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When and How to Fertilize Centipede Grass

By: Julie Day

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.




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

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  • Reuben Says:
    June 11th, 2018 at 11:34 am

    I have a centipede grass at my backyard. I resort to plugs because the soil at the back and sides of my house is a mixture of clay and sand. I started works on Centepede plugs because there is high chances of far im satisfied with the results. It take two years to develop, the key when planting Centepede grass is PATIENCE.

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    May 11th, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    Hi, Rando!
    We provide questions to Danny Lipford, America’s leading home improvement expert, on a weekly basis. We’re not able to answer every question due to the high volume of mail we receive and Danny’s busy schedule, but we sure do our best.
    We encourage the community to help each other when they can. One fan may have the answer to another fan’s question, and we think that’s awesome. 🙂
    Thanks for visiting

  • Rando Says:
    May 5th, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    Has no one figured out yet that this is no a place to ask questions?
    You’re wasting your time….
    Nobody answers, this is just for comments only.

  • Donald Watkins Says:
    April 20th, 2018 at 1:34 am

    I have a centipede lawn and have worked hard down on my knees , should have been praying , pulling up dandelions by the wheelbarrow loads 3 years ago. . 2 years ago it seemed a little worse so I spot sprayed with roundup. Last year it looked really bad from the roundup I used. This year it’s worse than it’s ever been. I don’t seem to have a lawn of centipede, I have a lawn of dandelions with some centipede. I think it would be better to kill the centipede and just have a lawn of dandelions. I have used this year SCOTTS TURF BUILDER HALT CRAB GRASS . That was 2 weeks ago and it doesn’t seem to have done any good. I’ve had black birds by the thousands in my year. When I see them I try my best to make some noises to get rid of them. I thought about burning the yard and see if that would help but just read not to do that. What are my choices, burn the centipede and start with spreading Bermuda grass? Or try something else and keep the centipede? Any hope here?

  • Janice Ludwig Says:
    April 6th, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    I liked the info on centipede grass. But more than that, thank you for not having the page covered with ad’s…

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    March 20th, 2018 at 10:39 am

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Alvin!

  • Alvin Says:
    March 17th, 2018 at 8:12 am

    I have had centipede grass for 30 years. In upstate SC, I use Milorganite when the grass is about 80-90% green in Spring, late Spring and June and GrubEx as a preventive in late June. The crop stays health, no grubs or having to deal with winter kill from using high nitrogen fertilizers. You can also thatch the yard when full green. I bag until fully green. If you want your grass a little dark green in July, throw a little ironite on it and water in.

  • Anthony Olio Says:
    February 25th, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Tuffest1 gave the best info on centipede grass, thank you that sure helps me out

  • Official Comment:

    thomas Says:
    February 26th, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Hi, Anthony
    Here’s more information about pre-emergent:
    Give it a read and let’s see if that helps.
    Thanks for your question!

  • Anthony Olio Says:
    February 25th, 2018 at 11:32 am, wow a lot of info about centipede grass, but nothing about when you should start your first application of pre~emergent as well as your first application of fertilizer ??
    And what about lawn crickets. Pretty common thing in the south isn’t it. Does grub control kill those as well??

  • Miss Green Thumb Says:
    February 8th, 2018 at 6:59 am

    I figured out how to care for our centipede lawn in Murrells Inlet, SC. March 1 – apply pre-emergent for weeds. Two weeks after it starts to green up, apply Scotts Max Green. Water generously 3-4 times a week in early morning only. Pull any weeds that pop up. Late July/early August apply Max Green again – not later. Pre-emergent goes down again in late November/early December. That’s it. I don’t add any other fertilizer. Just keep it watered AND cut it twice a week, varying the pattern (vertical, horizontal, roadways) and don’t bag clippings – let them mulch back into grass. If you see some dry spots, hand water. Patience and consistency should give you a beautiful, lush lawn. Took us two seasons.

  • Don McManamy Says:
    June 4th, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Dear Sir,
    I live in Conway, Sc. I have a centipede lawn, used weed and feed (sparingly), this spring, used fungus killer and fertilizer, 15-0-15. Yet, I still have weeds, mushrooms and it is now June. What more can I do to rid the weeds and get a healthy lawn? Many areas that the grass has died out.

