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Centipede Grass: How to Overseed in 6 Easy Steps

Centipede grass, one of the most common grasses, often develops bald patches and thinning areas of the lawn, making it unattractive. Heavy foot traffic and too much shade may result in the grass decline. But overseeding a centipede grass lawn is the best way to create thick and healthy turf. Proper management, correct watering, and fertilization after overseeding can save your yard and bring it back to life. So, prepare your lawn and overseed centipede grass before it is too late.  

How to Overseed Centipede Grass?

Overseeding a centipede grass lawn is effortless and fruitful if done at the right time and the right way. 

Centipede is a warm-season grass; therefore, do not overseed your lawn in winter or unless the threat of the last frost is gone. Overseed lawn in the spring or early summer when seeds can germinate before winter sets in. 

Ideally, a warm soil temperature of 70° F is necessary for seeds to sprout well. On the contrary, winter seedlings do not grow until the temperature warms up. Therefore, it is not recommended to plant centipede grass after mid-summer or July.   

Before you Start, You Must Estimate the Necessary  Seed Amount

Establishing a lush green lawn requires an adequate amount of seeds, and its calculation is essential to the success of overseeding. You can use ½ pound seeds per 1,000 squares feet to get a good lawn in two to three months of summer growth.

 Spending on the seeds is the least expensive way to make the lawn healthier. Otherwise, an additional cost of weed treatment and frequent watering may blow your lawn care away later in the summer. 

The seed amount is estimated as follows: 

  • 1 lb. seeds cover up to 4,000 square feet
  • 3 lb. seeds cover up to 12 000 square feet

6 Easy Steps to Lawn Preparation and Overseeding Your Centipede Grass

  1. Prepare the lawn by removing all debris, pine straws, rotten leaves, and leftover grass clippings to ensure maximum seed contact with the soil. Also, the existing soil may be compacted and in need of aerating. Compacted soil can prevent seeds from absorbing moisture or nutrients required for their germination. Therefore, break the ground and make it more viable to the seeds.
  2. Mow your lawn reasonably low, about 1 ½ inch, to allow the sun to reach the seeds. If the grass is relatively longer, cut off the top one-third blades at a time. 
  3. Clear up the grass clippings and remove other debris or dry leaves to clear the ground. 
  4. Moisten the soil with water for 30 minutes to soften the topsoil and rake the thatch layer. The key is to break the ground and loosen it around existing centipede grass. Try not to rake hard as it can pull up the current grass. Aeration is another option before applying seeds. 
  5. Now add seeds to the seed spreader or use a Cyclone type broadcast spreader to distribute seeds over the lawn evenly. You can divide the seeds in half and go over the area twice. Sowing from east to west and then north to south ensures uniformity and prevents skipping any corner of the site. Mixing seeds with clean and dry building sand also makes broadcasting easier. 
  6. Lastly, when the seeds are spread, rake the seeds with a leaf rake or light metal rake to ensure good seed and soil contact. Cover the seeds with soil and keep 1/8 to ¼ inches deep. Preferably, do not cover seeds deeper than ¼ inch, resulting in no seed germination. 
  7. Water the grass every day until seeds germinate that may take as much as three weeks.

What are The Best Grasses to Use for Overseeding Centipede Grass? 

One of the best ways to remedy centipede grass thinning is to overseed it with other grasses. For growth problems due to shade, Buffalo turf (Stenotaphrum secundatum) is a good option. Otherwise, Bermuda grass and Ryegrass are also good centipede companions. 

Overseeding Centipede Grass with Bermuda 

If your centipede grass lawn has several disease issues, it may benefit from overseeding with Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon). Bermuda grass grows well with centipede grass and overcomes lawn baldness. But always buy good quality Bermuda grass seeds for the best results. Check to see that the germination rate of the seeds should be greater than 85%. Also, check to see that it has less than 5% inert matter.

Mow the grass short before overseeding Bermuda grass seeds. Bermuda is also a warm-season grass, and overseeding it before the cooler months helps make the lawn green. The ideal time to overseed this grass would be in October or November. Plus, there would be no need to mow or fertilize the lawn in the cooler months. 

Overseeding Centipede Grass with Ryegrass

Ryegrass (genus Lolium) also grows well with centipede grass. A plus point of Ryegrass is; it is a cool-season grass that stays green throughout the cool winter months while the warm-season grasses turn brown. That is why you can enjoy a lush green lawn in winter, even in the presence of centipede grass. 

Plant Ryegrass with a centipede in spring and fertilize to stimulate the growth of centipede grass. There are very chances that Ryegrass competes with already existing grass to stay green, so keep supplementing the soil with nutrients.  Let the centipede grass go dormant in November and take a break from mowing. 

Post Overseeding Lawn Maintenance

An overseeded lawn can be fully established in eight weeks or less, depending on the care routine, moisture level, and soil temperature. Proper watering and fertilization are critical aspects to make overseeding successful. 

centipede grass
Click image to learn some basic tips for healthier grass.

The following is the recommended watering program: 

  • Water heavily immediately after overseeding to wash grass seeds into slits. 
  • When grass seeds germinate, water lightly daily and soak the first one inch of soil. It may take the first 10 to 14 days after sowing.  
  • After germination, water less frequently but let it penetrate to encourage more robust root growth. 
  • When grass is established, water sparingly and do not let the soil become soggy or overly saturated. 

Follow these guidelines to fertilize your lawn after overseeding: 

  • Centipede fertilizers are rich in nitrogen and potassium but have a low amount of phosphorus as it reduces iron levels that is not encouraging for proper growth. 
  • Choose a centipede grass fertilizer with a ratio of 15-0-15.
  • An ideal fertilization schedule is 1/3 of a pound per 1,000 square feet three times a year or ¼ of a pound per 1,000 square feet four times a year. 
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