- STEP 1. Spray existing weeds. The first step in planting a new Centipede Grass lawn is to eliminate all weeds from the lawn area. Use a non selective weed control like Round-Up. Plan ahead since you will need to wait approximately two weeks (check product label) after sprayer before you seed. Do not apply a pre-emergence weed control any time within three months of seeding a Centipede Grass lawn.
- STEP 2. Establish the grade. One of the best ways to guarantee a beautiful lawn is to establish the proper grade before you begin. This may be more than most of us can afford, but consider it nonetheless. The proper slope has the potential to prevent both drought and poor drainage. It also makes mowing easier. In general, a 2-6% grade is optimal.
- STEP 3. Cultivate the soil as deeply as possible. The deeper you can cultivate the soil, the more quickly your lawn will establish and thrive. Remember to wait the allotted time after spraying your herbicide before cultivating. Begin by removing debris like dead weeds, leaves and rocks from the area. Next, cultivate the soil with a rear-tine roto-tiller. If you don't have a roto-tiller consider renting one from a tool rental store. Rototill the entire area lengthwise, then again crosswise. Try to work at least 4-6 inches of soil into a nice pulverized soil mix. If you prefer not to till, cultivate as much of the area as you can with a hoe, garden rake, or shovel. The deeper you work the soil the better. Once you have cultivated the soil you will want to water this area for approximately 1 month if time allows and wait for new weeds to sprout then spray those out before seeding.
- STEP 4. Amend the soil. During home construction, most of the natural humus in the top layer of soil is usually scraped away or buried. The remaining soil will probably be low in organic matter and will be greatly improved if you add humus. Most soil will need to be amended with humus before you plant. In almost all cases it is cases, it is better to spend the time amending the current soil with humus rather than hauling in new topsoil. Adding humus will improve drainage in clay soils and improve water retention in sandy soils. Peat moss, composted bark products, and compost are all good choices. Be careful, however, if you use a soil amendment that contains a gel like substance to retain water. These products can cause strange drainage problems.
STEP 5. Seeding Centipede grass. When seeding a centipede grass lawn, plan on using about .5 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet. Centipede seed should germinate in 2-3 weeks. Remember not to buy a mix that contains other types of grass besides centipede grass and make sure the seed is fresh by checking that the germination test date is within the last year.Begin by raking the area to create a smooth soil surface as possible. Using a metal tined leaf rake will create tiny furrows and ridge in the soil surface to capture the seed. Centipede grass seed is minute and should be mixed with approximately twice as much dry sand before sowing (giving you volume to work with). In short, 1 pound of seed should be mixed with 2 pounds of dry sand. The seed/sand mix can be spread with a fertilizer spreader or broadcast by hand carefully. When using a spreader, distribute half the allotted mix lengthwise and the second half crosswise to avoid any skips. Since centipede grass seed is so small, rake the area very carefully to cover the seeds with a fine layer of soil (1/8 inch or less). Next, water the entire area to work the seed into the soil.
- STEP 6. Irrigation during establishment. Begin by watering lightly every day always keeping the soil moist but not soggy. Once your grass is established decrease the frequency of irrigation but increase the amount of water you apply. You should apply an inch of water per week, in one application, if there has been no significant rainfall.
- STEP 7. Mowing during establishment. Newly seeded centipede grass should be mowed as soon as it reaches 1.5 inches. This will take a relatively long time because of centipede’s horizontal growth habit. It is always a good idea to use a mower with a sharp blade and cut frequently. Mowing will encourage the grass blades to toughen and spread.
- STEP 8. Fertilizing during establishment. Centipede grass lawns prefer low levels of soil nutrients. A slow release fertilizer applied at planting time should be enough for the coming summer. You next application will be the normal early September application (see fertilizer).
- STEP 9. Weed control during establishment. Weeds are especially troublesome in seeded and plugged centipede grass lawns. There is plenty of bare earth, moisture, and fertilizer helping weed seeds germinate. Wait until you have mowed two or three times before you begin spraying with post emergence weed controls. Check the product label for specific instructions. In all cases, wait until fall to begin applying pre emergence weed control.
Links Regarding Maintaining a Centipede Grass Lawn
Centipede Grass Seed