You might have noticed that the temperatures have been in the high 90’s in Arizona, and have even hit the 100’s in California!  No one wants to see that in late March unless you’re a sod producer or looking to get your warm season lawn to green up. While it is great for lawn color, it is still too early to know if this weather will stay or if we will get a minor cold snap. If we were assured that the 90’s were here to stay I would tell you to really start pushing your warm season turf, but it is best to ease into the season until soil temperatures reach 64 degrees.

Either way, transition time is upon us and it is time to start easing into the summer grass season. For people with non-overseeded turf this weather is great news for their lawn, and for others transition can bring a few headaches. I have outlined some simple steps to help you get your lawn to go from ryegrass to bermudagrass without any anxiety.


Here is a step by step process that can be implemented into everyone’s program over time. Please note that I will be drying down the sod at the farm to help aid in spring transition. It is not ideal to provide lush ryegrass at this time of the year that will shade out the bermudagrass. Some people fear putting down an overseeded lawn at this time of the year, but there is no need to worry. The roots of the ryegrass actually help the grass knit into the ground quicker, and as the temperatures warm up the ryegrass easily transitions out. You don’t want to buy sod with 3” ryegrass, but we keep our turf at ½” to ¾” at this time of the year so it makes for an ideal transition without any fuss.

1. Gradually lower your mowing heights to reduce the turf canopy. Warm season grasses are not shade tolerant and excess ryegrass provides shade. No need to scalp the lawn, just lower the height down and begin to thin out the grass.

2. Lightly verticut the lawn to open up the canopy and let sunlight into the grass below.

3. Be careful of fertilizer rates at this time of the year, and stick to slow release products such as Soil Burst 4-4-2, 11-52-0, 6-20-20, or 21-7-14. You want to put a pound of nitrogen per 1000 SF down when you make this fertilizer application. The first number on the bag is nitrogen and it is listed as a percentage. For example the 21-7-14 is 21% nitrogen. A typical fertilizer bag weighs 50 lbs so 21% of the 50 pounds is nitrogen. In other words you have 10.5 pounds of nitrogen in a 50 lb bag. Since the goal is apply one pound of nitrogen you would use the following formula:  1 pound of nitrogen / .21 (percentage of nitrogen on the bag) = 4.76 pounds of product per 1000 SF will yield 1 pound of nitrogen.

4. If you have standing water it is a great time to aerify so you can help air and water better infiltrate the soil.

5. Increase your mowing frequency to two times per week.

6. Gradually back off the water this month to stress out the ryegrass when soil temperatures reach 64 degrees (usually around mid April). Turning off the water completely will stress out the warm season turf and ryegrass so this is not the optimal approach. Use 60% of your normal water rate.

7. When soil temperatures reach 64 degrees apply Soil Burst 4-4-2 at 20 pounds per 1000 SF to give the grass a jump start on the year. A second option to this is to use ammonium sulfate 21-0-0 at 5 pounds of product per/1000 SF.

8. Fertilize with 1-2 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 SF monthly over the summer. You can use any combination of the products I listed above as well as several others to help you achieve your goal of a perfect lawn. For a more accurate analysis on other nutrients you can send soil samples into a lab for results.

Once you’ve followed all of these steps you can set your irrigation to run 2 to 3 times per week for 20-30 minutes at a time. If you can’t water for 30 minutes without getting runoff it is okay to break it up into a cycle/soak.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me.  Just hit the “Ask Jay” button at the top right of this page, and I will get back to you.

Happy transitioning!