As you probably already know, there are several kinds of turfgrass that can do well across the Florida panhandle and throughout the greater Pensacola area. These include:
- St. Augustine
Each of these varieties has pros and cons to consider, and each can either succeed or fail in the Pensacola soil depending on the conditions where it’s planted and how it’s cared for. Today, though, we’re going to focus on centipede grass.
In all honesty, it’s not our favorite variety and not one we often recommend to customers who are looking to re-sod or plant fresh on newly developed land. However, there are certain situations in which Northwest Florida homeowners and commercial facility managers have found it to be the best option for them.
What makes centipede grass an option to consider?
The following traits make centipede grass a great option for homeowners and commercial property managers in and around Pensacola:
- Low-maintenance: Because of its other positive traits, centipede grass tends to be low-maintenance, which can be beneficial for busy homeowners who don’t have the time or desire to properly care for a touchier lawn. It also grows relatively slow, meaning less overall mowings over the course of the growing season, and requires less fertilizer than some varieties, meaning less time and expense.
- Tough: Centipede grass has rough texture and tends to be very tough and durable under changing weather conditions.
- Tolerant to acidic soil: This variety is also more tolerant than most to overly-acidic soil, so if your lawn needs to be planted in soil with a pH of less than 7, centipede grass is a great choice.
- Tolerant to drought: Unlike some other grass types, centipede grass simply goes temporarily dormant (turning brown and stiff) when water is scarce, perking right back up when it gets water again.
- Weed- and pest-resistant: Because of its rough texture, centipede grass is more resistant than some varieties to pests that damage turfgrass by biting, chewing, or sucking on the stalks and blades. Because it grows in a thick carpet with entwined roots, it also does well resisting weeds.
In all these cases, these are tendencies and general strengths, not guaranteed traits. For example, if your soil is extremely acidic, even centipede grass won’t be able to survive or thrive, so you’ll need to treat the soil to bring the pH up. Similarly, there are still pests that can cause problems for centipede grass because they attack in different ways that a tough exterior won’t prevent. Mole crickets can be a particular problem.
What may make centipede grass a bad choice?
Of course, centipede grass isn’t perfect. There are some traits of this hearty variety that may make a different option preferable:
- Prone to iron chlorosis: This discoloring is actually not harmful to the grass, but it looks like it is to the untrained eye, as it’s not the healthy-looking green most homeowners expect and prefer. Centipede grass is prone to this condition because it’s often over-fertilized. Once iron chlorosis sets in, the only treatment option is replacing the grass.
- Not salt-tolerant: A good portion of the lawns in our area are close enough to the Gulf of Mexico to sport salty soil. Some grass varieties fare better under these conditions (St. Augustine and Bermuda are examples), but centipede grass is not one of them.
- Not tolerant to shade: Although we have no shortage of sunshine here in The Sunshine State, your lawn may have a number of trees or be more shaded than average. In that case, centipedegrass has the worst chance of success of all the most common varieties.
- Centipede Grass Decline: This is a common fungal disease that’s unique to this variety of turfgrass. The best way to avoid Centipede Decline is to keep your lawn in excellent condition through proper cultural practices. For help clearing up these dead patches once they appear, contact Lawn Master and we’ll take a look.
- Doesn’t do well with heavy foot traffic: Despite being tough and hearty, foot traffic is one weakness that can harm centipede grass quickly. For that reason, homes with kids, pets, or a lot of foot traffic for other reasons, may be better off with a variety that handles it better, such as Zoysia or Bermuda.
As always, it’s best to work with professionals if you’re not 100% sure how to choose the best grass for your unique circumstances, or how to properly care for the turf grass you already have. Contact Lawn Master with any questions, or download our seasonal lawn care guide, made specifically for the Northwestern Florida panhandle.