Bermuda Vs Centipede Grass | What’s The Difference?

The very best varieties of warm-season grass are meant to tick all the right boxes. Like being especially heat tolerant, capable of providing a lush thick carpet, and being able to hold up admirably under foot traffic.

Which begs the question: Bermuda vs centipede grass? Which option will provide you with the lawn dreams are made of?

Their key distinguishing features and unique perks have been provided right here to ensure you’re able to make an informed choice that’s best for you.

Bermuda Vs Centipede Grass

Centipede and Bermuda grass are especially popular options in states which enjoy a great deal of sunshine.

However, key differences exist between them. These include the level of soil acidity required for each species, their cold tolerance, and their ability to recover from stress.

Each of these factors as well as additional criteria are examined in detail below.

Bermuda Vs Centipede Grass.

Bermuda Grass Vs Centipede Grass

Centipede Grass Characteristics

Centipede grass is believed to have been introduced from China. This variety of warm-season grass, also nicknamed “lazy man’s grass”, tends to provide a thick turf.  

Yellow-green in color, it is renowned for its resistance to heat and salt making it an ideal choice for oceanfront properties.  It is also low maintenance and is noted for its coarse appearance.

Centipede grass grows rather slowly and prefers slightly acidic soil (with a pH between 5 – and 6).

It may be propagated by plugs, seed, sprigs, or sod.

Growing Regions

This species is mainly grown in the southeast (plant hardiness zones 7 – 10), i.e., in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas (along the Gulf Coast). It is also grown in the Carolinas.

Soil Type and pH

One of the best qualities of centipede grass is its ability to grow properly in soil that isn’t particularly fertile.

It does extremely well with loamy or sandy soil which is mildly acidic. Although pH levels of 5 – 6 are recommended, centipede grass will grow in soil with a pH of 4.5.

If you intend to choose this variety of grass, you may need to verify the acidity of your soil. Adding sulfur can help lower its pH if necessary. (Your nearest extension office will be able to provide invaluable assistance with a testing kit and instructions on how to enhance your soil’s acidity.)

Tolerance of Heat and Cold

Centipede grass is extremely heated tolerant and its optimal temperature range lies between 80° – 95° Fahrenheit (27° – 35° Celsius).

It is however susceptible to colder weather and a temperature of 65° Fahrenheit (18° Celsius) is sufficient to trigger a state of dormancy.

Drought Tolerance

Centipede grass requires the regular showers which occur in America’s South and also needs to be watered frequently for the best results. (Its shallow root system plays a role in its vulnerability in this regard.)

If exposed to drought-like conditions, its blades may curl up and become dull in color. However, the grass is capable of recovering promptly once you begin to water it appropriately.

Shade Tolerance

Centipede grass has a rather low tolerance for shade. The warm-season turf requires six hours of sunlight per day.  However, it is capable of growing beneath the dappled light provided by pine trees just like Bahia grass. That said, it is less shade tolerant compared to St. Augustine and zoysiagrass, but more shade tolerant than Bermuda grass.

Tolerance To Footfall

Centipede grass is slow-growing and does not recover quickly from wear. As a result, its ability to tolerate footfall is rather low.

This means that this choice of turf is more suited to residential areas which will not experience a great deal of traffic from pets, kids, or adults.

Level of Maintenance

Centipede grass is rather low maintenance and requires just an inch of water every seven days.

You should dethatch it once its thatch reaches ¼ inch thickness. Doing so will prevent it from taking root in the thatch rather than the soil and being deprived of essential nutrients and minerals as a result.

This warm-season species should be mowed to a height of 1 inch. 

It should be fertilized thrice a year: once in spring and twice in summer. 

(A yearly total of 1 pound per 1,000 square feet is all that’s required.)

Bermuda Grass Characteristics

Fast-growing with a dark blue or gray-green coloring, Bermuda grass is capable of providing a luxuriant turf and is believed to have been introduced from Africa or India. The species which is also referred to as wiregrass is especially resistant to heat, drought, and wear. 

This variety of grass thrives in soil that is mildly acidic to neutral. However, according to Clemson Cooperative Extension, pH levels ranging between 6 and 6.5 are best for it.

