Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

When and How to Fertilize Centipede Grass


When is the proper time to apply fertilizer to centipede grass? Should I use a weed and feed product?” – Bill

Centipede grass is a warm-season turf grass, which means its growing season begins in late spring and lasts through the summer, then it goes mostly dormant or brown for the winter. The beginning of the growing season is called “green up,” as the grasses once again send up bright green blades and the lawn starts actively growing.

Although usually occurring in April, the exact timing of the spring green up depends on the temperatures in your particular microclimate. During the green up period, the new growth in your lawn is very tender and can be harmed by the broadleaf herbicides in weed and feed products. In addition, feeding too early can cause growth that may be damaged by late cold snaps.

The ideal time to apply fertilizer, or weed and feed products, to centipede grass is a few weeks after green up, but before temperatures start topping 85° F. That’s usually around mid-May, but let your lawn be your guide. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Centipede grass doesn’t respond well to high doses of fertilizer. Too much nitrogen will cause a flush of growth susceptible to disease, and phosphorus will deplete iron levels. Use a phosphorus-free fertilizer such as 15-0-15, with only about 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet.
  • If time constraints require you to treat your lawn earlier than recommended, use fertilizer only rather than a weed and feed product.
  • Never apply fertilizer until after all danger of frost has passed.
  • General-purpose weed and feed products can be deadly to this type of lawn. Make sure you purchase a product specifically designed and labeled for centipede grass.
  • Weed and feed is difficult with centipede grass, because the grass does better with a late application, but weeds are more affected by an earlier application – giving a narrow window of time for good results.

For more information on fertilizer, check out our Fertilizer 101 article.


Please Leave a Comment

19 Comments on “When and How to Fertilize Centipede Grass”

You can follow comments to this article by subscribing to the RSS news feed with your favorite feed reader.

  1. Linda Brantley Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I have about 33000 feet out oa 1 acre to fertilize cenepede grass in my yard. How much 15-0-15 do I need to buy?

  2. Neil Says:
    March 20th, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    My backyard is centipede in its sixth year of establishment. There are a few pesky intruders on my lawn in spots and I want them gone. But I also want to feed my lawn too. The problem is we have experienced a very early spring in the south. I live on the west side of Atlanta and temps have been in the high 70’s to low 80’s the last week and it looks to stay that way. Im not seeing the new growth yet either. I really don’t want to burn my lawn up either. What do you suggest I do? Also, should I plan to apply before it rains or after? Please advise. We love our backyard and so many people have complimented us on it. We sure don’t want to mess it up.
    Thanks for your help!

  3. Linda Brantley Says:
    March 23rd, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I put 15-0-15 on my yard March 8, 2012. I used 175 lbs. on 3/4 acrea.
    I have a few yellow spots. What could be the problem?

  4. John P Says:
    April 4th, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    I have a centipede lawn and have tried to find 15-0-15 fertilizer (which you recommend). I live in Gwinnett County, GA, and have tried Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Family Tree Garden Center in Snellville, GA, and none carry it. Any suggestions? I am a bit desperate. Thanks!

  5. Barbara Tolleson Says:
    April 14th, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Can I use 24-8-16 on centipede grass. I have a mixture of St. Augustine and Centipede infront yard more centipede than St,Augustine. Just wondered Thanks in advance.

  6. Mancel Townsend. Says:
    April 17th, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    My yard has been sodded with centipede grass and some weeds have started growing , what can I spray to kill the weeds but not harm the grass

  7. Brian Says:
    May 20th, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Any fertilizer with no phosphorus will work. Ex. 10-0-10, 15-0-15, 18-0-18. Just be certain it has iron for centipede. As for yellow spots in the yard simply go back and hand throw a small amount of fertilizer in those areas.

  8. Brian Says:
    May 20th, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Take my word for this also. Centipede does not like phosphorus. Make sure the middle number on your fertilizer is 0.

  9. Neil Says:
    May 21st, 2012 at 11:36 am

    The temperatures are getting hotter and my yard is getting greener! We still have a few weeds, but I’ve been pulling them up by hand. Now, we’re trying to establish a centieped lawn in the front yard since we had it graded and redesigned. Dealing with a lack of rain and very warm temps.
    Thanks for all the help!

  10. Rich Yonker Says:
    February 13th, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    I live in carolina Shores N C It is nearing spring.
    When may I apply lime granules to my centepede grass?

  11. willie bartley Says:
    July 8th, 2014 at 12:24 am

    my centipede lawn look yellow and green please help me

  12. Toney Edwards Says:
    September 19th, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    I live in Fayetteville, NC. I have nice green centipede in my front yard. My front lawn is mostly sunny. However, I have some shade in my back yard and I have tried seeding and sodding. What is my problem? Also, can can I apply fertilizer to centipede in September or October,?

  13. frank humphreys Says:
    November 18th, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    I have a mature centipede lawn, but I have several problems, more pronounced this last year:
    1) fungus (area turns black and dies);
    2) thinning lawn;
    3) seeded bare spots, but nothing grew; did it twice.
    Atlanta, GA

  14. Donald Says:
    November 22nd, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I live in near Myrtle Beach, SC. I have centipede grass and other grass. What I would like to know is what time of year to start a program, using pre-emergence, and how often to treat the lawn. We had a devastating winter and it destroyed much of my lawn. I used a lawn care service last yeas, 14, and it is just to expensive. Are there any products you would recommend?

  15. Frank Miller Says:
    March 4th, 2015 at 9:09 am

    I live in Murrells Inlet SC and have centipede grass. The grass is still brown as it March 4th. I don’t see many weeds yet the lawn is one year old. I seen a lot of lawn care companies out spreading fertilizer and even spraying lawns. I brought some Scott’s bonus s fertilizer weed and feed fertilizer 32-0-9 is this ok to use? And when should I apply the correct fertilizer?

    March 5th, 2015 at 7:23 am


  17. Manny Capicotto Says:
    March 16th, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    I live in Summerville, SC. There are large areas of my centipede lawn that has been taken over by another type of grass. It is very green and thick. This started in early March and my centipede grass is still dormant. I don’t know where this other grass came from but it’s along the fences and in a large area in the back yard. It’s seems the centipede grass in totally gone in these areas. Thanks for any advise you can give!

  18. Ron Hruz Says:
    March 21st, 2015 at 9:51 am

    I have the same question as Frank Miller from March 4th of 2015. Can I use the 32-0-9 on my lawn now to take care of early weeds without harm to my lawn or wasting the weed n feed? I am only asking, because it is being sold as the proper thing to do for centipede grass by Lowes salesperson, other people I talk to have told me to use 17-17-17.
    Thank You,

  19. Mark A. Tamn Says:
    March 23rd, 2015 at 8:12 am

    Centipede is a very unique turf type. Requires low nitrogen (1-1.5 lbs /thousand sq. ft. per growing season ). Poor nitrogen management will surely enhance the decline of a Centipede lawn. If your looking for a thick, lush darker green lawn, I suggest you invest in Zoysia or Bermuda grass. I saw many comments regarding yellowing. This is iron chlorosis which could be due to a higher than acceptable soil pH range for Centipede (5.0-6.0 is ideal), applying too much nitrogen in spring, fertilizing too early in spring, irrigating too early in the spring, or all the above.

We want to hear from you! In addition to posting comments on articles and videos, you can also send your comments and questions to us on our contact page or at (800) 946-4420. While we can't answer them all, we may use your question on our Today's Homeowner radio or TV show, or online at todayshomeowner.com.

Click to check out all our great giveaways!