  • Don Lamson Says:
    May 13th, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    I live in Easley, SC. After having the yard sodded with centipede – I used the maintenance schedule as outlined by Clemson University as well as the recommendations of a landscapers supply business to treat my lawn. Over the past five years – my lawn has degraded to such a poor state (fungus, holes, weeds) it looks as if it could almost use a complete remove and replace in order to restore it to it’s original condition. Phone calls and soil samples have not benefited. The more I work with the lawn it more frustrated I become. Among the concerns I have is a concern regarding the correct amount of 15-0-15 to apply. Based on the latest soil test – I was told to apply 2lb. nitrogen/ 1000 sq. ft. Upon questioning the experts – I was told this would be accomplished by applying 2lb. of 15-0-15/ 1000 sq. ft. This is somewhat confusing because – in the literal sense – 2lb.s of nitrogen is not the same as 2lb.s of 15-0-15. In fact – one has to determine how much nitrogen there is in 1lb. of a 50 pound bag of 15-0-15 covering 15,000 sq.ft. (50 lbs. × (15 ⁄ 100) = 7.5 lb.s (total nitrogen) in the bag. Then divide the total pounds of nitrogen (7.5lb.s) into the recommended square footage (15,000 sq.ft.) the bag will cover in order to get the correct pounds of nitrogen per pound/per 1,000 sq.ft. of 15-0-15 – which equals 0.5 lbs. In this calculation, I would need four (4) bags of 15-0-15 to cover 15,000 sq. ft. – giving me the recommended amount of 2 lb.s nitrogen / 1,000 sq.ft. However, if I were to follow the professionals advice of applying 2 lb.s of 15-0-15 for 15,000 sq.ft. – I would actually apply only 30 pounds of 15-0-15 containing a total of 4.5 lb.s nitrogen – and therefore a total amount of nitrogen/per 1,000 sq.ft. of 0.3 lb.s. I said all that to say this – please tell me what is the correct application. This isn’t my only question but at this point I’m wondering if I have been fertilizing correctly.

  • Quentin Fornville Says:
    April 22nd, 2017 at 3:06 am

    I moved into a new construction home last Nov(16), and the builder applied NEW centipede sod as my lawn. There was a minor drought during that time we moved. We did a great job keeping the sod watered during those times. Anyway I’m aware the green season has started. A couple of weeks ago I applied fertilizer for the first time. I’ve already noticed the beautiful green is appearing.
    In one particular area, there’s a long 20-25ft strip that’s still brown and growing very slow. My question is because the sod is only 6mths applied should I panic, or how to treat that particular area? Or do I need to be patient and give time for everything to develop?
    Thank you
    Winterville NC

  • Lynn Clayton Says:
    April 7th, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    I have centepe grass and Phillips garden center in Tupelo, MS told me to use 15-0-15 fertilizer and use a pre-emergent weed killer every 90 days to prevent weeds. I started using the right fertilizer two years ago and yard looks good. I just started the pre-emergent in march.

  • robert hodges Says:
    April 2nd, 2017 at 4:18 pm


  • Spike white Says:
    March 31st, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    General comment about centipede grass….(live in Murrells Inlet SC) as most yards in this area are small, I find a little fertilizer is sufficient. I have a quarter acrea with a house/flower beds an probably use roughly 5 pounds of 15-0-15 after my grass is about 75% greened up. For weeds I only use Bayer Celsius WG. It is a post emergent so will only kill weeds after they are up. Does great and will not harm your centipede. Spray on days when temp is 85 or below early-mid morning. Little goes a long way…..teaspoon per gal. Expensive though! Even gets dollar weed! Ironite 2/3 times a year early/late summer for yellowing.

  • Nathan L Says:
    March 26th, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    I live in Summerville SC.temps have been about high 70s each day. Still possible chance of late frost. My centipede grass is a bit brown right now; when should I use Scotts weed and feed on lawn? Or should I not and Just use Scotts turf builder fertilizer. Thanks

  • Keith Edwards Says:
    March 10th, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    I live on the outskirts of Conway, SC where we get very little rain. My centipede grass has to depend on a layer of gumbo clay which is about 6 inches below the topsoil for moisture during the dry season. Which fertilizer is best for someone with those conditions?

  • Mike Hennon Says:
    March 6th, 2017 at 8:33 am

    I live in Summerville SC.temps have been about high 70s each day. Still possible chance of late frost. My centipede grass is pretty green right now (grass is about 1 yr old)when should I use Scotts weed and feed on lawn? Or should I not and Just use Scotts turf builder fertilizer. Thanks

  • James Allen Says:
    September 27th, 2016 at 11:10 am

    I live in Jackson, GA on a lake. I have mostly centipede grass on my lawn. Some areas we have Zosia. We have had a very hot summer. I fertilized in July and lime in August. Should I fertilize with a pre-emergent in the Fall? If so, what type No. should I be looking for? Or….should I wait to fertilize with a pre-emergent in the Spring?

  • Deb Stewart Says:
    September 7th, 2016 at 7:03 am

    When should I fertilize and kill weeds in the fall

  • Beth Herron Says:
    August 7th, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    Just got some more centipede sod. Rolled up for 3 days. Looks okay but yellowish. Can ironite be used on it to make the yellow come back greener or will it damage it?

  • Bobb Says:
    June 15th, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    I living in South Carolina Would you please tell me when and how to kill weeds won’t hurts my centipedes grass ?thank you!

  • Joyce Says:
    May 31st, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Does lawn need to be wet or dry when you apply 15-0-15 to your lawn?

  • Jennifer bell Says:
    May 21st, 2016 at 7:32 am

    We are in georgetown, sc. Our backyard sat under water in the fall for about four days during the flooding. Our centipede seems to be destroyed, mostly weeds have come up this year. We are assuming it’s from the flooding. Any thoughts? Any way to recover?

  • Donald Says:
    April 12th, 2016 at 9:32 am

    I just laid 500sg/Ft centipede sod. How soon can I fertilize it?

