Centipede grass has relatively few maintenance requirements, but it still requires some work. Read on to learn more about how to care for this versatile warm-season grass.
You can plant centipede grass from either traditional seed, sod, or plugs. The method that you should choose depends on how much you can afford and whether you have the time to seed a lawn by yourself. In each case, you can opt for professional installation.
Planting Centipede Grass Seed
Centipede grass seed is relatively cheap overall, but it does take some work to plant and grow. Since centipede grass is a warm-season grass, you should plant the seed in the late spring, about 3-4 weeks before its growing season. Centipede grass does not grow incredibly fast, so if you are reseeding a lawn, you should try to remove altogether the grass that was there previously, or else it may overtake the centipede grass.
After tilling the previous area, spread the centipede grass seed over your yard. One pound of centipede grass seed should be sufficient for up to 3,000 sq. ft. of coverage. After spreading the seed, keep the area thoroughly watered for the next 3 weeks until the grass reaches about 2 inches tall.
Planting Centipede Grass Sod
If you do not have the time or effort to devote to seeding your lawn, you can also install centipede grass sod. Installing centipede grass sod takes less effort than seeding your lawn, but it is more expensive.
Before laying the sod pallets, till your existing grass and add a layer of nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Afterward, lay the sod pallets at the edge and unroll them. Make sure that you lay the pellets so the seams are as small as possible and that the edges do not overlap. Once the sod has been laid, use a roller to press the sod until it makes contact with the underlying dirt. This part is crucial because it removes any air bubbles that can prevent the grass from growing.
Keep your centipede grass sod thoroughly watered for the next 3-4 weeks until it has reached 2-3 inches tall. Then you can mow it for the first time. Remove the grass clippings from the first mow so the thatch layer does not get too thick.
Planting Centipede Grass Plugs
If you do not want to install seed or sod, then you can install centipede grass plugs. Start off by tilling the area of the yard that you want to plant the grass plugs and add an extra layer of fertilizer. Remove any previous grass from the areas. Next, install the centipede grass plugs using a sod plug drill bit. Space the plugs about 1 foot apart from each point.
As is the case with the other installation methods, water the grass plugs thoroughly for 3-4 weeks until they are around 2 inches tall.
If you install centipede grass in your yard, do not be concerned if it does not immediately sprout and start to grow. Centipede grass grows slowly and can take anywhere between 2-4 weeks to germinate properly. During this time, you need to keep it adequately watered so it will grow well.
Soil quality is very important for centipede grass growth. You should try to maintain an optimal 5.5 pH, along with proper fertilization and watering. You can test your soil’s acidity levels with a soil testing kit you can buy from a local hardware store.
Centipede grass is popular because it needs relatively little maintenance and care compared to other types of grass. You do not need to regularly water centipede grass. Only water it when it shows signs of wilting and withering or during drought conditions. Too much water can drown centipede grass and prevent it from growing properly.
You only need to fertilize centipede grass twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. Too much fertilizer can damage your centipede grass and prevent it from growing healthily.
Centipede grass should be kept at about 1-1.5 inches long with relatively infrequent mowing. Any longer and there is the risk that the thatch layer could get too thick. Keep your mower blades sharp, or else you run the risk of pulling the grass out of the ground. Also, you should minimize foot traffic on your centipede grass directly after seeding and mowing.
Proper maintenance will help thicken your centipede grass, but there are some other ways to make sure your lawn looks great. One of the best ways to make your centipede grass thicker is to create walkways or stepping stones on your lawn to minimize damage from foot traffic. Centipede grass will also look thicker and healthier if you don't have trees on your lawn as they will sap nutrients and water away from the grass.