Centipede Lawn Grass Seed
Gulf kist Centipede Lawn Grass Seed
Centipede has proved itself to be the best all-around lawn grass for most sections of the South United States..... particularly the South East. For many years Centipede had to be sprigged, a laborious and costly job. Now it is available in seed.
When to Plant
NEW LAWNS -- Seed a new lawn any time it can be prepared, except in late summer. Since cold will kill young seedlings, planting should be done no later than the end of August in Florida and coastal areas, early August in the mid-south and early July in the upper South. After the soil gets cold in late fall (November in most areas) it is again safe to seed because the Centipede seed will not germinate until the soil warms next Spring.
March and April are the best planting months for several reasons, but quicker germination will occur during May, June and July when the soil is warmer provided that the planting is adequately watered.
No germination of early plantings can be expected until soil temperatures become 70 dreg rees F. or better and the soil is kept constantly moist for two or three weeks.
OLD LAWNS -- More and more people are converting unsatisfactory lawns once planted in grass seed mixtures, Fescue, Bermuda, or Bahia to Centipede by seeding Centipede Seed. Although such efforts are highly rewarding, conversion to Centipede often requires two to four years, and is best started by seeding in early Spring. The reason is that because of the competition from existing vegetation the Centipede seedlings develop very slowly and need a full growing season to become well enough established to live through the first winter.
How Much to Plant
It is important that you know the size of your lot so that you can apply the correct amount of fertilizer and plant the correct quantity of Centipede Seed. Multiply the length of the lot in feet by the width in feet to arrive at the number of square feet that you have. Deduct a reasonable amount for buildings, paved driveways, and walks.
Plant at least one-fourth pound of Centipede Seed per 1,000 square feet on new lawns, and one-half pound per 1,000 square feet on old lawns. A heavier seeding rate on new lawns will give quicker and more positive results. You are making a lifetime investment that is insignificant compared with the overall cost of your house and lot, and you should not stint on the seeding rate, "Saving" on the cost of seed usually results in spending far more for cutting weeds until the Centipede finally chokes them out.
A Three Phase Operation
Good Seedbed Preparation is the first phase. On new lawns do a good job of grading, leveling, and smoothing. Remove debris, sticks and stones, and during the final smoothing operation mix into the soil about 15 pounds of balanced lawn fertilizer per 1,000 square feet. Good formulas are 8-8-8, 10-10-10, 5-10-10, and 5-10-5. See special instructions for preparation and fertilization of old lawns. Unless all top soil was removed in preparing your lot for construction, or unless additional soil is necessary to bring the lot up to "grade", you can usually produce a good Centipede lawn on whatever type of soil is on your lot. If additional soil must be brought in, make every effort to get soil from a wooded area so that it will be less infested with the seeds of crabgrass and other objectional weeds. The addition of peat, muck, or clay is desirable on deep sands. If new material is added to a lot, it is essential that the new materail be mixed with ethe tips six or eight inches of the existent soil for good performance of any grass.
Uniform Distribution of Centipede Seed is the second phase. This is easily and quickly accomplished with a shoulder carried, hand-cranked cyclone seeder. Carefully regulate the flow rate (hole opening should be about the thickness of a table knife blade) and go over the area twice, sowing from East to West and then North to South to insure uniformity. Such a seeder is a good buy as it also can be used for spreading fertilizer.
If no mechanical seeder is available, mix Centipede Seed with dry sand at the rate of approximately one pound Centipede Seed to 25 pounds of sand and hand scatter.
Mixing into The Soil is the third phase. Little germination can be expected from seed left on top of the soil, and seed buried more than one-half inch deep will not germinate. Thus it is extremely important that the seed be mixed into the upper one-half inch of soil. Merely rolling the a smoother roller does not embed the seed sufficiently for good germination.
The easiest way to mix the seed into the soil is vigorous but light raking with a regular steel-tooth rake (not the flexible lawn "broom"). On larger areas a heavy drag such as a railroad crosstie does a satisfactory job. Rolling after raking or dragging is beneficial.
Mulching -- On sloping areas where there is potential for serious water erosion, mulch lightly with wheat straw. Distribute well but thinly as the tiny Centipede seedling cannot emerge from a thick cover.
Water warm-weather plantings well immediately after planting, and continue to water as often as necessary to keep your soil constantly moist. Two or three waterings weekly may keep your soil moist during mild, cloudy weather, but everyday watering is often necessary during hot, sunny weather. Most lawn sprinklers apply less water than is generally thought and must be operated for considerable time in one place before moving in order to wet the soil thoroughly.
