How to Plant & Care for Centipede Grass Plugs

Low-maintenance centipede grass in front of a house

Centipede grass isn’t called the lazy man’s grass for nothing. Like Bermuda, Zoysia, and St. Augustine grass, it is a warm-season grass variety known for its low-maintenance requirements and ability to grow in less-than-ideal soil conditions.

What is Centipede Grass?

Centipede grass (Eremochloa ophiuroides) is a perennial grass with medium coarse-textured grass blades and a vibrant apple-green hue. It gets its name from its creeping growth pattern, featuring short, upright stems that grow from stolons, resembling a centipede.

This grass variety is well-adapted to the southern climates and displays excellent drought tolerance. It enters dormancy in cooler temperatures by turning brown but should regain its green color in early spring.

With a slow growth rate, Centipede grass usually takes about two years to reach full maturity. Once matured, it forms a dense, low-maintenance grass lawn that requires minimal fertilizer and reduced mowing. While it prefers at least six hours of full sun, Centipede grass is a heat-tolerant grass but can also withstand moderate shade and is suitable for low-fertility soils.

How to Establish a Centipede Lawn

Centipede lawns can be propagated from grass seed, plug, or sod, But you can easily buy Centipede grass plugs to save you time and labor compared to seeding. The best time to lay sod or install plugs is mid to late spring through early summer, when the soil temperatures are warm or at least 70°F during the day, creating optimal conditions for root growth.

Installing Centipede Grass Sod

The first step to growing Centipede grass, whether through sodding or plugging, is to prepare the soil. This involves removing weeds that can compete with your desired plants for nutrients, water, and sunlight and aerating the soil to improve its composition. This will help the roots penetrate deeply and spread evenly.

A well-rooted grass makes the lawn more resilient against wear, drought, and other external factors. It will also help maximize your lawn's ability to absorb water and nutrients from the soil.

When laying Centipede sod, start by applying non-selective herbicide 10-14 days before installation to remove weeds and any unwanted vegetation. Ensure that you don't water your lawn within 24 hours after treatment.

Afterward, use a sod cutter or rake to remove any dead grass and debris. Besides creating a clean slate for your new Centipede lawn, it will also help loosen your soil to promote better sod-to-soil contact and root penetration.

Planting Centipede Grass Plugs

Establishing a lawn with Centipede grass plugs works essentially the same as with sod—except that you will have to dig the soil to make planting holes for the plugs. Plus, if you're using it to repair damaged areas or fill in bare spots, you can use a selective weed killer to remove weeds without damaging your existing lawn.

For even better results, we recommend using slow-release starter fertilizer to provide a steady and gradual supply of nutrients to your grass plugs. This ensures that your new Centipede turf receives consistent nourishment as the grass adapts to the new soil, promoting healthy root growth.

The slow-release feature of our NutriPod® grass plug nutrition supports sustained nutrient availability and accelerates grass plug establishment by up to two times faster than traditional fertilizers. It also prevents the risk of over-fertilization and nutrient leaching, which can harm your plants and the environment. Read here for a step-by-step guide on how to start a lawn with grass plugs.

Green grass lawn

How to Care For & Maintain Centipede Grass

While Centipede grass generally falls on the low-maintenance spectrum, it does require some care. It is prone to decline, which happens when the grass doesn't green up in the spring and develops dead patches and yellow edges, eventually leading to its untimely demise.

This experience can be discouraging to homeowners, but it's something that can be prevented with proper lawn care maintenance.

Watering

Your newly planted Centipede lawn should be watered daily and thoroughly soaked for the first 10-14 days. Keeping the soil moist can support root growth, helping the grass adapt to the new environment and reducing transplant shock. After it is established, reduce watering to once a week. Deeply water your Centipede grass only when it starts to show signs of water stress—faded color or wilted, curled grass blades.

Mowing

Centipede grass grows slowly and thus requires less mowing than other grasses. For a newly established lawn, we advise starting with a mowing height of two inches in the spring or mid-summer. Gradually lower the height in small increments with each subsequent mow until you reach a height of 1-1.5 inches. It will help your Centipede grass adjust to lower cutting heights, promoting a healthier and denser turf.

Fertilization

Centipede grass thrives in sandy, slightly acidic soils, but it doesn't grow well in high pH. So, before applying any fertilizer, a soil test will help you determine the right balance of nutrients and any amendments your soil requires to set optimal conditions for your lawn to thrive.

While Centipede grass can grow with little or no fertilizer applications, fertilizing 1-2 times a year will yield a healthy grass lawn more resistant to diseases and weather damage. Spring and fall are the best times to fertilize Centipede and other warm-season grasses.

Weed Control

Due to its slow growth rate, Centipede grass is more susceptible to weed infestation. To control weeds, inspect your lawn regularly and manually pull weeds as they emerge. You can also use a post-emergent, selective herbicide for effective weed management.

Grass sod plugs of Bethe Farms

Premium-Quality Centipede Grass Plugs at Bethel Farms

Creating a healthy, thriving lawn takes a comprehensive multi-step approach that goes beyond finding the right grass type and understanding proper maintenance. It also entails sourcing from a reputable sod and grass plugs farm, like Bethel Farms.

We take pride in providing premium-quality Centipede grass sod plugs, helping you establish a strong foundation for a lush, resilient lawn with a visual appeal that lasts even with minimal maintenance.

Shop our range of warm-season grass plug varieties by visiting our website today!

 

Jamie Tedder

Jamie surrently serve as Vice President on the board for Turfgrass Producers of Florida. He currently oversees the production of all grasses throughout all farms in Florida at Bethel Farms. He is actively working with top grass breeders, researchers, producers and end users from public and private institutions around the country to stay up to date on current industry developments. Being a University of Florida graduate, he has applied that knowledge to over 22 years of experience growing spectacular grass!

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