Centipede Grass Sod
( Eremochloa ophiuroides )
Centipede grass is the most commonly used lawn grass sod in the Florida Panhandle and is well suited to North Florida’s climate and soil conditions. It is a beautiful crab apple green color with a medium textured blades with low maintenance requirements when compared to other grasses.
Origination of Centipede Sod:
Centipede grass was introduced from Southeastern Asia.
Centipede grass lawn Pros:
Well adapted to North Florida’s climate and soils
Low maintenance requirements
Fair to good shade tolerance
Slow growth rate
Low fertilizer needs in PH soils of 5.0 – 6.0
Crowds out weeds
Cons for a Centipede Lawn:
Low wear or traffic tolerance
Lighter green coloring can cause problems with over fertilization in attempts to make it a deeper green color, over fertilizing also causes thatch problems in this turf
Not salt tolerant
Highly susceptible to ring nematode damage as well as ground pearl (scale) insects
Stolons from Centipede grass do not quickly decompose when clippings are left in turf causing thatch build up
Lower drought tolerance than most other North Florida sod selections (the only North Florida lawn grass with a higher water requirement than Centipede grass is St. Augustine grass)
Soil Preferences of Centipede Grass:
Centipede sod does best when grown in slightly acid soils with a PH of 5 – 5.5 Severe iron chlorosis can occur in soils that have over a 6.5 PH level. Correct iron yellowing of the grass blades with chelated iron or iron sulfate.
Shade Tolerance of Centipede grass in lawns:
Centipede Sod is fairly shade tolerant.
Salt Tolerance of Centipede Varieties:
Not a salt tolerant turf grass option
Water Requirements of Centipede Grass Lawns:
Established centipede grass sod should be watered on an as needed basis when more than 30 percent of the lawn begins to show water stress. Grass blades begin to turn a bluish gray green color and footprints remain in the sod after walking across the lawn. When grass reaches this level water ¾ of an inch of water which is equivalent to 465 gallons of water per 1000 s.f.
This turf can be damaged by drought to a point where it will not recover. Make sure to keep an eye on the lawn and set the timer on automatic or have a neighbor water when going out of town on vacations.
Mowing Requirements of Centipede Lawns:
Centipede is a slow growing sod making mowing less frequently needed. Depending on the growing season waterfall rates centipede sod should be mowed every 7-14 days. Mow at a height of 1 ½ – 2 ½ inches taking care not to remove more than 1/3 of the total grass height in any one mowing.
Traffic Tolerance for Centipede Grass:
Centipede grass sod has a lower traffic tolerance and is not suitable for lawns where children will be playing frequently, such as under a play set or playground often or in areas where large family pets run frequently. Centipede sod recovers slowly from heavy traffic damage, but light traffic of smaller indoor family pets and occasional recreational use will be tolerated well. Centipede sod recovers slowly from heavy traffic damage
Fertilizer Needs of Centipede Grass :
Centipede sod does not require heavy fertilizer application to thrive. It could very easily be said that more damage to centipede sod is done by adding fertilizer that is not needed than damage done to centipede sod by lack of proper fertilization.
Fertilizer needs vary with differing soil conditions. In general centipede sod will need from 1 to 3 applications of fertilizer per year at the rate of 1- lb of nitrogen per 1000 s.f. in the North Florida area.
In addition centipede sod responds well to applications of supplemental iron, especially in higher PH alkaline soils where chlorosis will be a problem. Apply Iron sulfate or chelated iron in liquid applications to help cure iron deficiencies in centipede grass lawns.
Pest Problems and Management Practices for Centipede Grass:
Centipede grass sod can be susceptible to Nematodes, Ground Pearls, mole crickets, grubs, lawn caterpillars and sod webworms. Once a problem has been identified contact your local agricultural extension office for treatment options.
Disease Problems and Management Practices for Centipede turf:
Centipede grass sod may occasionally suffer from brown patch and may be affected by dollar spot under some conditions. Once a problem has been identified check with your local Agricultural Extension Service for treatment options if needed.
Centipede Grass decline can affect lawns with improper management practices.
Chlorosis will be a problem when planted on Alkaline soils. Centipede grass sod responds well to treatment with Chelated iron or iron sulfate foliar sprays.
Establishment Methods of a Centipede Lawn:
Centipede lawns can be established by seed from April to July, plugs, sprigs or sod
Acceptable Uses For Centipede sod:
Centipede grass sod is a good choice for a full sun or partially shaded lawn that receives no salt exposure where a light crabapple green grass, medium textured turf that is lower in maintenance is desired. Having an irrigation system in place is recommended when Centipede grass lawns are used.