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Common Centipede Grass Problems

Common Centipede Grass Problems

Centipede grass is a hardy and low-maintenance turfgrass, but despite its robust nature it can still suffer from some issues. From fungal diseases to infestations of insects and weeds, there are quite a few common problems that can be encountered with this type of lawn. If you’re noticing damage to your centipede grass or struggling to maintain lushness throughout the growing season, then it’s likely one of these issues has taken hold. In this blog post we’ll explore the common problems associated with centipede lawns and share tips on how to identify and address each one. By tackling the issue quickly you can minimize further damage so your yard will continue to look attractive year round!

What Is Centipede Grass?

Centipede grass is a low-maintenance, warm season turfgrass commonly found in yards and gardens. It grows best in sandy soils and has an excellent drought tolerance. Its bright green color and fine texture make it an attractive choice for many homeowners looking to fill out their lawns with lush coverage.

What Does Centipede Like?

In order to maintain a healthy centipede grass lawn, there are certain environmental conditions that need to be met. Centipede grass thrives in full sun and well-drained soils. It prefers acidic soil with an optimal pH of 5-6. It is important to provide regular irrigation during periods of drought or extended dry spells.

Additionally, adding a layer of mulch can help retain moisture for the grass and will also reduce the amount of weeds in the area. Centipede grass requires very little fertilization and should only be done when necessary; too much fertilizer can lead to problems like leaching, burning, and disease. [1]

What Does Centipede Like?

Common Centipede Grass Problems

Dollar Spot

Dollar spot is a type of fungus that can cause brown spots on the surface of Centipede grass. It usually appears in hot, humid weather and is caused by poor soil drainage. To treat dollar spots, apply a fungicide according to the directions on the label.

Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs are small insects that suck sap from grass blades, causing them to dry out and turn yellow or brown. They’re most active during late summer months when temperatures reach above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. To get rid of chinch bugs, apply an insecticide according to the directions on the label.

Grub Worms

Grub worms are a common problem that can plague centipede grass. These white, c-shaped insects feed on the roots of your lawn and create brown patches where the turf has been killed off. To identify grub worm damage, examine the soil around affected areas. If you see several small curved larvae in the top few inches of soil, you may have a grub worm infestation.

Treatment for grub worms typically involves chemical pesticides or beneficial nematodes to kill them off. For more information about dealing with grubs in your lawn, contact your local extension office for advice on treatments and prevention methods. [2]

Mole Crickets

Mole crickets can also be an issue for centipede grass. These pests feed on the roots of the turf, causing small holes in the lawn that appear as little piles of dirt next to yellow spots. If you suspect mole crickets are lurking beneath your lawn, use a spade or shovel to dig around affected areas and inspect for these insects.

Similar to grub worms, chemical insecticides are typically used to treat mole cricket infestations. However, some species of beneficial nematodes have been found effective against mole crickets as well. Be sure to follow all label instructions when applying any chemicals and avoid treating during periods of extreme heat or cold.


Spittlebugs may also be a problem in centipede grass. These insects create white, foamy masses on the leaves of affected plants that can cause discoloration and stunted growth. Spittlebugs are not typically considered serious pests but they can become quite bothersome if left untreated.

To control spittlebugs, use insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils to smother them without harming your lawn. Beneficial wasps or lady beetles have also been known to feed on these pests, helping to minimize their population in a natural way. It is important to remain vigilant when caring for any type of lawn turf, including centipede grass. [3]


Ground Pearls

Ground pearls are tiny white balls, about the size of a grain of sand or smaller, that form from calcium carbonate in centipede grass. They often appear on the surface of lawns in dry periods and can be especially problematic when they accumulate to form mounds. If your lawn is being plagued by ground pearls, rake them up and dispose of them.

To prevent further problems with ground pearls, increase irrigation during dry periods and make sure your soil pH is between 5.5-6.0; if it’s higher than 6, lower it with an iron sulfate application.

Brown Patch

Brown patch is a fungal disease that affects centipede grass and other types of turfgrass. It looks like an expanding circle of brown turf, with a dark border surrounding it; the area can be several inches to several feet in diameter. The fungus thrives in humid climates and during hot summer months when grasses are under stress from lack of water or over-fertilization.

