A website from UGA Cooperative Extension

Lawn and gardening information for Colquitt County from the Extension office..

Centipede lawns are ideal for homeowners who want a low-maintenance, great-looking lawn. County agents often do not receive calls from homeowners when their lawns look great.  I get calls when things are not so good.  Let’s discuss some common questions about centipede lawns.

When do I apply fertilizer to my centipede? Good question. I would apply the spring application of nitrogen when the 4-inch soil temperature reaches 65 degrees F consistently.  If you would like to monitor soil temperatures, please go to the UGA Weather Network. 

How much fertilizer do I apply? Well, it is a guess unless you soil test.  For your P and K recommendations please base off a soil test.  You can learn about soil sampling from your local County Extension office.  Please do not over-fertilize centipede lawns because it is a very common issue that can contribute to centipede decline.  One pound of nitrogen per 1,000 sq feet is enough for centipede lawns. The best way to manage nitrogen is to split your nitrogen three times over the year which would be 1/3 lb of nitrogen per application.  If you only want to apply nitrogen two times per year, then apply 4 pounds of 16-4-8 per 1000 square feet after spring green-up and again in mid-summer.

What about iron? If the grass shows signs of iron chlorosis (yellowing of leaves), apply ferrous sulfate at 1 tablespoon per 3 gallons of water to each 1,000 square feet of grass. Applications of iron will only temporarily darken the green color of centipedegrass and may need to be applied every two to four weeks. Chlorosis can also be a symptom of more permanent problems like improper soil pH and an elevated soil phosphorus level. A soil test can help confirm the cause of centipedegrass yellowing.

What soil pH do I need?  Centipede lawns prefer to have a soil pH of 5.0 to 6.0.  Factors such as the pH increasing above 6.0 and the lawn having high phosphorous levels can lead to decreased iron availability. If the lime recommendation is greater than 50 pounds per 1000 square feet, split the application and apply only half of the recommended amount. Wait 4 months and then retest for soil pH and lime requirement only. Take All disease of centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass may sometimes occur if too much lime is applied; retesting before applying more lime is a precautionary measure to avoid problems with Take All disease.

What is the preferred mowing height? Please mow the centipede to a height of 1 to 1.5 inches.  The clippings do not have to be removed if the grass is mowed often enough so that no more than one-third of the leaf is removed.

I have an irrigation system how do I water my lawn? An irrigation system can be a great thing if used correctly.  When your lawn starts to show signs of drought stress, apply enough water to soak the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches. This is usually the equivalent of about 1 inch of rainfall or 600 gallons of water per 1,000 sq. feet. If the soil becomes compacted, then core aeration will be recommended. This will allow water to penetrate deeper into the soil profile.

If you have questions about the lawn, please contact your local county Extension agent.

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