Knowing how to overseed a centipede lawn will help you achieve a thick, beautiful turf. It is also a great way to introduce new grass varieties to a lawn. It is the process of adding new grass seed to already established turf. Overseeding is done without tilling, or turning over the soil, making it easier and faster than sodding an entire yard.
Centipede grass is known for its beautiful green hues and low maintenance requirements. Over time, Centipede lawns may begin to show signs of thinning and decline. If a centipede lawn develops bald spots or thin areas, it may be time to overseed the turf.
When to Overseed a Centipede Lawn
Centipede is a warm-season grass, meaning that it enters its growing window in the spring and early summertime. It is best to overseed a centipede yard a few weeks after the last threat of frost has passed. Do not attempt to overseed existing turf if the danger of frost or extreme weather is still present. Also, sweltering summertime heat will make it difficult to grow new grass successfully.
It is ideal to plant the new seeds at the very beginning of the growing season. Peak planting times will vary by USDA Zones. Suggested planting windows can be found below. All dates below are suggestions, and homeowners should monitor yearly weather patterns in their area before choosing a target date to plant.
|Zone||Last Frost Date||Suggested Planting Window|
|6||April 10 – 20||April 25 – May 20|
|7||March 20 – April 1||April 10 – May 15|
|8||March 10 – 25||April 5 – May 20|
|9||February 15 – March 1||March 20 – April 25|
|10||February 1 -March 1||March 15 – April 25|
7 Steps to Overseeding
1. Remove all Debris from the Lawn
Remove all sticks, leaves, pine straw, and other debris from the lawn. Creating an obstacle-free yard will allow for an even and smooth distribution of seeds. Leaves and pine straw can prohibit fresh Centipede seeds from receiving the proper water and sunlight needed to grow.
2. Mow Low
Cut the Centipede turf to a height of around one inch. Shortening the grass’ blades will help to ensure that the seeds contact the soil. Bag grass clippings for later use in the overseeding process. Take the opportunity also to remove any remaining debris that you missed in the first step.
3. Aerate or Rake the Lawn
Aeration is the process of breaking up compact soil so that nutrients are absorbed more easily into the ground. Breaking up hard or compacted dirt guarantees strong growth in impacted areas. If aeration is too complicated or expensive, rake the area with a metal lawn rake.
Scratching the surface of the soil will create more surface area for the seeds to come into contact with. The greater the amount of seed to soil contact, the more likely it is that new grass will grow.
If you rake instead of aerate the lawn, make sure to rake hard enough to break up any soil clusters. You may see some green grass come up with rough raking, and this is ok. Do not destroy the existing grass, but aggressive raking is fine.
4. Choose Centipede Grass Seed and Broadcast Spreader
Homeowners will need to choose a Centipede grass seed to overseed their lawn with. Seeds come in coated and non-coated varieties. There are different options for varying applications and price points.
It's best to use a broadcast spreader for even application of the new grass seed. Use a hand spreader for small areas. A walk-behind broadcast spreader is great for areas larger than one-quarter of an acre. Always note the application settings of any broadcast spreader to endure an even and proper application of seed.
5. Evenly Apply the Centipede Grass Seed
Make evenly spaced passes over your lawn with a broadcast spreader. Follow the same pattern for the entirety of the lawn. This avoids uneven application or unwanted designs. Make sure not to overlap passes as this will apply too much seed to certain areas of the yard.
6. Loosely Cover the Centipede Grass Seed
Cover the newly planted grass seed with no more than 1/8th of an inch of soil, sand, or mulched clippings. Covering the newly planted seed will help to ensure seed-to-ground contact. Sand, soil, or clippings help retain moisture in the ground. If seeds are covered with too much soil, they may spoil or not grow.
7. Fertilize the Newly Seeded Lawn
Apply a 15-0-15 fertilizer to the overseeded areas. Freshly planted seeds will thrive with a boost of nutrients. Do not over-fertilize the turf, as burning the seeds kills new seed. Never apply a weed and feed, pre-emergent, or post-emergent herbicide to recently overseeded grass!
Freshly planted centipede seeds will need two to three inches of water twice per week. Make sure that the water makes its way a few inches into the soil after every application. If extreme heat exists, your lawn will require more water . Reduce watering three to four weeks after planting, depending on the progress of the seeds.
9. Maintain Routine Maintenance
After six to eight weeks after planting, reduce watering schedules to one to two inches per week. Regular cutting can resume. Make sure to not cut new Centipede grass growth any shorter than two inches for the first few months. Applying weed and feed, along with herbicides, is safe after three months.