To prevent brown patch, keep your lawn well-watered but not overly saturated, and avoid over-fertilizing. If you suspect your lawn has been infected with brown patch, apply a fungicide according to label instructions for best results. [4]

Over Fertilizing

Centipede grass is a low-maintenance turfgrass and requires very little fertilizer. It can be easily damaged by over-fertilizing, resulting in brown spots or yellowing of the grass. To avoid this, use only a slow-release fertilizer with an analysis of 8-4-4 or 10-10-10 if the lawn needs fertilization. Applying too much nitrogen can cause excessive thatch buildup which may lead to infestation by chinch bugs, sod webworms, and brown patch fungus.


Thatch buildup can also occur if the lawn is mowed too short. It is best to maintain a mowing height of 1-1/2 to 2 inches as this will help reduce thatch buildup and prevent insect infestations. It’s important to water centipede grass deeply, but infrequently. Watering too much can lead to an accumulation of shallow roots which makes the grass more susceptible to drought and prone to damage from heavy traffic. Conversely, not enough water causes it to dry out and become dormant during dry spells.


Effects Of The Weather On Centipede Grass

Centipede grass is susceptible to several weather-related problems. In cold winter climates, freezing temperatures can cause the grass to become dormant, leading to decline in overall health. If the temperature drops below 15 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period of time, the turf may not survive.

Drought conditions can also lead to significant damage to centipede grass if watering is not provided on a regular basis during periods of little rainfall. When grown in sunny locations with excessive heat and humidity, this type of grass may suffer from leaf scorch or sunburned blades that turn brown or yellow due to overexposure.

Centipede grass may also experience significant damage from heavy traffic or improper mowing heights that cause excess stress and weaken the turf. In order to ensure a healthy lawn, it is important to provide adequate irrigation and drainage when appropriate, mow at the recommended height for centipede grass, reduce traffic as much as possible, and use pest control methods only when needed.

With proper care, this type of grass can be an attractive and durable lawn solution in many climates. [5]

Nutrient Deficiencies

Centipede grass is naturally low in nutrient requirements, but if not properly fed and maintained, it may suffer from a lack of essential minerals. Symptoms of nutrient deficiencies can include yellowing or discolored patches and weak turf.

To keep the grass healthy and vigorous, regularly apply fertilizer that is formulated specifically for centipede grass throughout the growing season according to manufacturer recommendations.

Also be sure to check soil pH levels periodically as an acidic environment can result in increased nutrient deficiencies.

How to Treat Centipede Grass: Easy Tips

The best way to treat common centipede grass problems is by using preventive maintenance and following the recommended cultural practices. That means mowing, watering and fertilizing your lawn properly as well as controlling weeds and pests. Here are some other tips for treating common centipede grass problems:

  1. Mow high – Allow your centipede grass to grow taller than usual in order to shade out weeds. The optimal height for healthy growth is 1-2 inches, although you should never go below 0.5 inch or above 3 inches.
  2. Water deeply but infrequently – Watering your lawn too frequently can cause root rot, which can be fatal for centipede grass. Aim for about an inch of water per week, split into two watering sessions.
  3. Fertilize twice a year – Fertilizing your lawn is key for healthy growth and should be done in early spring and late fall. Use a balanced fertilizer with an equal ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
  4. Control weeds – Centipede grass is relatively resistant to weed infestation but regular application of pre-emergent herbicides can help keep it at bay. Be sure to select the right product for your particular grass type and follow the directions carefully when applying it.
  5. Treat pests – Check centipede grass regularly for signs of pest damage such as yellowing leaves or dead patches. If you identify any pests, use a pesticide formulated specifically for centipede grass. Make sure to follow the label instructions and wear protective gear while applying it.

By following these tips you can help keep common centipede grass problems at bay and maintain a healthy, beautiful lawn that will last for years to come. [6]

How to Treat Centipede Grass: Easy Tips

How Long For Centipede Seed To Germinate?

Centipede grass will germinate in approximately 7-10 days after sowing, provided the conditions are right. The ideal temperature range for germination is 75–85°F (24–29°C) with soil moisture kept at a moderate level. If temperatures drop below this range, it can take longer for the seed to germinate.

