26 Feb Spring Maintenance Tips for Your Centipede Grass Lawn
Spring Maintenance Tips for Your Centipede Grass Lawn
With centipede grass serving as one of the most popular turfgrasses for home lawns, proper maintenance is essential. Yearly maintenance begins in the spring as most turfgrass starts to come out of dormancy from winter’s cooler temperatures. As a warm season turfgrass, centipede grass enters dormancy and turns brown as a mechanism to survive during the winter. As centipede sod comes out of dormancy, it’s important to perform the proper maintenance for it. Read below for a compiled list of spring lawn care tips for centipede grass. Be sure to also check out our maintenance guides for generic centipede and Santee® Centipede.
Centipede Grass Spring Mowing
Mowing your mature, established centipede lawn come springtime will give it room to promote new, green growth so that it can really flourish throughout the duration of the entire year. The timing for which the first mow of your centipede should take place widely varies on which area or climate zone you live in. In southern parts of the United States, like South Florida, centipede grass may have never gone dormant due to the warmth and lack of freezing temperatures. Oftentimes, homeowners will actually continue to mow their lawn every other week during the winter. This can last from September through mid-March in which a regular mowing schedule resumes again.
Generally speaking for most of the United States with centipede lawns, mid-March is about the time to begin spring green-up and mowing practices.
Keep your centipede between 1.5–2 inches in height during the spring. In the summer, you can let your grass grow a little taller by never removing more than a third of the leaf blade.
Lastly, a good tip for spring is to make sure your lawn mower blades are sharpened so that the mower blades neatly slice through the grass in place of ripping them. If the grass blades aren’t cut neatly, the mower is ripping them and opens the grass up to possibility of disease. Performing regular maintenance on your mower is good practice for the end of the mowing season or before spring takes place.
Centipede Grass Spring Fertilizing
As centipede comes out of dormancy, another strategy you can use to promote new growth is adopt a spring fertilizer regimen. Spring fertilizer slightly differs from summer or fall fertilizers because your grass’s needs vary each season. For example, during the summer, your grass needs nutrients to endure the heat whereas during the fall, your grass needs nutrients to prepare for dormancy and colder temperatures. The same can be said for spring when your grass is transitioning out of dormancy and needs healthy roots and the return of green leaf blades.
Be careful about your timing of the first fertilizer application of the year though—it is common for homeowners to see their grass green up and immediately pull out the fertilizer and lawn mower. We advise that you typically wait until the last frost has hit. If you fertilize your lawn and another frost hits, your warm season centipede will go right back into dormancy and you’ll have a harder time getting it to green up again. This does more harm than good.
With that being said, the date of the last frost varies from location to location. In the Florida Panhandle, for example, centipede may not go dormant yet reach its full green-up in early February (depending on how cold the winter was). Even then, you won’t want to apply fertilizer until after Easter once the last frost has passed. Refer to the Farmer’s Almanac to figure out the last frost date for your area in 2021.
Sod University recommends two different options for centipede grass spring fertilization: Lawnifi Foundation, a slow-release granular option that comes in 25 lb. bags and lasts for three months, and our Lawnifi Spring Fertilizer Box, a liquid fertilizer program that includes three bottles of liquid fertilizer that can be applied monthly with a hose-end sprayer. Each option covers 5,000 sq. ft. Learn more in Granular vs. Liquid Fertilizers or by clicking the two products listed below. Our patented nano-fertilizers with Catalyst TechnologyTM give your centipede lawn the jump-start it needs to emerge from dormancy, green up fast and thrive throughout the spring months. Read Why Use Lawnifi Fertilizer? for more information about Lawnifi.
Next, it is important to mention that if you have a centipede lawn, you may start to notice spots of brown or straw-like grass while the rest of your lawn comes out of dormancy. This is usually a sign of disease. You do not want to apply fertilizer to a lawn with disease as the nitrogen in the fertilizer will feed the disease and promote its growth. Apply a systemic fungicide first and then wait several weeks before following with a fertilizer application.
Centipede Grass Spring Watering
During the winter months when grass is dormant, irrigation is less frequent. You don’t want it to dry out, but you don’t want to over water your grass and promote disease either. Once it starts to come out of dormancy, however, centipede grass will require about one inch of water per week including rainfall. Sometimes it can be difficult to know the exact amount of water your irrigation system is delivering. If this is the case, performing a simple and cost effective irrigation audit may be beneficial.