If the soil is kept constantly moist for about three weeks during warm weather, you should have up a stand of Centipede seedlings, and then you may reduce the frequency of your watering. Do not quit watering completely, as the tiny seedlings have a very shallow root system and will be killed if you permit the soil to dry out beneath the depth of their root structure.
After the seedlings have become well rooted, they will tolerate some dry weather, although continued watering will help produce a lawn sooner. In the early stages, moisture is critical, and you should regularly check your soil moisture in several spots by scratching with a knife. If the moisture level is below one-half inch, it is time to water again.
There in no need, of course, to water plantings made when the soil is too cool for germination. Usually very little supplemental watering is required to get up plantings made in March and early April. Most years, however, May and June bring several brief droughts and even if you cannot identify a single seedling from a Winter or early Spring planting at that time, you should water enough to keep from losing the seedlings you probably have but can't identify.
If you are planting when the soil is too cold for Centipede Seed germination, follow the same directions as for planting a new lawn, including fertilization. After sowing Centipede Seed, broadcast two to four pounds, nor more, common ryegrass seed per 1,000 square feet, and then rake the Centipede Seed and ryegrass into the top strata of soil. Do not add any additional fertilizer until the ryegrass has died out the following Spring (usually late May or early June). Your ryegrass will be somewhat thin, and it will by hungry by April. A thin hungry stand of ryegrass is exactly what you want, as a luxurious carpet of ryegrass in early Spring would choke out the tiny Centipede Seed seedlings as fast as they germinate.
Weeds are almost certain to infest every planting (as they do gardens and agricultural crops). the degree of infestation and the type of weeds will depend upon the number and kinds of weed seeds in your soil. Most soils have millions of weed seeds per acre. Crabgrass is one of the worst pests al all weeds in establishing new lawns with any grass. Given half a chance, Centipede will in time choke out the weeds and produce a turf so dense it prohibits their re growth.
Routine mowing will kill many weeds and afford enough light and growing room to the Centipede seedlings to help them overcome the others. Crabgrass begins germinating in early Spring, but does not grow much until the weather is hot, at which time it grows extremely rapidly. Frequent cutting to give the Centipede seedlings some light and growing room is about all you can do to help. Pulling weeds is of little value. Where Crabgrass competition is intense (sometimes water grasses and other sedges are almost as bad as Crabgrass) it will probably be early Fall before you can identify any Centipede seedlings. A light fertilization in early Fall (not more than 10 pounds balanced lawn fertilizer per 1,000 square feet) and another light application in early Spring will help Centipede to grow and spread while the weather is too cool for many pest weeds to grow rapidly.
Do not fertilizer in late Spring or Summer if you have a serious infestation of grassy weeds such as Crabgrass, and do not attempt to kill grassy weeds with chemicals. There simply is no chemical that will destroy such weeds without damaging or killing Centipede. Simply mow per above for the first year.
However, once your seedlings are established, weed competition may be reduced the following year by applying in late Winter a "weed and feed" fertilizer containing the chemicals Atrazine or Devrinol. There are several such fertilizers on the market. Read the label carefully and follow the directions precisely. Apply before the soil is warm enough to germinate Crabgrass, (late February in Florida and coastal areas, March elsewhere) as the chemical prevents weeds by killing seedlings as they germinate rather than killing existing weeds. Do not use on newly seeded Centipede. The Centipede seedlings must have been established for several weeks to tolerate the chemical.
Weeds provide erosion control, color and ground cover, and sometimes make an acceptable lawn when mowed. Do not despair if you have them, most other people have them too!
To Speed Coverage
Accelerating coverage is simple on clean soils where weed infestation is not severe. Simply fertilize with a very light amount of balanced lawn fertilizer every three to four weeks, using two to four pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn area. Apply when the grass is perfectly dry, and then water well to avoid chemical burn of the grass. Discontinue fertilization as soon as it is evident that your lawn will be perfected in a few more weeks, as too much fertilizer on mature Centipede is harmful.
In Existing Lawns
Under favorable conditions Centipede is more aggressive and persistent than other grasses and will eventually choke out undesirable grasses once it is introduced into a lawn (exceptions are healthy turfs of St. Augustine and Bahia, and dense Bermuda Turfs in open sun on very fertile soils, in which case the Centipede will make little or not headway).
The biggest problem in converting an old lawn is getting Centipede Seed worked into the mineral soil where they can germinate and root. If your old lawn is rough and uneven, it is a good idea to remove old turf, till and level the soil, and build a new lawn.
