Centipede Grass: Types, Problems, & How To Plant

What Is Centipede Grass?

It is one of the most popular turf grasses for lawns in the Southern part of the United States. It is the favorite of lawn owners due to its qualities including

  • Low maintenance needs
  • Excellent heat tolerance
  • Ability to grow in poor soils

The above qualities of this grass make it an ideal grass for warmer areas; and due to these qualities, it is also preferred by lawn owners interested in minimal upkeep.

It needs very less input and attention than other grasses.

Because of these reasons, centipede grass got its nickname, i.e. “the lazy man’s grass” or “poor man’s grass”.

This type of grass requires a relatively warm and wet climate, like in Southeast America.

This grass is native to Southeast Asia and China and was first introduced in the USA in 1916. The lush light green colored grass grows very slowly and it takes approximately 2 years for the grass to form a solid turf.

Here, one important thing to note is that this grass will not be the best choice for lawns or backyards with lots of activity as it is unable to endure high foot traffic well.

Its scientific name is Eremochloa Ophiuroides and is a grass species that belongs to the Poaceae family.

Keep reading this blog post to know more about how to plant and care for centipede grass.

Centipede Grass at a Glance

Scientific (Botanical) NameEremochloa Ophiuroides.
Plant typePerennial grass
Grass TextureMedium to Coarse
Grass ColorMedium to dark green
Average mature size (height)5 inches
Requirements for soil typeLoam, silt, and sandy
SensitivityAlkaline soil
Nutrition requirementsLimited
Bloom TimeSummer to fall
Drought ToleranceModerate
Hardiness zoneBetween 7 to 10
Wear ResistancePoor
Soil pH value5 to 6
Root systemRelatively shallow
Flower ColorInconspicuous
Traffic toleranceLow
Growth RateSlow
Disease ResistanceGood
SuitabilitySoutheast lawns
Native AreaSoutheast Asia and China

What Are The Types of Centipede Grass?

Centipede Grass has various varieties, each being developed to solve the deficits of centipede grass.

Types of Centipede Grass

1) TifBlair Centipede Grass

This grass was created from the seeds of common centipede grass in 1997 by the University of Georgia, Georgia. It overcame most of the shortcomings of the common centipede grass.

Its seeds are larger than conventional centipede grass making its handling easier during planting.

The deep and robust root system of TifBlair grass helps it to withstand extreme and cold conditions and retain its color during the early winter period, because of its deep and strong root system.

This grass when exposed to cold temperatures for a longer period, then its green color, like common centipede grass, fades to a dormant winter appearance.

Its tall stolons soon get covered with blades, allowing it to spread faster and form a dense cover over the ground, resulting in a dense weed-free lawn.

It is highly tolerant to acidic soils and soil aluminum.

Because of its inability to produce underground rhizomes, TifBlair centipede grass does not spread or invade flowerbeds or sidewalks.

Due to these reasons, it is extensively used in the mainland United States.

2) Oaklawn Centipede Grass

Oaklawn centipede grass was developed in 1965 by Oklahoma State University. It is bluish-green in color with a medium texture.

This cultivar has superior cold and drought tolerance. It is a slow-growing, vegetatively-propagated variety. Besides seeds, it can also be established from sod, sprigs, or plugs.

This type is moderately-resistant to disease, and insect damage.  It has a notable capacity to survive the heat but operates well in partial shade.

Oaklawn centipede grass is recommended for lawns that get full sun exposure.

3) Raleigh Centipede Grass

The Raleigh Centipede Grass is a medium green colored centipede grass that is fairly tolerant to drought. It has good tolerance to cold and heat.

This variety is resistant to disease and has a medium texture. It operates well in a shady area.

A mowing height of 2 to 4 inches is preferred for this variety.

4) Hammock Centipede Grass

Hammock centipede grass is more attractive due to its richer and darker color. It is more tolerant to drought and heat as compared to most of the other varieties of centipede grass.

It has narrower and shorter blades than other cultivars. If you are residing in a region with extreme conditions like Florida, then the Hammock centipede grass is the right choice for you.

5) Tennessee Hardy Centipede Grass

Tennessee Hardy Centipede Grass was developed by Tennessee University. Its ability to withstand cold weather makes this grass stand out.

Besides seeds, this variety can also be started from sprigs, plugs, or sod.

6) AU Centennial Centipede Grass

AU Centennial Centipede grass was first released in 1983 by Auburn University and is actually a vegetatively-propagated dwarf variety of centipede grass.

It is thicker than the common centipede grass and rivals the hammock variety in terms of color richness.

This variant is thicker than the common centipede grass. It also has smaller inter-nodes and shorter seed heads than other variants.

It is vegetatively propagated and forms a thick low growing sod that tolerates low temperatures better than TifBlair and the Tennessee hardy variants.

Thus, it is a good choice for lawns with slightly cold temperatures.

How And When To Plant Centipede Grass?

There are various ways to plant centipede grass which include planting from seed, sod, and plugs. Each method requires a different time, method, and cost. Let’s understand how to plant centipede grass through different methods and when to plant i.e. what is the ideal time to plant this grass through various approaches.

Planting centipede grass seed

The cheapest option to grow centipede grass is through seeds. But you will need to put extra time and effort into planting seeds. Also, it takes the longest to convert the seeds into grass.

