The Best Fertilizer for Centipede Grass

The centipede grass is very well adaptive to the climate and soils of the southeastern part of the United States. It is a low growing low maintenance grass with low fertility requirements, but brings about a high quality lawn. It is naturally pale or yellow green, so overfertilizing it to achieve a darker green color is completely unnecessary, not to mention harmful to the centipede grass. It would reduce the grass’ tolerance to cold and increase long-term maintenance problems causing its decline and damage. Using a fertilizer for centipede grass is one of its maintenance keys and important aspects of care.

Doing well in acidic and infertile soils is probably the greatest advantage of centipede grass. Whether it is established from seeds, sods, sprigs or plugs, fertility requirements are still low compared to other lawn grasses. But to keep it healthy, a specific fertilizer for centipede grass would be more than helpful. Proper fertilization is advised by having the soil tested first and then annually. It particularly determines the level of phosphorus in the soil because to have a satisfactory centipede lawn growth, it requires little or no phosphorus at all. A local Cooperative Extension Service office has those recommendations and bags for taking soil samples to be submitted to the Extension Soil Testing Lab for analysis.

The centipede grass does not respond well to heavy use of fertilizer. It should not be over fertilized with nitrogen to make it equally green with the St. Augustine in color because this will result to grass decline, insect pressure and thatch buildup. More than ½ lb. of water soluble nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. of lawn area do not make up a good fertilizer for centipede grass and any other lawn grasses. Up to 1 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. may be applied at one time only, but at least 50% of it should be in a careful slow release form.

As much as possible, there should be no phosphorus in a fertilizer for centipede grass. It inhibits the ability of this warm season grass to absorb iron. Since the centipede grass is prone to iron deficiency that ferrous sulfate or chelate is sometimes used as soil additives, having phosphorus can be the cause of its damage. While those additions are usually applied on heavier soils with a pH level of more than 7.2 and on sandy soils with a pH of more than 6.5, it still works best with the necessary mowing and watering. Another vital component in a fertilizer for centipede grass is potassium. It increases the grass’ tolerance to cold temperature and drought. Thus, the best and chemically proper fertilizer for centipede grass is 15-0-15 of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

With a weed control property, centipede grass will also have a good start in the spring, as the fewer grasses and weeds have to compete for these nutrients, the better the centipede grass will grow. But this fertilizer for centipede grass should be applied at the time of planting and added on yearly. Proper fertilization is one of the best management practices for the overall health of a lawn.