If you live far enough south, your centipede may not enter dormancy at all. If this is the case, you may have continued watering your centipede in the winter. Using South Florida as an example again, you may turn your irrigation system off completely during the winter and during the months of June–August when it rains a lot. In fact, the atmosphere in South Florida isn’t usually evaporating much water and the grass isn’t using it much during the winter, so frequent irrigation isn’t needed.
The next few tips in this article discuss spring applications for fungicides, herbicides or insecticides. If any of these control products or fertilizers are granular, you will need to water the product in so that your lawn absorbs it. This means that you will already be watering your lawn with the appropriate amount of water during the week of application. The same can be said with any liquid products as they are either products that attach to the end of your garden hose or require tank mixing with water.
Centipede Grass Spring Weed Control
One of the most commonly sought after lawn care tools at this time is pre-emergent herbicides. A pre-emergent herbicide functions to prevent weeds from emerging from the surface of the soil. In opposition, a post-emergent herbicide treats currently existing weeds. There is a small window of time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide with effective results that occurs twice a year—once in the spring to prevent summer centipede grass weeds and once in the fall to prevent winter weeds. It’s actually not recommended you use an herbicide in the summer or winter, so pre-emergents can be especially useful for this reason. Read more about this in The Best and Worst Times for Herbicide Applications.
In the spring, however, a pre-emergent herbicide should be applied once soil temperatures reach about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The exact dates for these applications differ depending on the area you live in, but generally speaking, pre-emergents should be applied between March 1st and March 15th. This is especially useful if you get a lot of weeds like goosegrass or crabgrass. This will in turn save you time and money spent on even more product and effort from pulling weeds that will appear in the future.
For more information, read our blog on spring pre-emergent applications and refer to our recommended pre-emergent herbicides below.
- Coverage: 50 lbs. covers about 12,500 sq. ft.
- Active Ingredient(s): Prodiamine 0.37%.
- Ease of Use: Requires granular drop or broadcast spreader for application.
- Best Used On/For: Established warm and cool season turfgrass before weeds appear.
If you notice any broadleaf weeds, control them with post-emergent herbicides. Centipede grass is sensitive to certain herbicides (2,4-D and MSMA), so read product labels thoroughly before applying. Southern Ag Atrazine and Spectracide Weed Stop For Lawns For St. Augustine and Centipede Lawns.
Centipede Grass Spring Insect Control
Some lawns are prone to insect damage while others are not. This can depend on a lot of environmental factors. The main insects you will want to look out for in centipede grass at this time are white grub worms and mole crickets. Regardless, it’s a good idea to apply a broad-spectrum insecticide at this time to prevent any insects from taking over. If the insecticide is granular, be sure to water it in. If it is a liquid product, you will either need to attach it to the end of your garden hose or tank mix it. You can read more about these insects in our Insect Identification blog. Refer to some of our most popular and effective insect control products below.
Pictured above from left to right: White grub worms and a mole cricket.
Centipede Grass Spring Fungus Control
As previously mentioned, circular brown or yellow spots may start to show up as centipede grass comes out of dormancy. This is a sign of disease and you may need to make applications of a systemic fungicide. Even if you don’t have disease in your lawn, it’s still good practice to apply it preventively to keep disease from taking over—especially if you’ve had disease in the past around this time. Systemic fungicide applications should take place before you apply any spring fertilizer. If you have fungus in your lawn, the nitrogen found in fertilizers oftentimes feeds it and helps it spread. Apply a systemic fungicide and wait a few weeks before applying any fertilizer.
- Coverage: One bottle covers 2,500 sq. ft.
- Active Ingredient(s): Propiconazole 1.45% and Lamda-cyhalothrin 0.08%.
- Ease of Use: Hooks up to your garden hose for even spray application.
- Best Used On/For: Outdoor topical/contact fungus and general insect control.
Pictured above: Spring dead spot.
Lastly, if you notice thatch that is thicker than 1⁄2 inch, dethatch in late May. For compact soils, consider aerating in late spring instead. Read more in Aerating vs. Dethatching.
Spring maintenance tips differ from other practices that take place during the rest of the year. Weather starts to warm up and everything will turn green again, so you lawn needs different things at this time. Be sure to check out our individual Homeowner Maintenance Guides for generic centipede and Santee® Centipede
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