Centipedegrass is a low-maintenance grass type that requires less mowing and takes a long period to grow back between mowing cycles. This is a drought-tolerant grass as it grows close to the ground which helps conserve water. It can also survive cold winters and recover from light freezes. It is a creeping perennial that can adapt to low-fertile sandy soils and acidic soils. In this article, we tell you more about the process to care for this plant.
The botanical name of centipedegrass is Eremochloa ophiuroides. It was introduced in America in 1919 and is originally from China. Its place of origin gives rise to its other common names like 'China Grass' or 'Chinese Lawn Grass'. It is a slow-growing perennial grass. It spreads through stolons. It looks like a centipede and thus, is named after it. It easily adapts to full sun or partial shade and is ideal for lawns that have limited care and maintenance.
It looks like St. Augustine grass, but is different in texture. The size of the leaves are medium in width but finer than those of St. Augustine grass. The stolons have internodes and the roots develop at these internodes. This helps in developing a good, thick lawn.
The garden can be easily managed by routine mowing. The grass is not as wear resistant as bermuda grass or zoysia grass and can be controlled with edging. You can practice the process of edging once a year.
How to Plant it
The grass can be planted in the form of seeds or by vegetative planting. Plugging, sprigging, or sodding are some of the ways of vegetative propagation. It needs a soil pH of 5.0 to 5.5 for best growth. It may develop severe iron chlorosis, that is, yellowing in a soil that has a pH of more than 6.5.
You will find that the seeds are very expensive and the seedling rate is low. You need to buy only those seeds that have a purity rate of 90% or more. You should buy ¼ to ½ pound of seed per 1,000 square feet of the area that you are planning on sowing. You need to mix 1 pound of centipedegrass with 20 pounds of dry sand to obtain best results.
You should plant the seeds between April to July as this is the full growing season for the seeds to germinate. It takes about 2 to 3 weeks to germinate and thus, you need to mulch to prevent soil erosion and loss of seeds.
How to Cut the Grass
You need to cut the grass according to the correct mowing height and frequency to help it grow better. It should be mowed at a height of about 1 to 1½ inches and the frequency should be such that only about 30% of the leaf area is removed. The mowing height should be increased during drought periods. If you keep the mowing height below 1 inch it will reduce the density of the lawn and make your turf thinner. If you mow too high or irregularly, you will cause a buildup of thatch. This may injure the plant in cold weather and during drought stress.
There are a few problems that you may observe. They have poor tolerance to low temperature, and extreme cold winters may lead to their death. They are not wear resistant and cannot tolerate high traffic, high phosphorus soils, low potassium soils, and soil compactions. They also have problems with high soil pH, excessive thatch, salt, and heavy shade. Another very frequent problem is its susceptibility to pests.
This grass is aggressive and can lead to the death of other weeds and grasses. It is one of the most popular grasses in the southeastern states. You can speak to your local plant nursery for more guidance about the same.