Landscaping in America

Warm season grasses for homeowners living in southern America

Centipede grass is idea for southern states.

Southern Lawns by Chris Hastings

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Centipede Grass

Centipedegrass is native to China and southeast Asia. It was first introduced into the United States circa 1916 from seed collected by Frank N. Meyer in South China. Centipede grass has since become widely grown in the southeastern United States from South Carolina to Florida and westward along the Gulf Coast states and Texas.

Centipede grass' popularity as a lawn grass stems from its adaptation to reduced fertility conditions and its low maintenance requirements. Where Centipedegrass is adapted and properly managed, it has few serious pest problems. Centipede grass is particularly well adapted to the sandy, acid soils of southeastern United States. Its westward movement is somewhat limited by severe iron deficiencies that develop in the alkaline soils of the arid regions. Centipede's northward movement is restricted by low temperatures. Centipede grass is slightly more cold tolerant than St. Augustine grass, but extended periods of 5°F or less will likely kill Centipede grass.

Centipede grass is moderately shade tolerant, but grows best in full sunlight. It is not as salt tolerant as St. Augustine grass or Bermuda grass. Centipede thrives on moderately acid soils, pH 5 6. Above pH 7.0 iron becomes a limiting factor and supplemental applications of iron may be required.

Centipede grass does not enter a true dormant state during winter months and is severely injured by intermittent cold and warm periods during fluctuating spring temperatures. Hard freezes kill the leaves and young stolons of Centipede grasses. Centipede grass usually recovers as soon as temperatures become favorable. Recurring cycles of cold and warm during the winter months depletes its energy reserves and make's it susceptible to extreme winterkill. Thus, its adaptation is limited to areas with mild winter temperatures.

Centipede grass can be found throughout the West Indies, South America and along some areas of the west coast of Africa. It can be successfully grown in any of the areas where St. Augustine grass is adapted.

Winterization: Centipede grass does not need a late fall application of fertilizer, often referred to as a "winterization feeding."

Centipede lawns may be over seeded in the fall with a cool-season grass to create a temporary green lawn over the winter. Annual rye is a good choice.

Texture: medium

Cold tolerance: fair (damage possible below 15)

Shade tolerance: fair/good

Rate of establishment: slow

Mowing height: medium

First mowing, do not mow Centipede grass close before the growing season begins.

Aeration: may be aerated any time during the growing season, except during drought conditions. Avoid aeration during the green-up phase in early spring.