Centipede Grass vs. St Augustine (Difference + Which to Choose)

When looking for a warm climate turf, you must have come across centipede and St Augustine grass, and you may be wondering which one to pick. Both types of grass are low-growing, have almost similar blade shapes, and have shallow roots. However, they differ in color appearance, spreading rate, and shade tolerance.

Below is a summary of the main differences between Centipede grass and St Augustine grass.

Centipede GrassSt Augustine Grass          
A medium textured grass with light green blades.A coarse-textured grass with dark green blades.
It spreads slowly and takes longer to form a dense turf.Spreads aggressively, forming a dense turf.
The turf thrives in full sun and has less tolerance to shadeIt needs at least 4 hours of sun to thrive and has a high tolerance to shade
Has a poor recovery from wear and tear or other damages.Has a high recovery rate from damages.
Has poor tolerance for foot traffic It can tolerate moderate foot traffic.
It has low maintenance requirements as it doesn’t need regular fertilizing or mowing.It has high maintenance requirements that include fertilizing and mowing
It can be planted from seeds, plugs, or sodCan only be planted through plugs or sod

Centipede Grass vs. St Augustine – Difference

The following are key differences between Centipede grass and St Augustine grass:

1. Turf Identification

Centipede Grass

Centipede Grass is a low, slow-growing, but aggressive warm-season grass that can produce a dense, attractive, weed-free turf. It is medium textured with light green blades and a brief upright seedhead. Centipede grass spreads through stolons to form a thick turf that deters weeds.

However, it is slow growing and will take almost two years to establish a dense turf. The grass requires minimal maintenance in mowing and fertilizing. Centipede grass thrives in a little acidic sandy soil and has very little pest problem when adequately managed. Its peak growing season is from spring to fall but goes dormant in winter.

St Augustine

St Augustine is a coarse-textured warm-season grass with folded dark green leaves. The blades are broad and flat. Like St Augustine, the grass spreads through stolons forming a lush turf.

The grass can be established through plug or sod and grow in various soil types with a pH of 5.0- 8.5. However, the soil should be rich and well-draining. The grass has a high tolerance for soil salinity, making it a top choice for lawns on the south coast

2. Appearance

The most apparent difference between centipedes and St Augustine is their color. Centipede grass has a light green color and coarse blades. Some lawn owners try to overwater and over-fertilize to achieve a darker shade, but that only hurts the lawn.

On the other hand, St Augustine is dark green with coarse blades.

3. Maintenance required

Centipede grass is a slow-growing grass with minimal need for mowing. It loves relatively low-quality soil, meaning it does not need regular fertilization. Its slow growth also limits its need for dethatching and aeration. Centipede grass forms a dense turf that deters weeds, so you rarely have to use herbicides.

St Augustine spreads aggressively through stolons forming a dense turf that requires regular mowing, especially during the growing season. It loves rich sandy soil and needs to be regularly fertilized to achieve a lush lawn.

A centipede lawn is ideal if you are looking for beautiful turf with minimal maintenance.

4. Shade tolerance

Centipede is a sun-loving grass that will thrive best under full sun but can tolerate moderate shade. However, too much shade will cause the grass to thin or die.

St Augustine can tolerate more shade than Centipede. But it also requires at least 4 hours of full sun daily; otherwise, it will thin and have a light color. Dwarf St Augustine cultivar has the highest shade tolerance.

5. Durability

Centipede grass is shallow-rooted, with medium drought tolerance, and cannot handle much traffic. Its slow growth also limits its ability to repair when damaged, as it will take longer.

Damages caused by diseases, pets, or insects will also take time to repair. Centipede grass is not an ideal lawn for high-traffic areas or lawns with pets.

St Augustine also has medium drought tolerance and low wear tolerance. It is also not a good choice for a high-traffic lawn.

6. Soil preference and pH

Centipede grass prefers infertile acidic soil with a pH of 4.5- 6. It cannot grow in alkaline soil as when the pH goes high, its color and quality will deteriorate due to iron deficiency.

St Augustine loves rich, well-draining soil with a pH of 5.0- 8.5. The grass does not grow or spread well in waterlogged or compacted clay soil but will still grow in a little acidic soil. You should avoid overwatering and aerate the lawn twice a year.

Also Check: How to make centipede grass spread

Which is better, Centipede grass or St Augustine?

To make a wise selection between the two turfs, look at their advantages and disadvantages:

Pros of centipede grass

  1. Easy to maintain – centipede lawn is not invasive as it takes time to establish, so it does not require frequent mowing. The grass also thrives in poor soil, so it does not need to be fertilized frequently.
  2. It grows into a thick turf that impedes the growth of weeds.
  3. It has moderate cold tolerance compared to other warm-weather grasses.
  4. It has high heat tolerance.
  5. It can be planted from seeds, plugs, or sod.

Cons of centipede grass

  1. It has shallow roots limiting its drought tolerance. It should be watered with 1 inch of water weekly.
  2. It is susceptible to diseases when left in standing water or muddy soil. It prefers well-draining sandy soil.
  3. Poor traffic tolerance is not ideal for a lawn with high foot traffic.
  4. Medium shade tolerance should not be planted on a lawn with trees.
  5. Poor wear recovery.
  6. Has a slow growth rate.

Pros of St Augustine

  1. It can tolerate shade better than other warm-season grasses. However, it needs at least 4 hours of full sun daily.
  2. Has a high recovery rate.
  3. It can tolerate moderate traffic.
  4. It can grow in various soils and a wide range of PH.
  5. Has moderate drought tolerance.
  6. It grows into a dense turf that chokes weed.
  7. It has moderate cold tolerance – it can tolerate the cold more than centipede grass but not as much as other cool weather grasses.
  8. It has high salt tolerance making it a preferred coastal lawn.

Cons of St Augustine grass

  1. It is unsuitable for high-traffic lawns because it has moderate wear tolerance.
  2. It is susceptible to pests and diseases such as clinch bugs.
  3. It can only be planted through plugs or sod.
  4. It is susceptible to the common herbicide.
  5. Requires high maintenance of regular fertilization and mowing.

Can you mix centipede and St Augustine?

Yes, you can mix centipede and St Augustine to improve the appearance of your lawn. Both types of grass thrive in full sun, but St Augustine can tolerate more shade than the centipede grass. If your lawn has trees, but the grass can still receive at least 4 hours of sun a day, you can plant St Augustine on the shaded parts and centipede on the rest of the lawn.

However, St Augustine does not have a seeds option, so you will have to use sod to fill bare patches on the centipede lawn. Centipede and St Augustine can thrive in acidic soil, so you must find a balance. A pH of 6.0- 6.5 is ideal.

Also check: When and How to Plant St. Augustine Grass Plugs

Final Thought

Both centipede and St Augustine grass are low-growing, shallow-rooted with almost similar blade shapes. However, they differ in color, care required, and shade tolerance.

Centipede requires minimal maintenance but has medium shade tolerance.  On the other hand, St Augustine can tolerate more shade but is susceptible to diseases and pests and sensitive to common herbicides.

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