Centipede Maintenance Calendar

Home Lawn Calendar

This calendar of suggested management practices is designed to assist you in the seasonal care of your lawn. Location, terrain, soil type and condition, age of the lawn, previous lawn care, and other factors affect turf performance. For these reasons, tile following management practices and dates should be adjusted to suit your particular home lawn conditions.

March through May

Mowing

Mow lawn at 1 inch at time of initial greenup. Mow before grass gets above 1 1/2 inches tall. Do not burn off centipedegrass to remove excessive debris because of possible injury to the lawn and potential fire hazard.

Fertilization

DO NOT apply nitrogen at this time. Yellow appearance may be an indication of iron deficiency. Spray iron (ferrous) sulfate (2 ounces in water per 1,000 sq. ft.) or a chelated iron source to enhance color as needed. Follow label directions.

Watering

Water to prevent drought stress. About 1 inch of water per application each week is needed for growing centipedegrass. Sandy soils often require more frequent watering; i.e., 1/2 inch of water every third day. Proper irrigation may prevent or reduce pest and nonpest problems from occurring later in the summer.

Weed Control

Apply preemergence herbicides to control crabgrass, goosegrass, and foxtail. Apply by the time that dogwoods are in full bloom. Apply postemergence herbicides in May as needed for control of summer annual and perennial broadleaf weeds such as knotweed, spurge, lespedeza, etc. Do not apply until 3 weeks after greenup. Centipedegrass is sensitive to certain herbicides (e.g. 2,4-D), so follow label directions and use with caution.

Insect Control

Check for white grubs and control if necessary.

Thatch

Power rake (vertical mow) to remove thatch (layer of undecayed grass) in late May if necessary. A 2- or 3-inch blade spacing set 1/4-inch deep in one direction works best. Do not use a power rake with a 1-inch blade spacing as severe turf injury may result.

Renovation

Replant large bare areas in May using seed (1/4 to 1/2 pound per 1,000 sq. ft.) or sprigs (3/4 bushel per 1,000 sq. ft.). Mixing seed with 2 gallons of fine sand per 1,000 sq. ft. will aid in distribution. Germination is expected in 28 days but establishment is slow. Keep seedbed continually moist with light, frequent sprinklings several times a day to ensure good germination. Three years for complete establishment of a new lawn is not uncommon.

 

June through August

Mowing

Mow lawn at 1 inch. Mow before grass gets above 1 1/2 inches tall.

Fertilization

Fertilize with 1/2 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. (once a year) in mid-June using a high potassium fertilizer (e.g., 5-5-15, 6-6-12, 8-8-24). An additional fertilization in August may enhance performance in coastal locations. Fertilizers without phosphorus (e.g., 15-0-14, 8-0-24) are preferred if soils exhibit moderate-to-high levels of phosphorus. Yellow appearance may indicate an iron deficiency. Spray iron (ferrous) sulfate (2 ounces in water per 1,000 sq. ft.) or a chelated iron source to enhance color as needed. Follow label directions.

To determine amount of product required to apply 1/2 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft., divide 50 by the FIRST number on the fertilizer bag. Example: A 5-5-15 fertilizer. Dividing 50 by 5 = 10 pounds of product to be applied per 1,000 sq. ft. for 1/2 pound of nitrogen.

Watering

Water to prevent drought stress. About 1 inch of water per application each week is needed for growing centipedegrass. Sandy soils often require more frequent watering; i.e., l/2 inch of water every third day.

   

Weed Control

Apply postemergence herbicides as needed for control of summer annual and perennial broadleaf weeds, such as knotweed, spurge, lespedeza, etc. Centipedegrass is sensitive to certain herbicides (e.g., 2,4-D, MSMA), so follow label directions and use with caution. Do not apply herbicides unless grass and weeds are actively growing and lawn is not suffering from drought stress.

Insect Control

Check for white grubs and control if necessary.

Disease Control

Have soil assayed if nematode damage is suspected. Contact your county Extension Center for assistance.

 

September through November

Mowing

Mow lawn at 1 inch. Mow before grass gets above 1 1/2 inches tall. Raise mowing height to 1 1/2 inches several weeks before expected frost.

Fertilization

Fertilize with 1 pound of potash (K2O) per 1,000 sq. ft. 4 to 6 weeks before expected frost using 1.6 pounds of muriate of potash (0-0-60) or 2 pounds of potassium sulfate (0-0-50). DO NOT lime centipedegrass unless recommended by soil test.

To determine amount of product required to apply 1 pound of potash per 1,000 sq. ft., divide 100 by the THIRD number on the fertilizer bag. Example: A 6-6-12 fertilizer. Dividing 100 by 12 = 8.3 pounds of product to be applied per 1,000 sq. ft. for 1 pound of potassium.

Watering

Water to prevent drought stress. About 1 inch of water per application each week is sufficient for growing centipedegrass. Sandy soils often require more frequent watering; i.e., 1/2 inch of water every third day. Water following onset of dormancy (browning of foliage) if needed to prevent excessive dehydration.

Insect Control

Check for white grubs and control if necessary.

 

December through February

Mowing

Remove lawn debris (rocks, sticks, and leaves). Do not burn off centipedegrass to remove excessive debris because of possible injury to the grass and potential fire hazard.

Fertilization

DO NOT fertilize centipedegrass at this time. Submit soil samples for analysis every 3 years to determine nutrient requirements. Be sure to specify centipedegrass. (Contact your county Extension Center for details.) Apply lime or sulfur if suggested (based on soil test) to raise or reduce soil pH respectively. DO NOT lime centipedegrass unless recommended by soil test.

Watering

Water to prevent excessive dehydration.

Weed Control

Apply broadleaf herbicides as necessary for control of chickweed, henbit, etc. Centipedegrass is sensitive to certain herbicides (e.g., 2,4-D), so follow label directions for reducing rates, and use with caution. Selected herbicides (e.g., atrazine or simazine) can be applied in November or December for control of annual bluegrass (Poa annua) and several winter annual broadleaf weeds.

 

More About Centipedegrass

Centipedegrass is a slow-growing, apple-green, coarse-leafed turfgrass that is adapted for use as a low maintenance, general purpose turf. It requires little fertilizer (l/2 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. per year), infrequent mowing, and grows well in full sun to moderate shade. It does not tolerate traffic, compaction, high-phosphorus soils, high pH, low-potassium soils, excessive thatch, drought, or heavy shade.

Centipedegrass is susceptible to a number of pest-related problems. Symptoms include small circular dead areas after several years of good performance. Areas do not green up in the spring or begin to die in late spring or during drought stress. Grass at the edge of affected areas may yellow, wilt, and die. Possible causes include nematodes, ground pearls (an insect), and fairy ring (a disease). Nematode damage appears as weak areas invaded by weeds. If nematodes are suspected, submit a soil sample for analysis. (See Plant Pathology Information Note 241, Problems on Centipedegrass, for details.) Ground pearls appear as circular dead areas with only weeds growing in the center. (See Department of Entomology Insect Note No. 64, Ground Pearls.) Fairy rings appear as circular green or dead areas that continue to enlarge for several years.  Injury from certain broadleaf weed control herbicides and mismanagement can also display these symptoms. Following proper lawn management practices, as discussed in this publication, is the best means of preventing and controlling centipedegrass problems. Continual loss of centipedegrass may indicate the need to choose another grass species. Contact your county Extension Center for assistance if needed.

Maintenance programs provided by professional lawn care service companies may differ from recommendations given here yet be equally effective.

 

DISCLAIMER: Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your county Cooperative Extension Service agent.