Bermuda Vs Centipede Grass | What’s The Difference?

The very best varieties of warm-season grass need 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?

I’ve broken down their key distinguishing features and unique perks below so you can make an informed choice that’s best for you.

Centipede Vs Bermuda

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

However, key differences do 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

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Centipede Grass Characteristics

Centipede grass is believed to have originated in China. This variety of warm-season grass, also nicknamed ‘lazy man’s grass’, provides 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’s also low maintenance and is noted for its coarse appearance.

Centipede grows rather slowly and prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.0.

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

Growing Regions

This species is mainly grown in the Southeast, in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 10 — i.e., Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Soil Type and pH

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

It does extremely well with loamy or sandy soil which is mildly acidic. Although pH levels of 5.0 to 6.0 are recommended, centipede grass will grow in soil with a pH as low as 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 a testing kit and instructions on how to enhance your soil’s acidity if needed.)

Tolerance of Heat and Cold

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

It is, however, susceptible to colder weather. Temperatures at or below 65° Fahrenheit (18° Celsius) may trigger dormancy.

Drought Tolerance

Centipede grass 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 has a low tolerance for shade. This warm-season turf requires 6 hours of sunlight per day. However, it is also capable of growing in dappled light, 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 foot traffic is rather low.

This turf is more suited to residential areas that don’t experience a great deal of traffic from pets, kids, or adults.

Level of Maintenance

Centipede lawns are rather low maintenance and require just an inch of water every week.

According to Clemson University, you should dethatch once the thatch layer reaches ¼ inch thick. Doing so will prevent it from taking root in the thatch rather than the soil and being deprived of essential nutrients and minerals.

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

It should be fertilized three times 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. It likely originates from Africa or India. This 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, pH levels ranging between 6 and 6.5 are best for it.

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

Growing Regions

Bermuda lawns are popular in America’s Southern states. Like centipede grass, it is also suited to hardiness zones 7 to 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 lawns. 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 I 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 is exceptional. Although, according to Oregon State University, 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 has a slightly higher degree of cold tolerance compared to centipede grass. It will begin to enter 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.

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 shade, this variety of turf prefers 100% sunlight and requires a minimum of 4 hours of it per day.

Shade can make it more susceptible to pests and disease by impacting the grass’ energy production.

Tolerance To Footfall

One of Bermuda grass’ key qualities is its ability to recover quickly and grow vigorously. It is capable of recovering promptly from wear and tear caused by foot traffic.

This 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 than centipede. 

It should be provided with 6 inches of water to drench the entire root system. It should then 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 watered again.

Bermuda lawns should be dethatched when its thatch grows over ½ inch. It should 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 Southeast 

(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 Lawn

So which grass should you choose?

Centipede grass is an excellent option if you live in the Southeast and want a thick lawn that requires 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.