Friday, June 6, 2014

Over-seeding Centipede Lawns with Winter Rye

As I was riding my bike through the neighborhood this evening I rode past a house that used to have a beautiful Centipede lawn. In fact it may have been the nicest lawn in the neighborhood several years running. Then they started over-seeding with Winter Rye  in the fall about 2-3 years ago. My lawn was fully green by early May but I've been watching this lawn and the winter rye has died off but there is no sign of the Centipede coming out of dormancy.

June 5, 2014 (Over-seeded with Winter Rye)

Centipede grass often called the poor-mans grass, and boasts a number of benefits over other types of grasses, the most important of which for homeowners is its low requirements for maintenance. Centipede grass is able to grow, and often thrives, on sandy and clay based ground, needs little fertilization, and does not require frequent mowing. Centipede grass can prosper without watering in average rainfall years, making it ideal for busy homeowners.

I had never encountered Centipede grass until we moved to SC.It was the sod they put down on our new houses lawn. I'd gotten used to lawns going brown while living in Georgia so that wasn't an issue. But had to get used to the low maintenance needs. But some people enjoy green turf so much they will over-seed their Bermuda grass lawn with rye grass each fall to have a green front yard when Bermuda grass is normally brown. Although Bermuda grass tolerates over-seeding well, centipede grass does not. The fertilizer you give rye grass will stimulate the centipede grass out of dormancy too soon and make it susceptible to freezing. Also Rye grass growing on top of centipede grass holds winter moisture and can cause disease on the centipede grass. Rye grass will  also compete with centipede grass when the centipede grass is trying to green-up in spring.

Most experts recommend that you do NOT over-seed your centipede lawn with a winter rye grass.  It can in some situations result in thinning out (killing) of your lawn over time due to the added stress of early spring competition.  Fescue in general is a better over-seed variety to use (not rye grass). However in general the best recommendation is to do nothing to a centipede  lawn in the fall. Basically it’s a terrible idea to plant rye
grass into centipede grass to keep it green in winter. Let your centipede grass lawn go dormant in November and take a break from mowing!

June 5, 2014 (No over-seeding)


  1. So, why are so many centipede grass lawns looking so bad this year? Is it from the freeze we had?

  2. I did overseed my front yard this fall I was trying to get bare spots covered now I'm looking to get the back yard which is very shaded seeded for the summer what do you prefer I was thinking bermuda I live in Myrtle Beach