Thomas J. Koske | 4/22/2005 12:18:15 AM
Centipedegrass (Eremochloa ophiuroides) has become the most popular grass type in Louisiana. It is the major grass produced on Louisiana sod farms, according to LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Tom Koske.
The grass came to the United States from Southeast Asia in the early 20th century. It is called the "lazy man’s grass" because it thrives with less care and requires less mowing than other varieties. This grass is adapted to infertile soils, and over-fertilization can lead to excessive growth and Centipede Decline Syndrome.
This grass has a medium height and medium texture with apple-green foliage; it is not dark green. The established sod has fair to good shade tolerance. Its thin root system appreciates adequate moisture and as a drought-avoidance feature, it stops growing when dry and then may go dormant brown.
Centipede produces only surface-running stolon stems and is easily controlled around landscape features or with the herbicides fluazifop, glyphosate and others. It is, however, very tolerant to the grass killer sethoxydim.
"Many turf pests don’t bother centipede, but it is susceptible to nematodes, ground pearls and brown patch disease," Koske says, adding, "It is easily damaged by pet urine and will not tolerate much salinity, poor quality irrigation water or traffic." When bruised or stressed, centipede leaf blades may turn a reddish brown.
The horticulturist says the best way to avoid problems is to avoid over-fertilization by applying less than 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. per season. Irrigate at first sign of drought and mow at 1 1/2-inch height of cut.
Centipedegrass is established by seed, plugs or sod. The tiny seeds are very delicate and require a well-developed seed bed and much irrigation. Expect 1 1/2 years from seeding for establishment on a sunny lawn site.
For information on related topics, look for Gardening and Get It Growing links in the Feature section of the LSU AgCenter Web site: www.lsuagcenter.com. Additional yard and garden topics are available from an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.