Centipede Grass vs Zoysia – Which One is Better For Your Garden?

Choosing the right grass for your garden can be hard, especially with all the choices we have today!

We find ourselves getting lost in the world of grass, because really, who knows which grass is better than the next?

Well, I can help you!

If you’re looking for the best warm-season grass for your garden, and you come across Centipede grass and Zoysia, read on to find out which one is better!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you shop through the links on YardThyme, we may earn an affiliate's commission from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. For more information, read full disclosure here.

Key Differences Between Centipede Grass and Zoysia

Here are the main differences we see when comparing Centipede Grass vs. Zoysia:

  • Zoysia requires a higher water content despite having relatively deep roots, Centipede grass requires deep, but less frequent watering.
  • Whilst both warm-season types of grass, Centipede grass prefers regions with high rainfall and mild winters whereas Zoysia is a bit harder and prefers dry environments.
  • Zoysia is much more tolerant of high foot traffic than Centipede grass.

Centipede Grass

Centipede grass is native to China and South-East Asia but has been in the US since the early 1900’s.

Centipede, like Bermuda and St. Augustine, is a perennial warm-season grass, meaning that it thrives best in warmer climates whilst goes dormant in winter, returning each year during the warmer months. The highest growth period of this grass is seen in late spring to summer in which it spreads and reseeds itself rapidly.

This grass is of the more sensitive warm grasses as it struggles to survive in harsh winters so is more commonly used across the Southern Coastal Plains to the Texas Gulf Coast where the winters are mild, and the Centipede grass can stay green throughout.

Centipede Grass Closeup

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Centipede_Grass.JPG

Centipede grass is known to have a high level of heat tolerance; however, this is not to be confused with drought tolerance as this bad boy loves water! If you choose to have Centipede grass in your garden, be prepared for some deep and long waters as without it your grass may risk turning yellow.

Besides that, Centipede grass is great for many reasons, it makes a beautiful turf and is super low maintenance, so if this sounds good to you read on for more!

Pros of Centipede Grass

  • Low maintenance and nutrient requirements.
  • Moderate shade tolerance.
  • High heat tolerance.

Cons of Centipede Grass

  • Not cold tolerant.
  • You may experience iron chlorosis.
  • Sensitive to foot traffic.

Characteristics, Growing Conditions and Appearance

Centipede grows best in infertile and sandy soils with a pH of around 4.5 to 6.0 which is a lower range than many types of grass can tolerate. Whilst this range is great for those who have sandy soils, this does expose this grass to iron deficiencies and blade disease.

Solving this issue can be done through applications of iron supplement, but other than this, Centipede grass is still a super low maintenance turf.

A great aspect of Centipede grass is that it has the ability to maintain its greenness all year due to its tolerance to mild winters. This differs greatly from other grasses, like Zoysia, that endues true dormancy when winter occurs.

Quick tip: Because of this ability to maintain its health in winter, Centipede grass does not need overseeding with winter grasses such as Ryegrass to maintain its appearance.

Grasses such as Bermuda sometimes will be seeded in Autumn to revive the green color back into the lawn over the winter periods, however, this technique is actually damaging to Centipede grass as it creates a competition that weakens the root system.

Centipede is the slowest grower among the warm season grasses and spreads through low, creeping stolons. This behavior allows this grass to create a thick carpet of lawn that many homeowners desire, however, it is very susceptible to damage from foot traffic.

This grass has a light green shade with thick and coarse blades. The runners, or stolons, are what give Centipede grass the ability to spread and create a dense turf, but if left unattended, can and will grow over into garden beds and driveways.

Aggression and Invasiveness

Centipede grass is slow-growing and takes around 10 to 28 days to germinate, however, this does not mean it doesn’t have any aggressive or invasive tendencies!

As a garden lawn, Centipede grass can out-grow weeds giving you a perfectly even and green lawn, however, this aggression can be a hindrance when it grows into garden beds as it has the ability to choke out other plants.

Because this grass grows and spreads through stolons, the above-ground runners, it can be invasive. Where there is no boundary, Centipede grass will continue to spread outwards so if left alone it will grow and invade driveways and garden beds.

Planting and Caring for Centipede Grass

Lucky for you, if you choose Centipede grass, you’re in for a relatively easy ride!

Because of its ability to not only grow but thrive, in hot and sandy environments, fertilization can be done at a minimum – light application in spring and summer will prove to be beneficial as it can help in its highest growth period.

green centipede grass lawn closeup

On top of this, its slow-growing behavior means it only requires lawnmowing once a week at a height of 1.5” to 2” to avoid thatch problems.

Whilst Centipede is low maintenance, it still has certain requirements in order to maintain its health.

Infrequent but deep watering routines will give your Centipede grass the best chance at survival.

The warm-season nature of this grass gives it an extensive and deep root system; however, this doesn’t aid in water consumption as Centipede grass does need deep waters to prolong its healthy green color.

Moreover, as I said above, Centipede grass risks getting iron deficiencies, so when you notice yellowness, you can apply an iron supplement.

Price of Centipede Grass

Centipede grass is among the more expensive grass species on the market at a price of $0.75 to $0.85 per square foot and $340 to $385 per pallet.

Centipede grass can be expensive, however, can be cheaper based on the variant as many types of grass are modified to give us the best possible version, so be sure to look out for cheaper ones on the market!

Zoysia Grass

Zoysia grass is native to Asia but has been commonly found in the hotter climates of America since the late 1800’s when grass was becoming popularized by homeowners.

Quick tip: Zoysia grass is a warm-season perennial grass species and is best known for its heat and drought tolerance as well as heavy foot traffic tolerance.

This grass cowers for no one, as many challenges that other grasses face are not even challenges for Zoysia, it’s that hardcore!

