For most parts of the country spring means a return to warmer temperatures and usually some good rain storms. For the desert southwest this typically means hot temperatures and the occasional rain event. We were lucky enough to get some late season El Niño storms this month which will have a nice impact on our warm season grasses.

The transition season has officially begun and over the next month you will start to see your underlying warm season grass start to push out the winter ryegrass. The hot temperatures will start to take their toll on the ryegrass and it will start to die out. It’s not uncommon to start to see dry patches emerge in your lawn that looked perfect the week prior.

As much as it may pain you to see sections of your beautiful lawn start to die back remember this is a good thing. Sections of your lawn will always dry out before others areas simply because of the soil texture, compaction, or sprinkler coverage. It’s important to rule out sprinkler issues and if it is merely a transition dry spot rest easy. For these spots I recommend taking a hard toothed rake and rake up the dead ryegrass that lies on the surface. This dead material is shading out the bermudagrass down below and preventing it from getting water and sunlight. Keeping your lawn mowed below ¾” during this time of the year and power raking or verticutting will also help remove dead material from shading your summer grass.


Keeping your mowing height low is one of the best ways you can prevent the ryegrass from staying strong late into the season. There is no need to scalp the lawn like you do during the fall to overseed, simply lower your mowing and rake up any dead material. The next step is to give your bermudagrass/paspalum a jumpstart with some fertilizer. For bermudagrass lawns I suggest applying 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1000 square feet to the lawn using ammonium sulfate 21-0-0. To get one pound of actual nitrogen per 1000 square feet you need to apply 5 pounds of product. Simply weigh the fertilizer on a small scale in a bucket and calibrate your spreader accordingly adjusting the amount up or down based upon the amount of fertilizer used. If you have a paspalum lawn I suggest using Soil Burst 4-4-2, Milorganite, or sea kelp extracts. The Soil Burst is available from West Coast Turf and the other two can be found at most professional lawn service stores like Sprinkler World. The Soil Burst should be applied at 15 pounds per 1000 SF. Water all products in after your apply them.

Once the bermudagrass/paspalum starts to outgrow the ryegrass you know it’s a successful transition. Don’t worry if it doesn’t happen all at once or if you get the occasional problem area. This is extremely normal and with the onset of hot temperatures those voids will quickly fill in.

One of the most overlooked items during transition is overwatering. Applying too much water will give the ryegrass enough strength to hold on for a few more weeks. While this is great if you’re trying to keep it alive for an upcoming event, it’s not the best way for your grass to thrive. Cut your water regimen back by 30-40% and allow the ryegrass to thin out. Raking, verticutting, and mowing shorter will also help remove the grass but cutting the water back will speed up the process. I recommend watering no more than 3-4x a week during the transition period. Once the ryegrass is gone a watering schedule of every other to every third day for 20-30 minutes is sufficient during the summer months. Depending on your sprinkler nozzles and soil texture you may need to run longer cycles to get water down 6-8 inches in the soil. You can check this by pushing a screwdriver into the ground. This should be very easy to do after you finished watering. If it stops in the top four inches you know the lawn requires more water.

Caring for your lawn without overseed (coming out of dormancy)

Similar to overseeded turf now is a great time to give your lawn a boost with some fertilizer. I suggest an application of ammonium sulfate 21-0-0 to bermudagrass and Soil Burst 4-4-2 to paspalum. Make sure to water these products in for ten minutes after you apply them to the grass.

The temperatures are still pretty cool so you will see some growth but not enough that you need to maintain a summer watering schedule. For the next month or until temperatures reach 95 degrees consistently there is no need to water more than a couple mornings a week. The cool mornings will provide relief to your lawn and if you’re not seeing dry spots or foot prints in your lawn there is no reason to water. To test the moisture content in the leaf simply walk over the lawn and see if the grass pops back up. If you have a blue/grey tint to the lawn and the footprints are slow to respond then you need to water the next day.

Summer weeds have started to emerge and they can get out of hand quickly if you’re not careful. I always recommend staying on top of them by hand picking whenever possible and spot spraying 2,4-D when there are too many. This is will treat most broadleaves but grassy weeds such as poa annua will require other measures such as Revolver, Kerb, or Monument. For clover you need to use a product that contains the active ingredient trichlopyr. As with all herbicides it is important to always read the label first, check it twice, and follow the exact directions they provide. Too much herbicide can be very detrimental to your lawn.

You do not need to verticut or power rake until the summer but now is a good time to aerify if you have a compaction issue. Many companies will come out and aerify a 1000 SF for under $250. Obviously every city will vary for pricing but this is about average.

St. Augustine lawns

Many of you have seen your small trees transform into large, mature trees over the past few years. While they provide great shade and a nice cooling effect for your house it is very difficult to grow warm season grasses without at least five hours of direct sunlight between 8am and 3pm. If you have this issue I suggest you look at replacing those sections with St. Augustine. If you already have St. Augustine I would give it a shot of ammonium sulfate 21-0-0 and then follow it up with monthly applications of Soil Burst or 21-7-14.

If you have any additional questions please let me know.


PS… can see West Coast Turf in action this baseball season when you watch the D-backs, Dodgers, Angels, A’s, Giants, and Padres play their home games!  Yes, the MLB  loves West Coast Turf, too!


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