Centipede Grass

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  • Fertilizer and Weed Prevention
  • Background
  • Centipede Traits
  • Watering
  • Soils
  • Aeration
  • Mowing
  • Common Management Mistakes
  • Pre-Emergent Herbicides
  • Specialty Products

Centipede Fertilizer and Weed Prevention Program

January

Soil Test and Sol-u-cal (if necessary) - Soil testing available through W. P. Law, Inc.
Used to add Calcium to the soil and raises the pH to ensure necessary nutrients are available to your grass.

Feb. 15th - Mar. 15th

0-0-7 Barricade 0.38%   or   0-0-7 Dimension 0.13%
   (3# per 1000 sq. ft.)                          (3.3# per 1000 sq. ft.)
Prevents summer annual weeds such as crabgrass.

April

Bifenthrin Granular Insecticide
Broad spectrum insect control that lasts up to 3 months. Works great on fire ants.
(2.3# - 4.6# per 1000 sq. ft.)

Pillar G Fungicide (if necessary)
Systemic broad spectrum fungicide with two active ingredients for turf with a history of Large Patch.
(3# per 1000 sq. ft.)

May

16-0-8 Barricade 0.38% or 19-0-6 Confront3+Dimension 0.145%
   (3# per 1000 sq. ft.)                               (4# per 1000 sq. ft.)
Provides nitrogen and pre-emergent for green-up and extended weed control -OR- use 19-0-6 Confront3 + Dimension to control existing broadleaf weeds with the addition of Dimension for extended preventative weed control.

June
20-0-25 85% MESA and EXPO Fertilizer
Maintains steady even growth with balanced slow release nutrients.

(5# per 1000 sq. ft.)

July

Bifenthrin Granular Insecticide
Broad spectrum insect control that lasts up to 3 months. Works great on fire ants.

August
6-1-11 with 7% Iron
Produces green color without flushing top growth in late season.

(5# per 1000 sq. ft.)

Sept. 15th - Oct. 15th

0-0-7 Barricade 0.38%   or   0-0-7 Dimension 0.13%
   (3# per 1000 sq. ft.)                          (6.6# per 1000 sq. ft.)
Prevents winter annual weeds such as annual bluegrass (Poa annua).

Pillar G Fungicide (if necessary)
Systemic broad spectrum fungicide with two active ingredients for turf with a history of Large Patch.
(3# per 1000 sq. ft.)

October

Pillar G Fungicide (if necessary)
Systemic broad spectrum fungicide with two active ingredients for turf with a history of Large Patch.
(3# per 1000 sq. ft.)

 

Background

Centipede was first introduced into the U. S. in the early 1900s.  Originally from southern China, centipede has adapted well to the state of South Carolina.  Centipede is one of the few turf grasses, which perform well on acidic and infertile soils.  Centipede grass has long been called the “Lazy Man’s Grass”. This is due to its slower growing habit and lower fertility requirement.

Many homeowners have complained of delayed spring green-up or even dead spots within their lawns.  For the past four years, Clemson University has researched the effect of fertilization on centipede lawns. Although the research is ongoing, they have linked this phenomenon to over fertilization.  Centipede grass grows best when no more than 1 to 2 pounds of nitrogen per growing season is applied to the lawn.

The 20-0-25 EXPO will provide 1 pound of nitrogen in a form which will continue to feed the lawn for up to 10 weeks as well as slow release potassium to help the lawn become more drought tolerant.

Update

Over the past few years, many lawn professionals have observed large patch disease in centipede lawns in both the late fall and early spring.  This disease is similar to brown patch in fescue which is prevalent throughout the Carolinas.  In order to protect the investment of your lawn, an application of fungicide in the fall as well as the spring is reccomended.  Both Eagle and Disarm C  control this fungus.  It is suggested that you rotate between these two fungicides to avoid any chemical resistance.

