Bermuda Grass vs. Centipede Grass: 5 Ways They Differ

Written by Jennifer Hollohan
Updated: July 26, 2023
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A beautiful, lush green lawn is a source of pride for homeowners. But with so many grass species available, choosing the most appropriate one can be difficult. So, to help you out, we explore two grass species below — Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) and centipede grass (Eremochloa ophiuroides). We look at similarities between the two, along with their unique attributes. 

Bermuda Grass vs. Centipede Grass: Comparison

Looking at distinct categories of characteristics makes it easier to see the differences between Bermuda grass and centipede grass. The chart below outlines each. 

Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) and centipede grass (Eremochloa ophiuroides) are warm-weather grasses that do not tolerate the cold. So they are commonly found gracing lawns in the southern United States.

But while Bermuda grass and centipede grass share a few commonalities, they have a lot of differences. Some differences include their origin, uses, leaves, root system, and growing requirements. We examine each of these areas more below.

Bermuda GrassCentipede Grass
Scientific ClassificationCynodon dactylonEremochloa ophiuroides
Common Name(s)Bermuda grass; Devil’s grassCentipede grass
OriginsIt is native to subtropical and tropical regions around the globe.It is native to Southeast Asia and China.
UsesThis turf grass is commonly found on lawns, golf courses, and athletic fields.  Found in southern lawns with low-traffic. 
LeavesLeaf colors range from gray and silver to green. The linear and hairy leaves are thin, only reaching 1/10 inch wide. But they grow up to 6 inches long.Light to medium-colored green leaves that grow up to 5 inches long. Leaves have a coarser texture. 
RootsBermuda grass is deeply rooted, which allows for rapid growth. Shallow root system. 
Growing RequirementsIt needs full sun and soil with good drainage. This grass is high-maintenance and a nutrient hog. It is heat, drought, and high-traffic tolerant but does not like cold weather. Propagate from seed. Not picky about soil types. Perennial in Zones 6 to 10.Heat and partial shade tolerant. Low maintenance and needs fewer nutrients than other grass species. Centipede grass does not like alkaline soil. Not drought tolerant. It needs more water than many other species. It spreads by stolons, grows slowly, and is not high-traffic tolerant.
Fun FactsIt was fully established as a popular lawn grass in the United States by 1807. Easily confused with crabgrass.This grass arrived in the southern United States in the early 1900s. 

Bermuda Grass vs. Centipede Grass: Origin

Bermuda grass is native to subtropical and tropical regions around the globe. It is common in parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia.

On the other hand, centipede grass is native to China and Southeast Asia.

Bermuda Grass vs. Centipede Grass: Uses

Both Bermuda grass and centipede grass are considered invasive weeds in some areas. But Bermuda grass has the greatest reputation for this due to its rapid growth rate.

However, in areas where these grasses are not considered invasive, Bermuda grass makes an excellent addition to lawns, golf courses, athletic fields, and other public spaces. This extensive use is due to its resilient nature. Bermuda grass holds up well to heavy use and high traffic.

Centipede grass does not like high-traffic areas, though. Its slow growth means the grass takes a long time to regenerate after heavy use. Due to this, centipede grass is ideal for lawns that are low-maintenance and receive little to no traffic. 

Bermuda grass lawn

Bermuda grass holds up well in high-traffic areas such as athletic fields.

©Joyjiraporn/Shutterstock.com

Bermuda Grass vs. Centipede Grass: Leaves

The leaves of Bermuda grass are green, with a hint of gray/silver. They are extremely thin and measure only about 1/10 inch wide. However, the blades can reach up to 6 inches in length. Apart from some hairs, Bermuda grass leaves are relatively smooth.

In contrast, the leaves of centipede grass are light to medium green in color. They are coarser to the touch and slightly shorter, growing up to 5 inches long. 

Bermuda Grass vs. Centipede Grass: Roots

The popular Bermuda grass has a deep root system that often extends up to 6 inches down. Its extensive and deep roots provide a second avenue of growth via its rhizomes. So it grows extremely rapidly and can often take over an area.

In contrast, centipede grass has a fairly shallow root system. It can get damaged easily and is slow to recover. 

Bermuda Grass vs. Centipede Grass: Growing Requirements

Bermuda grass is highly heat and drought-tolerant. Additionally, it can survive in almost any soil conditions, provided there is full sun. It is perennial in Zones 6-10 but will grow year-round in warmer climates.

This grass species is extremely high-maintenance and requires a lot of nutrients. You can propagate it by direct sowing seed. Just be prepared to put effort into its care. 

On the other hand, centipede grass is picky about its soil conditions. While heat tolerant, it is not drought tolerant and requires regular watering. Additionally, it cannot survive in alkaline soil. Therefore, the regions it grows in are limited.

However, centipede grass can tolerate partial shade and needs significantly fewer nutrients. 

Centipede grass close up

Centipede grass is heat tolerant but not drought tolerant.

©MarkS26/Shutterstock.com

The photo featured at the top of this post is © aimful/Shutterstock.com


Sources

  1. Pennington Seeds, Available here: https://www.pennington.com/all-products/grass-seed/resources/all-you-need-to-know-about-bermudagrass
  2. North Carolina State University, Available here: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/cynodon-dactylon/
  3. Pennington Seeds, Available here: https://www.pennington.com/all-products/grass-seed/resources/all-you-need-to-know-about-centipede-grass
  4. iNaturalist, Available here: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/162425-Eremochloa-ophiuroides
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About the Author

Jennifer Hollohan is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on gardening, mammals, and travel. Jennifer has over twenty years of writing experience. She holds a Master of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, which she earned in 2005, and is a Herbalist. Jennifer lives in Colorado with her family. She loves hiking, admiring wildflowers, gardening, and making herbal tea.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is Bermuda grass a good grass to have?

Bermuda grass is incredibly resilient. It can withstand high levels of heat and even drought conditions. Additionally, it holds up well to heavy use.

 

What are the disadvantages of Bermuda grass?

Bermuda grass is susceptible to pests and diseases. But perhaps more important is that this grass species is an aggressive grower. Bermuda grass will gladly take over the space if you have a garden or flower bed near your lawn.

What are the pros and cons of centipede grass?

This species of grass is a low and slow grower. You won’t have to worry about it encroaching on your beautiful flowerbed. Unfortunately, it does not tolerate cold weather well. So if you live in colder environments, you may need to select another species.

Which is better, Bermuda grass or centipede grass?

That depends entirely on the area you intend to plant it or lay down sod. Bermuda grass tolerates heavy use, whereas centipede grass holds up best under light use.

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