does not survive cold temperatures so it needs to be planted somewhere with mild winters. With the proper care, you can have a gorgeous, fully established, thick lawn in two to three years.

Grow centipede grass in areas that have full sunlight for best results. It can grow in some shade but does best in sun. Moderately acidic soil with a pH between 5 and 6 is best.

Plant centipede grass in the late spring or early summer. The soil temperature should be over 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with no danger of frost.

Remove debris. If your yard has a lot of weeds, use an herbicide to kill them. You must apply it several weeks in advance so it does not affect grass growth. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Loosen the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches with a rototiller. Fill in low-lying spots with topsoil. Rake until level.

Add 1 inch of compost, 1 inch of sand and a starter fertilizer with a high content of phosphorus to the planting area. Till the substances into the top inch of dirt.

Use a hand spreader or mechanical spreader to disperse seed. Fill it with 1/2 to 1 pound of centipede grass seed per 1,000 square feet of land. Use more seed to accomplish a faster establishment and high-density lawn.

Rake grass seed into the very top of the soil. The goal is to cover the seeds slightly to protect them and keep them in place.

Water the grass seed with a sprinkler set to an oscillating setting. Apply water at least twice a day for five to 10 minutes at a time. Continue this for two to four weeks, which is how long it takes centipede grass to germinate. Once it does, reduce watering to 15 to 30 minutes daily.

Wait at least one month before feeding centipede grass with fertilizer. Use one that is formulated for this type of grass. Follow manufacturer's instructions.

Look for signs of nematode infestation. The worms damage centipede grass and cause it to wilt, even with regular watering. Keep them away by encouraging root development. Perform less frequent but deep waterings, apply fertilizer with potassium and phosphorus and cut back on products containing nitrogen.

Cut centipede grass to a medium height. The first time you mow each season, keep the grass longer.


Things You Will Need

  • Rototiller
  • Rake
  • Soil
  • Sand
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Broadcast spreader
  • Grass seed
  • Mechanical or hand spreader
  • Sprinkler
  • Water


  • Do not plant centipede grass in climates that have cold winters. It doesn't enter a dormant state during the winter and is killed by hard freezes.
  • Avoid planting grass seed in the fall because the seedlings may be killed by cold weather.

About the Author


Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.