In addition, soil that is too wet or dry can cause delays in germination as well. It’s important to make sure the area where you’re planting your centipede grass has good drainage and keep it evenly moist throughout the growing season. Too much water can lead to disease problems like root rot, while too little water causes stress on the plants resulting in yellowing and wilting.

Finally, for the best results, it’s important to use quality seed when planting centipede grass. Poor quality seed may germinate slowly or not at all due to low viability or poor storage conditions. With all these factors taken into account, you should be able to expect germination within 7-10 days after sowing your centipede grass seeds.

If you find that your centipede grass is taking longer than expected to germinate, then check the soil moisture and temperature levels again as well as the quality of your seed. Taking a few extra steps can help ensure a healthy and vigorous lawn in no time!

How Long For Centipede Seed To Germinate?

How Should I Mow Centipede Grass?

When mowing centipede grass, it is important to keep the blades on your lawnmower sharp. Dull blades will tear or rip the grass instead of giving it a clean cut. In addition, you should use a mower with a low setting, typically 1-2 inches high. This will help keep the grass healthy and prevent it from becoming stressed out.

When possible, you should also avoid scalping your centipede lawn; never remove more than one-third of the blade’s length when cutting. Lastly, don’t forget to collect clippings! Leaving them on the lawn can lead to thatch build-up and other problems with your centipede grass.

It’s also important to mow regularly, preferably every 5-7 days. This will help the grass stay healthy and prevent it from becoming overgrown. During high-growth periods like spring and summer, you may need to mow more frequently. In addition, try to avoid using a bag when collecting clippings; research has shown that leaving them on the lawn can benefit centipede grass health by providing extra nutrients.

By following these guidelines, you can keep your centipede grass looking great while avoiding common problems associated with overgrown or unhealthy turf. A little effort and maintenance now can mean healthier grass and fewer headaches in the future!

How Can You Make Centipede Grass Thicker?

Making centipede grass thicker is possible, but it requires careful attention to its growing conditions. The best way to promote thick growth of centipede grass is through proper lawn maintenance practices. To begin, mow the grass regularly at a height of 1.5-2 inches and water thoroughly when soil appears dry.

Additionally, fertilize your lawn once or twice a year with a fertilizer specifically designed for centipede grass such as an 18-0-6 or 16-4-8 formulation.

Finally, make sure that your yard has good drainage; standing water can create problems for healthy grass growth and lead to disease issues. By following these steps, you should be able to improve the thickness of your centipede grass over time. [7]

Overseeding An Existing Lawn With Centipede Grass

Overseeding an existing lawn with centipede grass can be a tricky process. If done correctly, however, it can help keep your lawn looking lush and healthy for years to come. The first step is to identify the type of grass you already have in your yard and how thick it is. Once you’ve identified this information, you should then apply a pre-emergent herbicide before overseeding with centipede grass.

This will help prevent any weeds from sprouting up amongst the new seedlings while they’re establishing strong roots. When applying the seed, be sure to use a spreader or rake so that it’s evenly distributed throughout the area. Watering regularly will also help the new grass establish itself. Lastly, fertilizing with a slow-release fertilizer will give your centipede grass the nutrients it needs to thrive for years to come.

By following these steps, you can successfully overseed an existing lawn with centipede grass and enjoy a lush, healthy lawn for many seasons ahead. Just remember to stay vigilant when it comes to common centipede grass problems such as fungus, disease and weeds in order to keep your lawn looking its best.  With proper maintenance and care, centipede grass can be an excellent choice for your home’s landscaping needs!


What is wrong with my centipede grass?

There are a number of common problems that may be wrong with your centipede grass. Some of the most common issues include damage from insects such as chinch bugs, brown patch and gray leaf spot, lack of nutrients, improper irrigation, too much shade, compaction caused by foot traffic or other activities, and excessive thatch build-up.

What is wrong with my centipede grass?

How do I know if my centipede grass has insect damage?

Insect damage can manifest in several ways. If you notice any yellowing or discoloration patches in your lawn, this could indicate an infestation. You can also look for small white spots on the blades of grass which could indicate chinch bug activity. Additionally, you may see short, thin tracks on the grass blades which could indicate that grubs or other insects are burrowing in the soil near your lawn.

