To maintain a green grass year round we recommend overseeding your summer lawn with a cool season perennial ryegrass. We recommend perennial ryegrass because it has a darker color, thinner blade, and requires less maintenance. Ryegrass in any variety will not come back the following winter. Overseeding must be done each fall in order to have a green lawn during the winter months.
If you choose not to overseed your lawn, the grass will merely go dormant through the winter months and re-emerge in the spring. Dormant grass must be watered at least 45 minutes twice a month. This ensures the life of the root system of the dormant grass. If no watering schedule is maintained for dormant grass during winter months, severe damage to the root system will occur and the grass could possible never recover.
During the winter months, your Bermuda lawn will become dormant and turn yellowish in color. If you want your lawn to be green during the winter months, we recommend overseeding with Perennial Rye grass. The recommended amount of seed needed is 15 lbs. per 1,000 sq. feet. We recommend planting your rye seed within two weeks of purchase. If you have any leftover seed and want to store if for the next year, keep it in a cool, dry area. If the rye seed is stored in a hot storage shed and used the next year, it may not germinate at all.
To prepare your lawn for overseeding, we recommend verticutting, power raking or using the lowest setting on your lawn mower. This process will reduce the thatch and help assure seed contact with the soil. Seed may be hand broadcast, or spread with a drop spreader. Spread half of the seed in one direction, and the other half across the path of the first, to ensure even distribution. If your lawn was treated with pre-emergence weed killer in late summer, the pre-emergence residue may also prevent development of the rye grass.
Seeds must stay moist in order to germinate. Some form of top dressing, such as peat moss or forest mulch will help hold moisture. The recommended amount is 1/4 to 1/2 an inch deep. Watering should be applied in frequent light sprinklings. Flooding could float the seeds away.
During the first 7-10 days, the soil surface should be kept moist. Water the area 6-8 times a day at 5 minutes per cycle. After 10 days, watering should be gradually reduced to 2-3 times a week. Check the soil moisture content with a long screwdriver. If the screwdriver goes in easily and comes out damp, no water is needed. If you have standing water, cut back on your watering! After your Rye lawn is established, we recommend watering 20-30 minutes at least twice a week.
The recommended mowing height for the perennial rye grass is 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Mowing should begin when half or more of the area has grown past the selected height. Your winter lawn should be mowed once a week for maximum health and color.
It is best to provide only sufficient fertilizer to maintain vigor. Use 1/4 to 1/2 lb. of ammonium phosphate 16-20-00 per 1,000-sq. ft. of lawn every three weeks. This is the maximum amount that should be applied.
SPRING TRANSITION TO BERMUDA GRASS
When night time temperatures are consistently 70 degrees, warming begins and dormant Bermuda grass begins to emerge. To have a more seamless transition from the Perennial Ryegrass to your Bermuda grass, we recommend the following steps:
LOWER YOUR MOWING HEIGHT
This takes away leaf area from the rye, which causes the rye to use up food reserves in the roots. This is known as burning out. It will also open up the canopy for direct heat absorption, which favors the Bermuda grass by warming up the soil. Again, don’t panic when you see burnt grass. It is just the rye burning itself out.
A light application every 3 weeks of ammonium sulfate fertilizer is recommended. This fertilizer application will weaken the rye grass in addition to reviving the dormant hybrid Bermuda.
This is optional, but highly recommended. Renting a machine that extracts core samples, in intervals, is the best method. Poking holes in the soil compacts the soil and does not achieve the desired results. This process should weaken the rye by drawing more heat to the soil. This encourages the hybrid Bermuda grass to emerge.
As the nighttime temperatures rise to 70 degrees plus, we recommend that you change your watering schedule from 2 days per week 3 times per day, to 3 days per week 3 times per day. Usually 10-15 minutes per cycle is sufficient, depending on soil conditions and sprinkler heads.
Note: Shaded areas will notoriously hold on to the rye, sometimes even in the heat of mid-summer. Often there is poor Bermuda in these areas because of the shade conditions. Also, low-lying areas that remain wet will hold the rye. Aerifying and applying gypsum will help with drainage and aid transition. Also,
take time to get your lawnmower ready by changing the oil, cleaning the filter and sharpening the blade. Good running equipment is a must! Following these tips will make the transition from winter grass to summer grass easier and will avoid the unsightly, burned-out appearance.