It’s time to soak up the sun this summer season! Around this time last year, most of us were actively quarantining with the outbreak of COVID-19. Now that the majority of the United States is currently being vaccinated, it’s no surprise that we want to make the most of this summer season. Whether you’re planning a pool party in the back yard for your kids or throwing a cookout with dad and the neighbors, a gorgeous lawn that stands out from the rest of the neighborhood can make a really great impression. Our summer maintenance tips for your centipede grass will have your lawn looking its best all summer long. Be sure to also check out our series of Homeowner Maintenance Guides for generic centipede grass and Santee® Centipedegrass.
Centipede Grass Summer Mowing
A lot of homeowners hate summer lawn work because of the high temperatures and even humidity in certain areas. Mowing a lawn in these outdoor conditions is not something any of us look forward to. What’s worse, if you skip a week or let the grass get too tall, it becomes harder to push the lawn mower.
Centipede grass should be kept at a mowing height of 1.5–2 inches. If parts of your centipede lawn are located in shady areas, consider keeping these spots slightly higher. A mowing height of 2–2.5 inches should do the trick. Never remove more than a third of the leaf blade. If more than this amount is removed, the grass will stress and turn brown for a short period of time.
If you are returning from a summer vacation, you may have to mow multiple times to get the grass back to its desired height. Be sure to wait about 3–5 days between each mowing. If you want to reduce the amount of time spent outside mowing your lawn as much as possible, check out our blog on Strategies for Reduced Mowing Inputs During the Summer.
Centipede Grass Summer Fertilization
Centipede grass needs different nutrients as seasons change. Sometimes, nutrients like phosphorus, potassium or even micronutrients become more important than nitrogen. This is especially true in the summer. Your lawn will more than likely endure some form of stress from the summer heat around this time. It’s important to feed the grass with the appropriate amount of nutrients to help out with this stressful period.
Nitrogen promotes new growth, which will not survive in the heat of the summer. The wrong fertilizer combined with excess sunlight during the summer can easily cause scorched spots in your yard. Sod University recommends two different fertilizer options for centipede grass during the summer. You will only need to use one of the two options for summer fertilization. Using both at the same time may result in burns in your lawn.
The LawnifiTM Summer Fertilizer Box is a liquid fertilizer program designed to give lawns the nutrients they need to survive and flourish during the hot summer months. With one bottle of Maintain and two bottles of Recover, the Summer Fertilizer Box’s application schedule will give your centipede nutrition all summer long. Maintain’s 16-0-4 formulation works to fortify your lawn with potassium, amino acids and carbon. Recover’s 13-0-0 formulation was created to provide the optimal balance of nutrients to lawns as temperatures start to rise. In addition to nitrogen, Recover delivers critical micronutrients like soluble manganese, iron, sulfur and carbon, which help your lawn get through the dog days of summer. Each bottle of Lawnifi easily hooks right up to the end of your garden hose for an even spray application.
Lawnifi Foundation is a granular fertilizer option that comes in a 25 pound bag and lasts for three months. With a 29-0-5 NPK formulation, Lawnifi Foundation is the perfect granular fertilizer for lawns and gardens. The two percent iron included in Lawnifi Foundation’s mixture helps plants carry oxygen throughout the leaves, roots and other parts of the plants to promote a green, healthy lawn. Featuring slow-release nitrogen, Foundation gradually feeds your lawn over an extended period of time without overwhelming your lawn with nitrogen during the summer. Both Lawnifi Foundation and the Summer Fertilizer Box cover 5,000 sq. ft. Learn more in Granular vs. Liquid Fertilizers or by clicking on the two products below. For more generic information about the Lawnifi brand, read Why Use Lawnifi Fertilizer?.
Centipede Grass Summer Watering
The summer season comes with significantly warmer temperatures and a longer amount of time with sunlight. This frequently tempts homeowners to water the lawn more often to make sure it’s hydrated. This is not always recommended as waterlogged soils in warm climates are ideal environments for disease outbreaks. Despite the hot temperatures that occur during the summer, centipede grass should only need about one inch of water on a weekly basis. This is best accomplished with one or two waterings a week. Water in the early mornings for longer periods of time, less frequently and take any rainfall into consideration. Watering your lawn in the early morning decreases the dew period. As a result, this also decreases the amount of time the grass blades are wet, which is a helpful disease management practice. If you aren’t sure how to measure one inch of water, consider conducting an easy irrigation audit. If the lawn seems to become too warm or starts accumulating scorched, brown spots, consider adding a layer of top dressing to keep it shaded and cool. Read more about this in How to Top Dress Your Lawn with Compost.