Can I use chemical pesticides to control insect damage to my centipede grass?

It is generally best to avoid using chemical pesticides if possible. Instead, you can try introducing beneficial insects such as nematodes and spiders into your lawn, which can help reduce insect populations naturally. Additionally, proper fertilization and irrigation can ensure that your grass has the right amount of nutrients it needs to stay healthy and resilient against pests.

What should I do if my centipede grass is not getting enough sunlight?

If your centipede grass is not receiving enough direct sunlight, you may need to trim back any nearby trees or shrubs that are blocking the sunlight. Additionally, you can also consider overseeding your lawn with a shade-tolerant grass variety such as zoysia or tall fescue, which may better suit your particular environment.

What is the best way to control thatch build-up?

Thatch is a layer of organic material made up of dead turfgrass shoots, stems and roots that accumulates over time between the soil surface and green vegetation. To control thatch build-up in centipede grass, it is important to regularly dethatch the lawn using a rake or mechanical dethatcher. Additionally, proper mowing techniques such as avoiding mowing too low and leaving clippings on the lawn can help manage thatch levels.

What is the best way to water centipede grass?

When watering centipede grass, it is important to use a light, frequent approach. Aim for about 1 inch of water per week and avoid overwatering or underwatering your lawn. It is also recommended to water in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler, which will help reduce evaporation and ensure that the moisture reaches deeper down into the soil.

Ultimately, proper maintenance practices such as fertilization, irrigation, mowing, dethatching and pest control are essential for keeping centipede grass healthy and problem-free.

Why is my centipede grass dying in circles?

Centipede grass can sometimes die in circles, or patches, due to the presence of certain pests and diseases. Common culprits include grubs, chinch bugs, fungi such as Take-all Patch and Fairy Ring, and even nutrient deficiencies. If your centipede grass is exhibiting this behavior, it’s important to identify the cause so you can treat it appropriately.

What chemical kills centipede grass?

One type of chemical that can be used to kill centipede grass is a weed killer containing the active ingredient halosulfuron-methyl. This should be applied in late spring or early summer, when the turfgrass is actively growing. Make sure to follow all instructions on the product label and apply it evenly across the lawn without overlapping areas. It may take several weeks for this treatment to become effective, but it should eventually control any existing weeds in the centipede grass. Additionally, make sure not to mow for at least three days before and after using this weed killer as mowing can reduce its effectiveness.

How do you lower the pH in centipede grass?

Lowering the pH in centipede grass can be done by applying products such as elemental sulfur or aluminum sulfate. This should be done several times throughout the growing season, depending on how low you want to lower the pH. Applying these soil amendments to centipede grass can take some time before any noticeable changes are seen, so patience is key. Additionally, make sure not to apply too much of either product at once since this can cause adverse effects to the turfgrass. It’s also important to test your soil regularly in order to monitor its acidity levels and adjust your application accordingly.

Useful Video: Fertilizer that is GREAT for Centipede Grass!! (& all grass types)


In conclusion, common centipede grass problems can be difficult to identify and manage. While some pests or diseases may require chemical applications, others can be treated with cultural practices such as mowing, fertilization, and water management. Understanding the special needs of this turfgrass will help you maintain a healthy lawn for years to come. With proper care and maintenance, centipede grass can provide a lush green landscape that’s both attractive and durable.

If you suspect your centipede grass is suffering from one of the above mentioned issues don’t hesitate to contact your local extension office or certified agronomist for more specific advice on how to best address your lawn’s problem. Catching any issue early can significantly reduce the amount


  1. https://www.starnewsonline.com/story/news/2014/05/15/repairing-centipede-lawns-damaged-by/34325305007/
  2. https://www.lawnandpetal.com/diagnosing-centipede-grass-problems/
  3. https://www.spring-green.com/blog-remove-centipede-grass-tall-fescue-lawn/
  4. https://homeguides.sfgate.com/centipede-grass-diseases-cures-74751.html
  5. https://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2022/04/centipede-lawn-problems-2/
  6. https://gardeniaorganic.com/centipede-grass-problems/
  7. https://lawnlove.com/blog/most-common-centipedegrass-pests/