Centipedegrass (with video)

ProPlugger Co - Monday, March 25, 2013

Centipedegrass (with video)Centipedegrass (Eremochloa ophiuroides) arrived in the U.S. from China in 1916. It is a slow growing grass that creeps along the ground with the aid of above-ground shoots, called stolons. Short, upright stems resemble a centipede, hence the name centipedegrass.

This warm season turf grass forms a thick, medium to light green-colored sod. It can tolerate sandy, acidic soil of poor fertility. It is confined primarily to the southeastern U.S., where the soil and climate favors its growth. It requires less mowing than Bermuda or St. Augustine grass and is often called lazy man's grass.

¬≠¬≠¬≠Centipedegrass remains green as long as the temperatures are above 32 degrees, unlike other grasses that go dormant during the winter. The leaves and young stolons are killed during hard freezes. It does not have a true dormant state and resumes growth whenever temperatures are favorable. It grows to a medium height of up to 3.” However, for proper winter protection, mow to no higher than an inch and a half.

Leaf Texture

Medium to coarse (see image insert).

Climate Zone

Centipedegrass loves the warm seasons and grows best in the hotter, mostly humid regions of the United States (to USDA Hardiness Zone 9), particularly in the southeastern corner of the United States, north to the southern tip of Tennessee.

When to Plant

To encourage good root growth, sod plugs and sprigs should be planted when the soil is consistently in the mid-50’s or above. Centipedegrass seed is planted in late spring when the soil has warmed to 70 plus degrees or in very early fall (90 days prior to the first frost date in cooler regions).

Light Requirements

Centipedegrass is moderately shade tolerant and grows best in full sunlight. It is not as salt tolerant as St. Augustine or Bermuda grass.

Soil Preparation

The best way to grow a nice lawn is to properly prepare the soil for planting. Whether you’re planting grass from plugs, sprigs or seed, the finished surface should contain at least six inches of quality topsoil, free of stones and large clumps of soil. Use a rototiller to work up the topsoil; smooth it out with a garden rake.

PH and Fertilizer

pH plays a very important role in your soil's health. It's critical to have your soil tested prior to planting. Your ProPlugger 5-IN-1 Planting Tool will help by plugging out soil samples quickly and easily. Most lawn grasses grow best in a soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5 (centipedegrass will tolerate pH in the 5.0 range). If a soil test indicates a need to add lime, determine the proper amount needed and mix it in to the ground to a depth of about 4 inches. A high pH (7.0) may require supplemental iron or lowering the pH of the soil by adding sulfur. A soil test should also indicate how much fertilizer to add at the time of planting. A newly established lawn of centipedegrass needs moderate amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Feed once per year after the first year. Cease fertilizing in the early fall.


Because centipedegrass turf is a light green color, people sometimes over-fertilize with nitrogen to “green it up.”

Planting Methods

Centipedegrass can be successfully established by growing from seed, plugs, sod or sprigs. Two inch plugs are planted from 6 inch centers.

Is Plugging Centipedegrass Right for You?

ProPlugger Pointer

Many landscape companies as well as DIY homeowners choose plugging as an inexpensive alternative to sodding. For easy cutting and planting of sod plugs, use the ProPlugger 5-IN-1 Planting Tool. This tool will save you time and some serious bending over. Simply step down on the ProPlugger's foot pegs, letting your body weight and gravity do most of the work and start pulling plugs for your planting holes. The same technique works for cutting sod plugs from pieces of purchased sod. (See video above for demonstration).

Depth rings included with the 5-IN-1 allow you to dig the exact depth hole needed (2" or 4"). When no depth ring is used, the 5-IN-1 digs a 6" deep hole. As you pull plugs, the soil gets stored inside the tool and when you're ready to empty, simply turn the tool upside down and soil plugs slide out easily. 

Press the plug in the hole using potting soil to snug into place. It's that easy. .

Watering Requirements

All lawn grasses need to be watered daily during time of establishment. Once established, periodic watering is recommended for centipedegrass. An excellent way to water is with a lawn irrigation system set on a timer.

Insects and Disease

If properly maintained, centipedegrass is pretty much disease and insect free. However, it is best to be on the lookout for chinch bugs, and other insects of lawn turf. Nematode (a microscopic worm that feeds off the roots of turf) is also a possibility. Consult your local extension service for recommendations on controlling or eradicating chinch bugs and nematodes. Disease problems in a lawn turf, such as fungus, are managed mostly by good cultural practices, i.e., mowing, watering and feeding.

Centipedegrass Varieties

Oklawn, Raleigh, Tifblair, Tennessee Hardy, and AU Centennial. "Centiseed®

Neil Moran is a horticulturist and author of three books on gardening. He is also the creator and author of the garden blog North Country Gardening.