Centipede Grass Summer Weed Control
The summer season is one of the worst seasons for herbicide applications on any type of turfgrass. When temperatures reach or exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit, herbicide chemicals will damage the grass. It’s best to wait until it gets cooler and apply a post-emergent herbicide to any weeds that are currently in your yard. In the future, apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring to reduce summer weeds and be sure to apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the fall to keep fall and winter weeds out. Learn more about the timing for herbicide applications in The Best and Worst Times for Herbicide Applications.
This doesn’t stop you from removing weeds during the summer altogether, though. You can always hand-pull or dig out the weeds. You can also spot-treat them with a non-selective herbicide like glyphosate or other non-selective alternatives. Be careful though—non-selective herbicides will kill any plant it comes in contact with whereas a selective herbicide, as its name suggests, will kill off certain types of weeds it’s labeled to treat. Glyphosate and other non-selective herbicides will kill any vegetation it comes in contact with…this includes your grass. If you choose to use a selective herbicide anyway, be sure to use one that has Atrazine as its active ingredient. Centipede grass is sensitive to a lot of herbicides and Atrazine is one of the safer options. Atrazine is also one of the most effective weed killers for centipede grass. You can find Atrazine-based herbicides in Spectracide Weed Stop For Lawns For St. Augustine and Centipede and Hi-Yield Atrazine Weed Killer.
A few common weeds you might see during the summer are knotweed, spurge, lespedeza, crabgrass, goosegrass, dallisgrass, nutsedge and sandbur. If temperatures are below 85 degrees, it is safe to apply post-emergent herbicide for any summer annual and perennial weeds. Be sure to read the label thoroughly before application.
Pictured above from left to right: Knotweed, spurge, lespedeza and crabgrass.
Pictured above from left to right: Goosegrass, dallisgrass, nutsedge and sandbur.
Spectracide Weed Stop For Lawns For St. Augustine & Centipede$16.95
Hi-Yield Atrazine Weed Killer$16.95 – $19.95
Centipede Grass Summer Insect Control
This time of year is the absolute worst time for insect invasions. Bugs like fire ants or mosquitos aren’t the only ones to watch out for—there are a lot of insects that can cause severe damage to your lawn. Some of the most common summer insects include chinch bugs, grub worms, mole crickets, spittlebugs and nematodes.
Pictured above from left to right: A chinch bug, grub worm, mole cricket, spittlebug and nematode.
Grub worms are notorious for causing damage in all types of turfgrass at this time. Preventative treatments for grub worms can be made anytime around June, which is around the time adult beetles are flying around and laying eggs. Apply a systemic insecticide like Merit 0.5G to prevent grubs from taking over. If you notice grub worms in your lawn, Scotts GrubEx or Dylox 6.2 Granular Insecticide can be applied as treatment.
Chinch bugs can also be bad around in centipede lawns at this time. Signs of a chinch bug infestation include a spotty pattern of patchy grass that almost looks like drought damage. On the other hand, a mole cricket infestation can be identified by their tunnels which push up soil and grass, as well as the presence of brown and dying grass due to mole cricket feeding habits. Nematodes can be a little tricky to spot because they are located below the soil in the roots and they are microscopic. Signs included stunted plant growth, premature wilting and the yellowing of leaf blades (chlorosis). Lastly, spittlebugs love centipede grass. You can easily spot them simply by walking through your lawn and seeing if any start jumping around. You may even notice “spittle”, or a white frothy substance that accumulates on the leaves of your grass or ornamentals. Spittlebug nymphs create this to hide from predators while they’re young.
Some of the insect control products listed below are labeled to treat these common insects. Be sure to read the label thoroughly before application. Learn more about different types of lawn insects in Insect Identification.
Centipede Grass Summer Fungus Control
During the summer, disease outbreaks in warm season lawns are pretty rare, but they aren’t unheard of. If you mistakenly overwater your lawn due to high temperatures instead of using top dressing, you will have a lot of standing water in your lawn combined with warm temperatures. Warm and wet conditions are optimal environments for disease outbreaks. Centipede lawns are usually prone to brown patch, dollar spot and fairy ring.
Pictured above: Dollar spot in a home lawn.
Oftentimes, simply keeping up with appropriate maintenance practices keeps your centipede lawn strong and healthy so that it can better fight off disease outbreaks or quickly recover from them. These practices include mowing at the right height, using a regular fertilizer regimen, watering your lawn so that it receives one inch of water per week, regularly applying preventive applications of weed, insect and disease control and making sure the grass receives sunlight throughout the day.
However, there are a few recommended disease control products we’ve listed below. Be sure to read the label thoroughly before application. You can learn more about these diseases in Identifying Common Lawn Diseases.
Summer maintenance tips for your centipede lawn are mostly about keeping it healthy and stress-free during the hot summer temperatures so that you can have the best yard possible. These tips will help it continue to thrive when temperatures eventually cool down and we enter into the fall season.