Centipede Grass

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Centipede Grass

Centipede grass is a type of warm-season lawn grass that grows slow and remains low to the ground, with short, erect stems that grow to approximately 3-5 inches and spread out by stolons, or runners. The grass has a moderately coarse texture, and falls between Bermuda grass and St Augustine grass as far as stem size, shoot density, and leaf width. Though it’s a slow growing grass, it’s also an aggressive grass, and can produce a thick, lush, and weed-free lawn. Because the grass only sends out surface runners, it can be controlled with ease around sidewalks, flower beds or other areas.

Centipede is a fairly shade tolerant grass, though it does grow best in sunlight and warmer climates. It isn’t quite as shade tolerant as Zoysiagrass or St. Augustine grass, though it’s somewhat more shade tolerant than Bermuda grass. The grass grows very well in the sandier, more acidic soils found in the southeastern area of the United States, and thrives more on the warmer temperatures and milder winters found in those areas, as well. It can handle a few mild freezes, but longer periods of temperatures below 5 degrees Fahrenheit can kill the grass. Centipede lawns don’t go truly dormant in the winter months, and can be damaged by the varying periods of warm and cold temperatures of spring. However, the grass is able to rejuvenate itself once temperatures are warmer and steadier.

Centipede grass was first brought into the United States in 1916 from seed gathered in South China. Since then, it has best adapted to the southeastern region of the United States, from South Carolina to Texas. Northern climates, with harsher, colder winters, are not as hospitable to the grass; nor are the more alkaline and less iron-rich soils of the west as adaptable for the grass, either.

However, with proper management, centipede grass is a great grass for homeowners in warmer climates who would like an attractive, low-maintenance type of lawn. The grass requires little fertilizer and not much mowing. When mowed, it shouldn’t be mowed too low or too close, as this might lead to bare patches or damage the roots. Mowing at heights between 1 and 2 inches will also help prevent decline of grass health.

Though the grass is also slow-growing, its aggressive growth and density make it more insect and disease resistant than many other types of lawn grasses. A once a year weed and feed program is generally sufficient to take care of the few weeds that may have emerged and will provide fertilization for the year. If preferred, a seasonal application of weed control and/or fertilizer is also fine.


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