  • Rob Barker Says:
    April 9th, 2016 at 10:28 am

    I live in Eastern NC and its early April. We had several weeks that the temps were perfect (70-80 degree) days. I jumped the gun and put out 100 lbs of 16-4-8 on my centipede lawn. Just a few days ago a frost came in and knocked it back (sending it back dormant). Have I hurt my yard and what do I need to do?

  • Joshua Marquis Says:
    April 8th, 2016 at 6:30 am

    It’s April 8th in Cameron, NC and my centipede grass is still mostly brown. I have weeds everywhere and applied a weed and feed in March when the temperatures shot up to 80+ for over a week. We thought we had an early Spring and fertilized. Now it’s still brown.

    What do I do? We’ve never had problems with weed and feed before.

  • Lucy Says:
    April 4th, 2016 at 10:17 am

    I live in NC my lawn is centipede grass I have bare spots and lots of weeds. What can I do to kill the weeds and not hurt the grass? What would you recommend for the bear spots. By the way it’s centipede sod.

  • Opal Dillard Says:
    March 18th, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    It is the end of March in NW AL and my centipede lawn has lots of weeds. it did not have a pre emerge in the fall due to damage done the previous year from Bonus S by Scotts. We need to get rid of the weeds and I am sure it needs fertilize. I understand 15-0-15 is good but when should we fertilize and what should we do about the green weeds./ The lawn is greening up now.

  • Donald Says:
    January 29th, 2016 at 8:36 am

    I live in Conway, SC. When is the best time to apply “Pre-Emergence” to the lawn. The when should I apply fertilizer?

  • Dianne Lawlis Says:
    June 4th, 2015 at 9:07 am

    I was told by the contractor that seeded my already centipede lawn that I need to spread 25 bags of pelletized lime right away on the lawn. He graded a hillside in order to build a cement driveway. There is no grass there, only centipede seed, which I think has washed down hill due to a flood of water recently. I have the lime but I am reluctant to spread it. I just read your response to Beverly about centipede and lime. Please e-mail me concerning this. I live in Prattville, Alabama and my yard is sandy soil, and consist of about 3/4 acres. Thanks for your help in this mater.

  • Phillip Says:
    May 28th, 2015 at 10:38 am


    Lime will damage your centipede grass. You should try to flush it away somehow. Lime is good for Bermuda grass, but bad for Centipede grass.

  • Beverly Says:
    May 26th, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    I had alot of thatch build up starting out this year. My fault for not raking the pine straw. Instead I had a neighbor to mow the entire lawn with her riding lawn mower to mulch up the pine straw since no one raked the pine straw during the winter. Now almost the entire yard is brown and sandy.

    I used lime few days before it rained but my centipede grass is the worst I have ever seen it. Help!

  • Rhonda White Says:
    May 20th, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    I had alot of thatch build up starting out this year. What is the best way to get rid of it and why does it occur?

    May 13th, 2015 at 1:01 am


  • Tuffest1 Says:
    April 5th, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    Ok, I can comment from experience. People, I second what Brian mentioned. Only use either 15-0-15, 10-0-10, or 18-0-18 for Centipede lawns. You will more than likely NOT find these in Lowe’s or Home Depot (tried them). The person that received the advice from a Lowe’s salesperson mentioning to use 17-17-17…totally WRONG!! They just want you to buy from there of course. You may have to visit an Ace Hardware, or some kind of country, farm store. There’s a SCIENCE to everything. Centipedegrass DOES NOT like phosphate (phosphorus) – – the middle number has to be ZERO ( X – 0 – X ). It does need a little bit of Nitrogen & Potassium. Note: Centipede lawns doesn’t take to well to large amounts of Nitrogen though – – so, heavy Compost users, don’t smother and kill your centipede lawn(s). On the other hand, if your area is known to be very sandy where you have to heavily water your lawns, you can fix that by dropping some bags of cheap $1.xx bags of topsoil from Lowe’s….you don’t have to buy Scott’s brand….it’s all the same, don’t be fooled – – get the cheap bags of topsoil….once again it’s all the same. Understand that Centipede forms its own spread of topsoil once it greens up along with a couple trims. Oh yeah….lastly, around the time your Centipede grass is trying to green up, do not put any kind of “Weed-B-Gone” or herbicide on the lawn while it is dormant. The best time to do that is right before Winter subsides. As I said previously, there’s a Science to taking care of your Centipede lawn. I hope this reassured everyone’s doubts.

  • Elsie Says:
    March 31st, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    I live in Murrells Inlet, SC. and I have centipede grass. I have had to replace my front lawn for two years. It is quite expensive! Now that spring is here it looks like I am getting a fungus again as well as bare spots and moles. What steps should I take to keep my lawn healthy.

  • 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.

  • 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,

  • 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!

    March 5th, 2015 at 7:23 am


  • 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?

  • 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?

  • 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

  • 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,?

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

    my centipede lawn look yellow and green please help me

  • 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?

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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?

  • 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!

  • 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?

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When and How to Fertilize Centipede Grass