Centipede Traits

  • Fertility - Low
  • Drought Tolerance - Medium
  • Disease Problems - Patch Diseases
  • Insect Problems - Spittlebugs
  • Recuperation Rate - Poor
  • Density - Medium
  • Texture - Medium
  • Wear Tolerance – Poor

Watering

The watering requirement for your centipede lawn will vary greatly due to constantly changing weather conditions. During the growing season, it may need anywhere from 0-1.5” of water per week. The professionals at W. P. Law, Inc. suggest using an irrigation controller with a weather station or soil moisture sensors to compensate for these changing conditions.

Studies have shown these types of controllers can save 20-50% on your water bill over traditional time based controllers. Existing controllers can also be fitted with this water saving technology.

In addition to saving water and money, there is no need for continual adjustment. The result is a better looking lawn with less effort. Because these “smart controllers” only apply water when needed, they will usually pay for themselves in water savings within the first year.

Soils

A practical understanding of your soil is essential in managing your lawn. Soil pH is perhaps the most crucial element . Most turf grasses perform best when the soil pH falls between 6.3 and 7.0. Centipede differs in that it performs best when soil pH falls between 5 .7 and 6.5. If your soil pH does not fall within this range, essential nutrients will not be available to the grass. To obtain assistance with soil testing, contact your local Clemson University Extension office.

Aeration

Aeration has two purposes. The first is to simply loosen the soil. The second is to prune the roots. Core aeration is the recommended method and should be performed every 2 years on a typical home lawn during the growing season.  If your lawn receives heavy foot traffic, it is advisable to aerate every year.  Aeration should be performed during the growing season of the turf.

Mowing

Centipede should be mowed at a height of 1 1/2 to 3 inches. Always remember that the more stress a plant is under, the higher the lawn should be mowed. Frequency of mowing will also vary depending on the growth of the grass. Most centipede lawns should be mowed every 7 to 10 days. During drought conditions, it would be best to mow the lawn once every two weeks. As with any other lawn, a consistent mowing interval will improve the quality of the turf. A good rule of thumb is to NEVER remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade during mowing.

Common Management Mistakes

  • Over-fertilization
  • Over-watering
  • Early season nitrogen applications

Centipede is a low management grass that does not need many inputs. Common mistakes include over-fertilization and over-watering. Besides over fertilizing, many people make the mistake of applying fertilizers too early in the growing season.

Centipede will not start growing aggressively until the night time temperatures are consistently around 70 degrees. Applying nitrogen based fertilizers too early can make it more susceptible to late cold snaps. Fertilizers that contain a 1-0-1 ratio of nitrogen to potash work best on centipede, especially those grown on sandy soils.

Centipede prefers well drained soils and will not tolerate “wet feet”. Over watering can lead to patch diseases which have become a major problem for this grass. Special attention should be paid to areas that receive runoff water from slopes, driveways, rooftops, etc. These areas can be more prone to having disease problems.

 

Pre-Emergent Herbicides

Pre-emergent herbicides are used to prevent annual weeds from germinating in your lawn by forming a protective chemical barrier on the soil surface. There are both cool season and warm season annual weeds that germinate at various times throughout the year. By applying a pre-emergent herbicide, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. NEVER apply these products on a lawn that is not well established!

Specialty Products

  • Sol-u-Cal  - Used to adjust soil pH. When applied at a rate of 12 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft., Sol-u-Cal will raise the pH as much as one point in as little as 4-6 weeks.
  • Disarm fungicide - Provides both curative and preventative control of more than 30 turf diseases.
  • Confront 3 Mini Granules - Excellent broadleaf weed control that can be used anytime of the year.
  • Bifenthrin - Broad spectrum insect control that lasts up to three months.  Works great on fire ants.
  • Eagle fungicide - Systemic broad spectrum disease control.
  • Aloft insecticide - Excellent grub control along with surface feeding insect control.
  • Note:  19-0-5 50% LSN Fertilizer + Nutrilife may be substituted with 20-0-25 EXPO with 1% Iron on sandier soils.