The Q&A Archives: centipede

Question: How short should centipede grass be cut in Myrtle Beach, SC and how much water a week should it receive? Also what do I do to the large brown areas in the lawn?

Answer: Centipede grass is sometimes referred to as the "lazy person's grass" because it requires less maintenance than most other types of turf grasses.

BENEFITS: Centipede "hugs" the ground and requires very little mowing. It develops into a dense, weed-resistant turf. It performs best in acidic soils with low fertility, so you rarely need to apply lime or fertilizer to a Centipede lawn. Centipede goes dormant in the winter, resulting in even less maintenance.

DETERRENTS: Centipede does not favor extremely cold temperatures. It is relatively slow growing and does not withstand foot traffic as well as other turf varieties. Centipede has a rough, rather coarse blade. It often requires fertilizers and chemicals specific to Centipede grass. Products that can be used on other turf grasses may damage a Centipede lawn.

LIGHT REQUIREMENTS: Full sun or dappled shade.

WATER REQUIREMENTS: An established Centipede lawn can tolerate periodic droughts, but performs best when it receives one to two inches of water per week.

MOWING HEIGHT: Maintain Centipede at about 1 inch high. In the dead of summer, you may allow the grass to grow to 2 inches in height. Do not mow Centipede at all in drought situations.

FERTILIZER: Feed your Centipede only once during the growing season, just after it greens up in the spring. The fertilizer should have moderate amounts of nitrogen and potassium, but no phosphorous, such as a 15-0-15 or and 18-0-18. Overfertilizing can weaken Centipede. In October, apply a winterizer to prevent winter injury.

WEED CONTROL: Apply a crabgrass preventer in October to control poa annua and in February to prevent crabgrass. Growing weeds can be controlled with a lawn weed control formulated especially for Centipede grass.

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