The first step on old lawns is to remove as much of the old grass as possible. Mow as close as your mower will cut, and rake off the clippings. Use a steel-toothed rake and work at the job vigorously. The more of the old grass you can remove and the more fresh soil you leave exposed the better. Many garden stores now rent powered renovation equipment (vertical cutting machines and aerifying machines) which will assist tremendously in preparing a good seed bed in an old lawn.
After you have done everything you can to expose a maximum of fresh soil, sow Centipede Seed and work into the soil per directions for establishing a new lawn. Subsequent management is the same as for a new lawn, except that you should not fertilize until such time as Centipede is becoming the dominant grass, as Centipede will progress better on poor feeding then any other grass. Keep the lawn mowed closely so that existing grasses will not shade Centipede seedlings.
Conversion to a care-free lawn of pure Centipede is occasionally accomplished in as little as one year, but it is best to expect conversion to require several years. In the meanwhile, the lawn will gradually improve as Centipede becomes dominant. A light canopy of shade, such as that provided by pine trees, will make choking out Bermuda and some other grasses much easier for the Centipede.
Managing Established Lawns
Fertilization -- Once your Centipede has almost covered the ground, suspend fertilization as you will have an adequate plant food residue to produce a perfected turf. Fertilize mature Centipede very sparingly and only when the lawn actually needs it. On good soils fertilization every third or fourth year is usually adequate. On poor soils you may wish to fertilize every year (June or July are preferred months). Never use more than 10 pounds balanced lawn fertilizer per 1,000 square feet. Do not use high nitrogen fertilizers, such as Ammonium Nitrate or "Specials" containing high nitrogen (more than 15%). Excessive fertilization may produce a beautiful turf for a short period, but will probably get you into trouble in the long run.
Watering -- Water established Centipede only when it needs it, and then water deeply. Grass which begins wilting early in the day is suffering for water. Most lawn sprinklers must be run for several hours in one location to afford a deep watering. Dig down to see what you are actually doing. Shallow watering brings the roots near the surface where they demand more frequent waterings still, and prevent good performance of the grass. Water at any time, day or night.
Mowing -- Centipede is a slow growing grass and does not require as frequent mowing as other lawn grasses. However, it looks better when mowed regularly, and will have fewer insect and disease problems if kept cut closely (about one inch). Both reel and rotary mowers are satisfactory. Always use a sharp mower. Dull mowers "chew" and discolor any grass. When you buy a new mower, buy one equipped to catch the clippings, and collect and remove your clippings at each mowing. If your mower will not catch clippings, you can keep your lawn healthier and more attractive by raking and removing them when growth is heavy. It is difficult to overemphasize the value of regular, close cutting, sparing fertilization, and the removal of clippings in keeping a lawn healthy and attractive indefinitely.
Winter color -- Like all permanent Southern lawn grasses, Centipede turns brown after a few heavy frosts and does not green up again until the following Spring, except in frost-free areas. Over seeding Centipede with ryegrass is an acceptable practice accomplished by conventional methods.
Every living thing, plant or animal, has enemies and is subject to illness. Centipede is no exception, but it is more trouble-free than any other grass when managed properly. On some soils Centipede will develop a distinct yellowish cast during Spring and other periods of rapid growth. This is caused by a deficiency of available iron, and is know as iron chlorosis. Fertilization usually aggravates the problem although it may seem to offer a temporary cure. The correct treatment is the application of a quickly available iron compound and a number of these are available through garden and seed stores (sold as chelated or sequestered iron). A small soil insect known as "ground pearl" sometimes damages the root structure of Centipede. There in no known practical treatment to eradicate ground pearl, but deep watering during droughts will usually offset the damage. More serious are the problems caused by insects and diseases when a lawn is over fertilized, produces too much growth, and is not cut often enough, thus affording an excellent breeding ground for diseases and insects. Avoid this problem and you can expect a trouble-free lawn.
Our standards for Centipede Seed are high. We guarantee the germination and purity to be good. We do not guarantee that Centipede Seed will produce a lawn... only you can do that.
Many fine Centipede lawns were perfected four or five months after seeding. Other plantings where the owner was equally diligent have required two years for establishment. Weed competition, soil quality, rainfall ... all these and many other factors, especially how well you plant and manage ... will determine the time required to perfect your lawn. Many buyers are at first disappointed with results. Both germination and initial growth are slow, but nine times out of ten a lawn planted with Centipede Seed will produce a turf sooner than one sprigged. Some never identify their seedlings until shortly before a turf matures. Many customers who were at first disappointed tell us they have come to the conclusion that "Centipede Seed performance is just as certain as death and taxes."