In the right conditions, Zoysia produces a green and thick lawn that is easily maintained and cheap to care for. It requires very little attention in summer when it’s at its peak growing period as it can be left to the elements and be self-sustaining.

Zoysia grass

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Zoysia_Tenuifoli_foliage.JPG

Another added bonus feature that this lawn has is the ability to grow in the transition zones of America where the weather is neither hot nor cold and where many other, stricter, grass species fail to survive.

Zoysia’s heat and cold tolerance allow it to be popular among homeowners in these locations.

Pros of Zoysia Grass

  • Dense growth that is traffic tolerant.
  • Heat and drought resistant.
  • Low water and nutrient content.

Cons of Zoysia Grass

  • Requires more frequent mowing, however, the thicker the grass gets the harder it is to mow.
  • Can be really slow-growing, when grown through plugs it may take up to 3 years to cover your lawn.

Characteristics, Growing Conditions and Appearance

Zoysia is similar to St. Augustine in that it is a slow grower, however, Zoysia is known to be much slower, taking around three years for maximum spread once planted.

Despite this, Zoysia creates a thick and dense turf when fully grown as it spreads through above-ground runners called stolons and below-ground rhizomes. This combination makes this grass super strong and durable which aids in its health through many compromising environments.

Whilst active in late spring and summer, Zoysia is a light or medium green. However, in winter it goes into a survival mechanism in which dormancy sets in and the shade turns grey to brown. Zoysia has a higher tolerance to cooler temperatures and whilst it does go dormant it goes dormant much later than grasses such as Bermuda.

Quick tip: Due to the lack of tolerance in winter, many people tend to use Fescue grass as a substitute as some variants of the Fescue grass type can maintain their greenness all year around.

For a comparison read my article on Zoysia Grass vs Bermuda.

Zoysia grass grows really well in infertile soil and thrives where others fail. It can endure up to 40% shade which is a massive amount compared to other warm grasses such as Couch or Kikuyu which can only endure up to 10% shade – so for a warm-season grass, Zoysia does pretty well.

Aggression and Invasiveness of Zoysia Grass

Because Zoysia can tolerate shade and is also a super slow-growing grass, it is invasive, but not as invasive as grasses such as Bermuda.

Zoysia can spread independently when planted without much interference from you and whilst it takes a while to grow and spread, it won’t hesitate to grow into your garden beds and crowd out your pre-existing plants.

Proper lawn care, such as mowing at regular intervals, will be the best approach when aiming to combat invasive grass.

watering hose on green lawn

Planting and Caring for Zoysia Grass

Zoysia is best planted in spring where it can germinate and prepare for rapid growth in summer. If your lawn from the previous year is thin or damaged, overseeding at this time is important.

Maintenance-wise, Zoysia grass requires regular mowing and dethatching. This grass has a massive thatch risk, more so than other grasses, so aeration and dethatching should be done in spring and early summer to prepare the grass for a healthy growing season.

Mowing the lawn at a height of 1” to 1.5”, weekly, will also prevent future thatch problems as well as enhance the thickness of your lawn so that you don’t have any patchiness in areas.

Zoysia has deep roots due to its drought-resistant qualities, but these deep roots can be further encouraged through deep and infrequent watering. For the best growing results, 1” of water per week is ideal, if grown in sandy soil 1.5” may be better to promote sturdier roots in the sand.

Soils with a pH of 5.8 to 7.0 will give the best health so regular checks with a standard lawn pH tester will give you an insight on whether you need to fertilize as Zoysia can get away with minimal fertilization, perhaps in late spring or summer.

Price of Zoysia Grass

Zoysia can cost between $0.40 to $0.60 per square foot and $180 to $270 per pallet.

Zoysia falls in the middle range of grass price with many variants being cheaper or more expensive based on the needs and wants of the buyer.

What’s the Verdict – Centipede Grass or Zoysia?

Both Zoysia and Centipede are great grasses; both are super hardy and make great choices as garden turf.

But which one is better?

As you can see there are so many advantages of both of these warm-season grasses as turf but what dictates one better than the other depends on you!

If you’re more likely to entertain and you want a grass that is tolerant to foot traffic then Zoysia is the one for you, however, if you want something that can last pretty much all year long, even in mild winters, then Centipede is great too.

If we’re basing the decision on my opinion, Zoysia grass would be the one for me. It is super durable and low maintenance, requires little attention from me whilst still keeping its aesthetic appeal. What more could you want?

FAQ

Will Zoysia overtake Centipede?

Zoysia is a slow grower, much slower than Centipede, therefore, if Centipede is to maintain a height of 5” it will easily out-grow Zoysia and eventually crowd it out.

Can I overseed my Centipede grass with Zoysia?

Many people say you can overseed your Centipede with Zoysia, however, the super slow growth rate may prove to be too long for your desired effect in thickening or enhancing your Centipede lawn.

It is completely doable, however, will take a while for the effect to be noticeable.

Can I mix Centipede and Zoysia?

Mixing the two types of grass may be problematic as Zoysia has a stronger and more aggressive root system and so mixing the two may create a competition in which over time the Centipede grass will be compromised.

Overseeding to enhance the health in dormant seasons is doable but simultaneous mixing may not be the best approach.

Summary

So, there you have it guys a fully comprehensive guide on two really great lawns as well as an FAQ!

Whilst I chose Zoysia as my go-to, Centipede grass is equally as great in a variety of situations.

Let me know what you think: Zoysia or Centipede grass, I love to read your opinions!

About the Author: Andy Gibson

My name's Gibson. Andy Gibson. I like to think of myself as the Bond of the backyard, that is if yard work ever became sexy. I write about everything about indoor and outdoor gardening and the dread-it-but-still-need-to-do-it chores around the yard, like cleaning out the gutter guards.