There are few things as demoralizing as discovering that your centipede grass is more weed than centipede grass. The first step in renovating a centipede grass lawn is to admit that there is a problem. There are two categories of problems that will ruin a lawn: maintenance problems and fundamental problems. Unfortunately, the results of both often appear the same. For instance, a thinning lawn may be the result of improper mowing or poor drainage. Think about your lawn's history and work your way toward the logical cause.
Correcting Maintenance Problems in Centipede Grass
Although centipede grass is "lazy man's grass," a healthy lawn has distinct requirements. This means that you should care for your lawn enough but not too much. Try to determine if your are skipping, or overdoing, any critical steps. Are you fertilizing moderately, mowing at the right height, mowing consistently, aerating, irrigating, and applying pre emergence weed control? Do you have an insect or disease problem? Address these problems accurately to stimulate your grass to grow denser, fill voids, and darken in color. Do not renovate your lawn during the two months when lawns are greening in the spring and the two months when your lawn is going dormant in the fall.
Correcting Fundamental Problems in Centipede Grass
There are times when a centipede grass lawn will not grow well despite your best efforts. In these frustrating situations, it is wise to remember that centipede grass will not necessarily grow where all plants have failed. In fact, in certain situations there may be hundreds of plants that are better suited for a particular area. Remember this as you read the remedies. The most efficient and inexpensive approach might be to reconfigure or abandon areas that are not suitable for a lawn.
SHADE: While centipede grass will grow in a moderate amount of shade it will become thin and weak in dense shade. You may be forced to remove a few tree limbs or reduce the size of your lawn to avoid the shade. Raising the mowing height in the shaded areas may alleviate some of the problem but is often impractical. Also consider this: Areas of dense shade often have a high density of tree roots. Increase your irrigation in the shaded areas temporarily to see if the problem is actually drought.
COMPACTED SOIL: Centipede grass will thin and die in compacted soil that is low in oxygen. Consider aerating with lazyman liquid gold or lazyman liquid aerator. Also, evaluate the cause of the compaction and correct continuing problems by creating walkways for people and pets.
POOR DRAINAGE: Centipede grass needs well drained soil to grow well. There are a few things worse for centipede grass than wet, soggy soil. These are also some of the most difficult and expensive problems to correct. Before you begin, determine the source of the water and where it is trying to flow. Occasionally, you can correct poor drainage by diverting a water source (like a gutter outlet) or removing and obstruction (clogged ditch). Other solutions include re-grading, French drains, and surface drains. Once the soil dries, use lazyman liquid gold or lazyman liquid aerator to help renovate the root zone.
IMPROPER pH: Centipede grass grows best at a low soil pH between 4.5 - 5.5. If your soil is naturally alkaline, or if you have recently limed the area, your lawn will grow slowly, lose density, and turn light green/yellow despite your best maintenance practices. Always consider your maintenance before you blame soil pH. If you suspect soil pH, take a soil sample to your local cooperative extension agency for testing. They will recommend the amount of elemental sulfur needed to correct the problem.
Recipe for Growing Season Renovation with Centipede Grass (May through August)
- Kill Weeds:Spray weedy areas with a post emergence weed control as soon as possible. Young weeds die faster than mature weeds
- Rake:Rake the entire lawn vigorously with a metal tined rake to remove leaves, dead weeds, grass clippings, rocks, etc.
- Mow:Check your mowing height and mow frequently.
- Irrigate:Water deeply once every week if there has been no rain. Don’t drop the ball! Even shorts periods of drought can cause discoloration.
- Fertilize:Fertilize moderately if you have not done so this year.
- Aerate:Aerate with Lazyman Liquid Gold or Lazyman Liquid aerator to stimulate grass to grow and spread.
- Correct the pH:Consider having a soil test performed by your local cooperative extension agency
- Control Future Weeds:Apply pre emergence weed control ON TIME in the fall (see weed control)
Recipe for Dormant Season Renovation with Centipede Grass (May through August)
- Kill Weeds: Spray weedy areas with a post emergence weed control as soon as possible, on a warm day. Young weeds die faster than mature weeds (see Weed Control). Hand pull problem weeds like bunches of fescue.
- Control Future Weeds: Apply pre emergence weed control ON TIME in late winter (seed Weed Control).
- Rake: Mow your lawn to one inch in late February/early March. Rake and remove all the debris (see mowing).
- Wait: until late April to fertilize and late May to aerate.
Links Regarding Maintaining a Centipede Grass Lawn
Centipede Grass Seed