Bermuda grass can be grown using seed, sprigs, or sod.

Growing Regions

Bermuda grass is popularly grown in America’s southern states. (Like centipede grass it is also suited to plant hardiness zones 7 -10.)

States in which it is likely to thrive include Alabama, Arkansas, the Carolinas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. It is also widely used in Kansas and is presently gaining widespread acceptance in Missouri.

Soil Type and pH

Bermuda grass prefers nutritious soils of sand or clay with a higher pH compared to those required for centipede grass. As a result, it can grow in soils with a pH ranging from 5.8 to 7.0

If your soil is too acidic, you may need to add lime to make it more alkaline. (As noted above, your local extension office will be able to provide you with helpful tips on the procedure.)

Tolerance of Heat and Cold

Bermuda grass’ tolerance for heat may be considered exceptional. Although it thrives best at a temperature range of 75° – 95° Fahrenheit (24° – 35° Celsius), this variety of turf can also do very well at 100° Fahrenheit.

Bermuda grass has a slightly higher degree of cold tolerance compared to centipede grass. (It will begin to enter a stage of dormancy at 50° Fahrenheit (10° Celsius).)

Drought Tolerance

Unlike centipede grass which has a shallow root system, Bermuda’s runs pretty deep (it is actually capable of reaching depths of two meters). As a result, it is capable of resisting drought to a far more impressive degree compared to the former variety of grass. 

However, in the presence of drought, it will go dormant but will spring to life again as soon as watering or rainfall commences.

Shade Tolerance

Bermuda grass is actually the least shade-tolerant variety of warm-season grass. Unlike centipede grass which is capable of tolerating moderate amounts of it, this variety of turf prefers 100% sunlight and requires a minimum of four hours of it per day.

The presence of shade can make it more susceptible to pests and disease since its levels of energy production would be affected.

Tolerance To Footfall

One of Bermuda grass’ key qualities is its ability to recover quickly and grow copiously. As a result, it is capable of recovering promptly from wear making it capable of tolerating footfall remarkably well.

This quality is the reason it is the turf of choice for golf courses and sports grounds in the American South.

Level of Maintenance

Bermuda grass requires more attention compared to centipede grass. 

It should be provided with 6 inches of water following which it should be left until its leaves start to curl and footprints become more pronounced on the turf. This may take anywhere from slightly under a week to slightly over it. Once this occurs it should be provided with the same quantity of water.

Bermuda grass should be dethatched when its thatch grows over ½ inch in height; it should also be mowed to heights of 1 to 1½ inches.

Use a specific Bermuda grass fertilizer or one that is recommended for warm-season turf as follows:

  • March – May: 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet (at intervals of 4 – 6 weeks).
  • June – August: 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet (at intervals of 4 – 10 weeks).
  • December – February: ½ pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, first in December and then in February (only if the grass has been overseeded).

Bermuda Vs Centipede Comparison Chart

Centipede GrassBermuda Grass
Growing RegionsThe South East 

(Plant hardiness zones 7 – 10)
The South, Kansas, Missouri
(Plant hardiness zones 7 – 10)
Soil TypeMildly acidic sandy, loamy soilMildly acidic, neutral clay or sandy soil
Soil pH4.5 – 65.8 – 7
Heat ToleranceHigh  (80° – 95° Fahrenheit (27°- 35° Celsius))High(75° – 100° Fahrenheit (24° – 38° Celsius))
Cold ToleranceLow(65° Fahrenheit (18° Celsius))Low (50° Fahrenheit (10° Celsius))
Drought ToleranceLowLow
Shade Tolerance LowExtremely Low
Footfall ToleranceLowHigh
Growth RateSlowRapid
Level of MaintenanceLow (Frequent watering required)Medium (Weekly watering, frequent mowing required)

Verdict: Bermuda Vs Centipede Grass

So which grass should you choose?

Centipede grass is an excellent option if you live in the southeast and want a thick lawn that will require minimum care.

Bermuda might be just what you need if you prefer luxuriant dark-colored turf that is slightly more tolerant to the cold, is capable of withstanding foot traffic, and will grow impressively fast.