How to Successfully Plant & Grow a Lush Centipede Grass Lawn: A Comprehensive Guide

Kenneth Wilson

If you’re currently looking for ways to improve your curb appeal, it’s time to consider planting centipede grass! Many homeowners opt to plant centipede grass seed on their lawn as it is a foolproof way to spruce up a front lawn or backyard. Not to mention, the grass is known to be drought-tolerant and thrives even in mild winter temperature environments.

It’s the best choice for low-maintenance homeowners; the centipede is a slow-growing grass that requires less mowing and feeding than most. In planting centipede grass, you will need to first choose from seed, sod, or plugs. Your method of preference will differ in terms of average costs, labor, and estimated time. (Related: The 6 Best Grass Seeds to Consider for Sandy Soil)

How to Plant Centipede Grass: A Step-by-Step Process

Here’s a general breakdown of how to plant centipede grass:

  • First step is to till the area in your lawn where you want to grow the centipede grass seed.
  • Level the area using a rake or a roller after tilling. This will loosen the top layer of the soil and remove dead grass and other debris.
  • If you have other grass growing in the same area of the lawn, it’s better to remove the grass before you till it (or treat the section with herbicide). Wait for two to four weeks and cover it with a light tarpaulin. You will need to remove the old grass from making a comeback on your lawn– allowing the centipede grass seed to thrive.
  • Spread the centipede grass seed once the area is prepared. On average, 1 pound (or 0.5 kg.) of centipede grass seed is enough to cover 3,000 square feet (915 m.). Pro Tip: Mix the seed with sand to spread it easier at 1 pound (0.5 kg.) of seed per 3 gallons (11 L.) of sand.
  • After planting, water the area thoroughly for the next three weeks. You can also fertilize the yard with a commercial high nitrogen fertilizer.

Additional considerations:

  • Proper watering is crucial to the success of your seeding project. Keep the soil surface moist through daily light watering, at least until the seedlings reach 2 inches in height.
  • Don’t panic if the centipede grass fails to sprout immediately. In most cases, centipede grass takes some time to start growing, taking between 10 to 28 days to germinate.

Planting Centipede Grass Using Sod

If you’re researching how to plant centipede grass sod, you’re looking at a quick, less labor-intensive way to grow a centipede grass lawn. The only considerable downside is the expensive costs.

  • Till the soil
  • Add organic material and nitrogen-rich fertilizer
  • Lay the centipede grass sod strips on the surface
  • Ensure that the sod strips edges are close to each other, with ends being staggered.
  • Since the grass sod comes with staples, this helps attach the sod firmly to the soil
  • Roll the sod down and start to water the area thoroughly. Water the centipede grass sod for the next three to four weeks.

Planting Centipede Grass Using Plugs

If you choose to go with the plug route in planting your centipede grass lawn, expect to cover considerable labor, cost, and average established time.

  • Start tilling the area where you intend to plant the centipede grass plugs
  • You can also include an organic material and nitrogen-rich fertilizer while tilling
  • If you have established grass in the area, use a sod cutter to remove the old grass
  • Use a sod plug drill bit to insert the centipede grass plugs (1 foot or 31 cm. in depth)
  • Once the plugs are all in place, ensure to water the area adequately for the next three to four weeks.

Maintaining a Centipede Grass Lawn

Now that we’ve covered the process behind how to plant centipede grass seed, let’s discuss the routine maintenance activities you need to follow to achieve a lush, thick centipede grass lawn. (Related: 6 Best Types Of Florida Grass And Expert Maintenance Tips)

Proper Mowing

According to experts, centipede grass must be maintained between 1 and ½ to 2 inches in length. If you let it grow beyond this ideal height, excess thatch may develop shortly. Another important thing is to ensure the mower blade is sharp enough to get a neat, clean-cut.

Heavy Foot Traffic is Discouraged

Unfortunately, centipede grass isn’t known for its durability compared to other popular lawn grass varieties. Your centipede grass lawn cannot withstand heavy wear and tear. Once damaged, it will recover at a rather slow pace.

Proper Watering

Since the centipede grass variety grows its roots in the upper level of the soil, it may turn brown during periods of drought and extreme heat exposure.

As such, it must be watered only when you see visible wilting leaves (or when the turfgrass turns into a grayish-green color). Water the lawn at least about an inch, enough to soak your soil 6-8 inches deep.

Adequate Feeding

For your reference, centipede grass needs only small levels of nitrogen. If you feed it with too much fertilizer, this may end up harming your lawn. Ideally, keep the lawn fed at least once in mid-spring and in the mid-summer. Use a lawn food product that gradually releases its nutrients in a span of 6 to 8 weeks.

Weed Control Measures

If your centipede grass lawn frequently deals with unwanted crabgrass infestation– opt to apply commercial weed preventer products in the early spring. Most products can prevent the occurrence of crabgrass (and other common lawn weeds) for up to 4 months. If you want to use a weed-and-feed product, ensure that the lawn is out of its winter dormancy stage, meaning that it is actively growing once again. Best wait until the third mowing before proceeding with the application.

Bare Spot Repair

Prolonged drought periods or too much wear and tear may leave behind bare spots on your centipede grass lawn. This serves as an open area where weeds may thrive and take over your turfgrass. The moment you notice visible bare areas, fix them with the help of patch and repair products for centipede grass.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does it take for centipede grass to grow?

If you grow centipede grass in your yard, don't worry if it doesn't germinate and begin to grow right away. Centipede grass grows slowly and might take two to four weeks to successfully germinate. You must provide it with enough water throughout this time for it to grow healthily.

Is soil quality important for centipede grass growth?

Centipede grass growth is highly dependent on the condition of the soil. Along with proper fertilization and watering, you should try to keep your pH at an ideal 5.5. A soil testing kit that you can get from a local hardware shop will allow you to easily check the acidity levels of your soil at a given time.

How can I revive dead centipede grass?

You may revive centipede grass as long as at least 50% of your centipede lawn is healthy and has minimal thatch. To begin with, you must test the soil to ensure that its pH is between 5.0 and 6.0. Next, determine if your grass is browning as a result of disease, an insect infestation, or the cold weather. The areas that did not turn green in the spring will remain the same size throughout the summer if it has been affected by the cold. A pest or disease is present when there are brown patches that grow during the summer. Rake up and get rid of all the dead grass to restore a lawn that was damaged by the cold. Dress the topsoil, till it, and plant new seeds. The above-mentioned sod or plug method is another solution. The ideal time to perform this is in the early or late summer.

How do I maintain centipede grass?

Once established, your centipede grass lawn requires relatively little maintenance:

  • Occasional fertilization and watering are needed for centipede grass maintenance.
  • Nourish your centipede grass once in the spring and once in the fall each year. Apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer moderately twice a year: once in the spring and once in the fall. Any further fertilization might pose problems with your centipede grass lawn.
  • During dry seasons, only water your centipede grass when it begins to show signs of water stress. The grass may have lost its color or seem wilted as a result of water stress. If there is a drought, water thoroughly just once per week rather than shallowly several times.
Kenneth Wilson
July 12, 2022
2terra, Contractor Tips, Yard & Garden

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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