HOW TO SPREAD YOUR CENTIPEDE GRASS
Spreading Your Centipede Grass
Low maintenance does not equal no maintenance, especially when you’re trying to figure out how to make centipede grass spread. There are several lawn maintenance tasks you must undertake when first attempting to grow a healthy centipede grass lawn:
Mowing — Although centipede grass grows rather slowly, it still requires mowing at times. Keep the grass level at 1 to 1.5 inches. If the grass is allowed to grow taller than that, it can suffer deterioration. Be sure the lawnmower blades are sharp or they will tear the grass rather than cut it cleanly.
Weeding — Weeding may be needed if the lawn hasn’t received proper lawn care for a while. Apply an herbicide in early spring to prevent new weed growth, and then again as needed to control and prevent weeds. There are herbicides designed especially for centipede grass.
Watering — Many areas of the coastal plains receive enough rainfall during the spring and summer to keep centipede grass healthy, but watering may be needed during dry winter months.
The lawn should also be watered if you begin to notice signs of dehydration, such as the grass blades starting to curl and change color. Thatching — Centipede grass produces thatch, which is a combination of shed stems, roots and other lawn debris. There can be excessive thatch if the lawn is over-fertilized or watered too much, or if the centipede grass is allowed to grow too tall. Thatch is harmful to your lawn because it can create a barrier between the grass and the soil. The grassroots grow into the thatch instead of the soil, and because thatch dries out much quicker than soil does, it can affect the health of the lawn. Additionally, thatch can prevent fertilizers and pesticides from reaching the soil. To prevent and reduce the accumulation of thatch on your lawn, you can apply a top dressing composed of a thin layer of organic matter that helps to break down thatch. A dethatching rake can be used on small lawns.
For large lawns, dethatching machines are available, though dethatching and top dressings are lawn maintenance tasks better suited to professional lawn care companies. Aerating — Core aeration is also a strong preventive measure to control thatch. Aeration allows water and air to reach the roots and maintain the health of your lawn. A large core aeration machine typically requires some training to use it properly, so it’s also better left to the professionals. Fertilizing — Proper fertilization is important for the healthy growth of centipede grass. You should conduct a soil test before you apply fertilizer so that you can be sure you purchase and apply the right kind. Once centipede grass is established, it only requires a light application of fertilizer once a year.
A slow-release fertilizer is also recommended because it will reduce the chances of over-fertilization. The ideal soil pH for centipede grass is 5.5. A soil pH of 6.0 or higher can be detrimental to centipede grass and needs to be corrected before the centipede grass can grow and spread. You can apply sulfur to lower alkalinity and provide better soil conditions for centipede grass. It can take some time for soil changes to occur, so you may have to be patient if you need a large adjustment. Fertilizer calculations are especially important during the early stages of centipede grass growth. The size of your lawn and the current soil pH are also important factors in these calculations.
It can be a difficult task to achieve the proper balance without ample experience in lawn care. Seeing Results Growing a centipede grass lawn takes time. The grass will grow slowly over the first year or two, but if you remain patient and ensure that the soil maintains the proper pH for centipede grass, the grass will spread quickly by the third year. Seeding should be done during the months of April to July when the weather is warm enough for the seeds to germinate. Germination can take two to four weeks under ideal conditions.