The steps included in planting centipede grass through seeds are:

  • Till the portion of land where you want to sow the seeds.
  • With the help of a roller or a rake, bring the whole plowed area to the same level.
  • In case you already have another grass in that area, you should remove it before beginning the tilling process.
  • The next step is to spread the centipede grass seeds over that area. Spread 0.25 to 0.5 pounds of centipede grass seed per 1,000 square feet.
  • The spreading process can be made easier by mixing the seeds with sand. Ideally, you should mix 3 gallons of sand with 1 pound of centipede grass seeds and then use a spreader.
  • After planting the centipede grass seed, keep the soil moist until the sprouts are about 2 inches tall. It is normal if you don’t see grass for the first 10 to 30 days.
  • You can also fertilize the area, if you wish, with a high-nitrogen fertilizer.

This grass is best suited for warm and temperate climates, thus to boost a good yield warmer months are preferred for seeding. The months which should be considered ideal for planting centipede grass seeds are May, June, and July. These grass seeds need warm soil (at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit) to grow.

Planting Centipede Grass With Sod

Opposite to the seeds, centipede grass sod is the fastest approach to growing centipede grass, which requires less time and effort. Also, it is the costliest approach as compared to the other ones.

The steps included in planting centipede grass through sod are:

  • Till the soil of the portion of the land where you want to grow the grass.
  • Make sure to mix nitrogen-rich fertilizer and organic material in the soil while tilling.
  • Now lay the strips of the centipede grass sod over the plowed soil.
  • Assure that the edges of the sod strips should touch each other, but their ends are staggered to form a brick pattern.
  • Use the centipede sod staples to attach the sod to the soil. In the next step, roll down the sod and water thoroughly up to 1 inch.
  • Keep the sod well watered and the first inch of soil damp for the next 3 to 4 weeks.

The recommended months for sodding are between April and September because the ground and air temperatures during these months are warm enough to boost healthy root growth.

The ideal temperature for sodding centipede grass is more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. During sodding, there shouldn’t be any threat of extreme chills or frost overnight as these will kill the grass.

Planting Centipede Grass Plugs

Growing Centipede grass from plugs falls in the middle in terms of cost, labor, and time as compared to growing centipede grass from seeds or sod.

The steps included in planting centipede grass plugs are:

  • Till the portion of the land where you want to grow centipede grass
  • Add nitrogen-rich fertilizer and organic material to the soil during tilling the land.
  • In case you already have any type of grass planted in this area, first consider removing it before tilling the soil.
  • In the next step, sow the centipede grass plugs about 1 foot (31 cm.) apart with the help of a sod plug drill bit.
  • After inserting the plugs, water the area properly.
  • Keep the area well watered for the next 3 to 4 weeks.

What Are The Problems That Might Occur With Centipede Grass?

The seven most common centipede grass problems are as below:

1. Effects Of The Weather

The problem with Centipede grass is that it is not favorable in all types of weather conditions. Warm weather is favorable for this grass but it cannot handle drought very well and can get damaged in the absence of required water.

If you don’t water it properly (especially in dry weather), then this grass will start drying out and become very crispy.

If still left unwatered, it will ultimately turn brown colored and dry out entirely.

So, to prevent the grass from drying out in dry weather, it is essential to provide at least an inch of water per week.

Also, for this grass to thrive, it is crucial that it get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day.

When this grass doesn’t get proper sunlight, it gets stressed and your lawn may look sparse. At this time you may notice some bald spots in your lawn. These spots (or patches) can become susceptible to weed growth.

2. Over Fertilizing

Over-fertilizing your grass might be like taking extra care of your grass, but this is not correct. Putting on extra fertilizer, especially in the off-season may damage centipede grass. So, it is better to apply the fertilizer in an adequate quantity and the best time for this is early summer months.

The application of too much phosphorus and nitrogen on this grass can adversely affect its health. So, the fertilizer should not contain excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus.

3. Thatch

Thatch is a layer of organic matter (like dead grass blades and roots) that build-up on a lawn around the base of the grass plants. This may also affect the Centipede grass just like other types of grasses.

Thatch makes the roots of grass more shallow which results in making the grass more prone to the effects of drought and temperature. The thatch generally grows during the winter as the grass is dormant during this season. Thatch could be easily removed with a rake or a dethatcher.

If your lawn is too spongy then it might be due to the presence of thatch. And if this thatch is not removed, it will prevent the penetration of essential nutrients and water into the grassroots; which in turn creates a favorable environment for microbes like bacteria and fungus.

4. Brown Patch

Brown patch is a fungal disease that results in turning the lawn into yellow-colored patches. These patches can be of varied sizes right from a few inches to a few feet. They can affect a larger portion of the lawn. It can become more and more severe, if not treated properly.

The problem with these patches is that even after treatment; these patches could spread to other parts of the lawn.

The only option to deal with this disease and make your lawn safe from it is to take preventive measures. You can use a fungicide that will help in preventing this disease.

5. Dollar Spot

Dollar spots are often confused with brown patches. But unlike brown patches, dollar spots are smaller in size approximately 2 to 4 inches in diameter. They are small discolored patches that can be easily treated.

Generally, dollar spot occurs on lawns that are deprived of nitrogen or that have a lot of thatch.

To treat dollar spots, you have to put extra nitrogen on the lawn or on the affected area. Also, mow your lawn to the accurate height and water it properly during the hot summer months.

6. Fairy Rings

Fairy rings are another problem that could occur with centipede grass. It is a disease that results in the occurrence of circles of dark yellow color on the lawn.

Initially, the ring starts with around a diameter of 3 feet which can spread up to 20 feet in diameter. Unfortunately, there is not any particular treatment available for this disease except removing the dead grass and replacing it with fresh turf.

With this, we have discussed everything about one of the most famous grass for lawn gardening in South America, Centipede grass. Hope you have liked reading this article.

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