09 May 2007

Centipede Grass Green Up--Spring 2007

Some of you in Georgia, particularly the Atlanta area, may have experienced, or still be experiencing problems with centipede grass lawns greening up this season

Clint Waltz with the University of Georgia has this to say:

"This is common for centipedegrass during the spring transition – from dormancy
to active growth. As the root system develops, centipedegrass color will
fluctuate with soil and air temperatures. With the recent cooler temperatures
this is not abnormal. Neither nitrogen fertilization, nor iron applications,
will appreciably encourage green-up or growth. Waiting on conducive
environmental conditions is the best practice. In most cases this problem will
solve itself by the end of May."

Centipede is a somewhat persnickety grass. Once it begins to decline, in my experience, it does not recover. In Mr. Waltz's words, "(centipede) Lawns that have been mismanaged for several years may experience turfgrass loss, typically evident by gray stolons with no green buds. If this is the case, re-establishment may be necessary."

Fertilization will not speed the green up process. Centipede wants between 1 and 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet over the growing season. This should be broken out into several applications over the growing season. Additionally, mowing heights should be between 1.5 and 2 inches. If lawns have been maintained higher than this, mowing heights should be gradually reduced to this desired heights.

Many gardeners, particularly many old-school types, prefer centipede grass because of its relatively low-maintenance requirements, versus its more aesthetic cousins. However, as with all gardens and landscapes, low-maintenance does not mean no-maintenance. The only no-maintenance garden is no garden.

A.J., Proudland Landscape, LLC © 2007

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