Overseeding Bermuda Grass: Why You Probably Shouldn’t Do It

Brendon Willis
Thick Bermuda grass lawn without overseeding

Bermuda grass is the most common grass type found in Oklahoma lawns, known for its resilience and lush green appearance when properly cared for. However, there’s often confusion surrounding the practice of overseeding Bermuda grass. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the reasons people commonly want to overseed, dispel common myths, and provide guidance on why you probably shouldn’t overseed Bermuda grass.

Understanding Overseeding

To begin, let’s clarify what is overseeding. Overseeding is the process of sowing grass seed on top of an existing lawn to fill in bare patches, thicken turf, or introduce new grass varieties.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In this article, we are discussing the practice of overseeding Bermuda with Bermuda. Overseeding Bermuda grass with fescue or rye grass or another grass type is a completely different practice for different purposes.

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All over the internet you’ll find advice suggesting random times throughout the year to overseed your lawn. While overseeding is a common practice for cool-season grasses like fescue, overseeding Bermuda grass is more debatable. It is a topic that raises questions and concerns among homeowners, and it’s usually not something that should be done with Bermuda grass.

Cutting to the Chase: Why You Don’t Need to Overseed Your Bermuda Lawn

Bermuda grass is a self-healing grass. It regenerates itself by sending out stolons and rhizomes (let’s call them ‘shoots’) along and right underneath the surface of the ground. These shoots work to spread, thicken, and fill in the grass naturally – so long as everything required (decent soil, sun, and water) are present.

Here’s an example of Bermuda grass trying to spread via stolons.

Bermuda grass spreading onto concrete

Point is, under the right conditions, Bermuda grass will fill in your lawn all on its own. No overseeding required.

So why do so many recommend overseeding Bermuda grass? Chalk it up to misconception. Next, I’ll tackle some of the reasons people think overseeding is needed, and why that’s usually not the case.

Common Reasons for Overseeding Bermuda

There are multiple scenarios where property owners may want to overseed Bermuda, but as we’ll see it’s usually not the best option.

Thinning Turf

If your Bermuda grass lawn appears thin or sparse, the internet may suggest overseeding to help fill in bare areas and improve turf density. However, it’s crucial to first assess the underlying reasons for thinning turf, like lack of sunlight, improper watering, soil compaction, or nutrient deficiencies. Usually, with Bermuda grass, thinning is related to too little sunlight or water. Overseeding will not fix a sunlight or watering issues.

Bare Patches

If you have specific areas of bare soil where grass fails to grow, it may seem like throwing down some seed is an easy quick fix. But again, just like with thinning turf, if Bermuda grass has existed in this bare patch before, we need to understand why it went away before we attempt to repair it. Otherwise you’re not addressing the underlying cause and you’ll just end up right back where you started — a deteriorating lawn.

Myth: Overseeding Bermuda Solves All Problems

One prevalent myth surrounding overseeding Bermuda grass is that it’s a catch-all solution for many lawn issues. However, as we saw above, that’s often on the case. In fact, overseeding can sometimes exacerbate existing problems or result in a mismatched lawn appearance.

Let’s take a closer risk of these overseeding risks.

The Risks of Overseeding Bermuda Grass

If you do decide to overseed, there are a risks to avoid and things to consider.

Lawn Mismatch

All Bermuda grass is not created equal. There are actually many types of Bermuda grass. Unless you know exactly what type of grass you have, and are able to locate that exact same type of seed, you will likely end up with a patchy or inconsistent color or texture in your lawn.

Below is a picture of a lawn with 3 different types of Bermuda grass in it.

Identifying three different types of Bermuda grass on a lawn

See the difference? How about in the following picture showing another lawn with three different types of Bermuda grass. The result is strange areas of darker and lighter lawn color.

Dark and light colors from using different types of Bermuda grass on same lawn

If you’re shopping from the big-box stores, most seed sold there is a lower quality or highly mixed type of grass. This can result in inadvertently overseeding with a cool season grass which will always look clumpy. We can see a perfect example of this below, where fescue has been mixed in with Bermuda.

Mixed lawn caused by overseeding Bermuda grass with fescue

Unfortunately, coming back from an inadvertently mixed or mismatched lawn is nearly impossible without killing the entire lawn and starting over.

Wasting Resources

Overseeding can be a waste of time, effort, and money if not conducted under the right conditions. Factors such as the presence of pre-emergent herbicides or improper timing can hinder seed germination and establishment, leading to wasted time and resources.

If you do happen to overseed your lawn, ensure that there is no pre-emergent active in the soil and that you perform it at the right time of year. When’s the best time to overseed? Ideally at night when temperatures are no less than 80 degrees. You will then need to water your lawn several times a day for several weeks until it has germinated and started growing.

For unlimited, free, professional advice for your lawn – please join Oklahoma Free Lawn Help on Facebook.

Alternatives to Overseeding Bermuda Grass

Instead of automatically resorting to overseeding, homeowners should explore alternative solutions to address common lawn issues. Proper lawn care practices, including regular watering, fertilization, mowing, and aeration, can promote Bermuda grass health and vigor, leading to natural thickening and turf improvement.

If you’re dealing with continually thinning turf or bare spots, there’s likely something else going on. If you’re at a loss on how to improve your lawn issues, you can join Oklahoma Free Lawn Help for professional expert advice on how to handle your unique issues.

What about overseeding with other grass types?

While there is very seldom a reason to overseed Bermuda with Bermuda, there are some times reasons to overseed Bermuda with other grass types such as rye or fescue.

Overseeding Bermuda with Rye

Overseeding bermudagrass with rye grass is common on super high-maintenance properties where a green lawn is wanted year-round but the normal summer grass (such as Bermuda) goes dormant and brown during the winter months. It is important to select perennial rye grass for a great, dark green appearance. It is just as important to completely kill off this grass in the late spring months so that your Bermuda can come back and live a healthy life. Perennial rye grass and Bermuda to NOT mix well.

Overseeding Bermuda with Fescue

A good reason to overseed Bermuda with fescue would be if you have a new structure or trees that have grown over the years and there’s just simply too much shade for the Bermuda. If you overseed these shady areas in the fall and spring every year, the Bermuda will just give up and the fescue can do well. It’s not recommended to overseed full sun Bermuda with fescue because the Bermuda will overtake the fescue in the heat of the summer and the lawn will look blotchy. The exception here would be if you thoroughly and completely kill the Bermuda first, and then establish a fescue lawn. Even still, fescue prefers shade and any Bermuda that makes its way in to a full-sun fescue lawn will eventually overtake the fescue.


While overseeding Bermuda grass may seem like a straightforward solution to achieve a lush and vibrant lawn, it’s important to carefully consider whether it’s truly necessary. Bermuda grass possesses remarkable resilience and natural regenerative abilities, making it capable of filling in bare spots and thickening turf on its own, given the right conditions.

Before embarking on the overseeding process, homeowners should assess the underlying causes of any lawn issues, such as thinning turf or bare patches. Addressing these issues through proper Bermuda grass lawn care practices, including adequate watering, fertilization, and maintenance, can often yield better results than overseeding alone.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to understand the potential risks associated with overseeding Bermuda grass, such as inconsistent grass growth and wasted resources. By exploring alternative solutions, and seeking professional advice when needed, homeowners can cultivate a healthy and vibrant Bermuda grass lawn without the need for unnecessary overseeding.

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