Weak grass roots - Knowledgebase Question

North Augusta, So
Question by joe_ann_and_
March 7, 2010
Our lawn has centipede grass. We have fertilized, aerated, and used weed control, lime, and insect control. However, the centipede grass does not want to put down roots. The grass is very weak and breaks off easily if touched. We also have infestations of annual blue grass and moss which we hand pick out since it kills the centipede it grows over. How can we get the roots to go deep?

Answer from NGA
March 7, 2010


It sounds as though you've done everything humanly possible to get your centipede to establish. All soils are made up of varying amounts of sand, silt, clay, air, and water. Most plant roots prefer a loose soil that has half of its pore space reserved for oxygen and moisture. It's often said that roots don't grow in dirt; they grow in air spaces. Since you've already aerated, your soil should certainly have plenty of spaces for root growth. Centipede grows well in full sun to light shade, so light exposure is probably not the problem. I wonder, though, if you are overwatering? Keeping the soil too moist can suffocate the roots and essentially kill them which will result in poor root growth. Or it could be that you have a population of grubs feeding on the roots. You can cut a square foot of turf out, pull it up and look on the soil surface and on the roots for fat, white grubs; less than six grubs per square foot can usually be masked by water and fertilizers. Populations between 10 and 15 per square foot can cause significant turf damage in September and October. Of course, populations occasionally reach 40 to 60 grubs per square foot and these levels can cause significant damage. If you find grubs you can treat your lawn with a product like Grubex or Bayer Advanced Season-Long Grub Control granules, applied according to label directions. I can't think of other reasons for your turf not to root so I hope the above information helps you determine just what the problem might be. Good luck with your lawn!

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