Centipede – Disease

Centipedegrass lawns can withstand diseases if they are properly cared for. This includes fertilizing properly, mowing at the right height and watering when needed. It is better to control diseases by proper maintenance than by using fungicides.

There are three common diseases of centipede lawns:

BROWN PATCH is most prevalent on centipede which has been heavily fertilized when night temperatures are above 68 degrees and day temperatures are above 80 degrees. Dead patches of grass may start small but will grow and join together to make patches more than 3 feet apart. Sometimes, there will be a ring of brown, dead grass surrounding a patch of green grass. To control brown patch, fertilize centipedegrass moderately in summer and if you irrigate, do it in very early morning. There are lawn fungicides available to control brown patch. Read the label carefully and use the rate and timing that is indicated.

HELMINTHOSPORIUM is a disease that is hard to pronounce but easy to find on centipedegrass lawns. The lawn looks thin and brown and grass runners don’t seem to cover the bare spots very fast. This disease is most common in spring and fall. Apply 6 pounds of 15-0-15 fertilizer per 1000 square feet of lawn in late April and again in July. This will usually control the disease without fungicides.

SPRING DIE-BACK is not a disease but it can cause symptoms that mimic disease. Large patches of dead centipedegrass in April show that the condition has taken its toll. Die-back is caused by a succession of warm and cold periods in February and March. The centipedegrass exhausts itself trying to green-up, and may die by the time warm weather comes to stay. To prevent die-back, avoid fertilizing centipedegrass after September each year. Also, do not fertilize in spring until you are sure that the centipedegrass has greened-up completely. When dead patches are seen in spring, try to transplant plugs of healthy grass from other areas into the dead areas. You may need to purchase some centipedegrass sod to have enough plugs. With a little water and fertilizer, the new plugs will gradually cover the bare spots.


There are other causes of damage to turfgrass which are sometimes mistaken for true turfgrass disease. It is important to distinguish between turfgrass disease and these other common causes of turfgrass death.

One common problem is damage from late spring frost. Often times algae is diagnosed as a disease when in fact it is a primitive, little plant. Watch for insect injury on lawns. This is often times diagnosed as a disease. Watch for fertilizer burn. Concentrated and organic fertilizers, if applied too heavily, can burn the grass and resemble a disease.

Make sure that the chemicals you use for insect, weed and disease control do not burn the lawn. This is called pesticide injury. Dog urine injury is often mistaken for disease damage. Finally, watch for compacted soil. Compacted soils will thin the turfgrass much like the disease will. Check to see how badly the soil is compacted.

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