Well it is mid October, and as we all know that means–overseeding season!  It’s what we Mid-Westerners call the “best time of year,” and the best time to look at grass.  We all know how beautiful the ryegrass looks during the winter months, but let’s take a step back and touch on how to get the perfect lawn in Arizona…..

Many people still subscribe to overseeding as it’s been done for 50 years, but that doesn’t mean it is the healthiest technique for your lawn.  There are a few changes we can make to make it better.

  • Let’s talk about the scalping and verticutting (power raking is OK) to get the grass prepared the season. As nighttime temperatures drop to the 60’s it is ideal for the ryegrass to start popping with the least of amount of competition from your summer bermudagrass. The first step in the process is to cut back on your watering, and dry your lawn out for a couple days. I know you’ve heard before that you need to turn the water off for a couple weeks, but all you’re doing is hurting the underlying bermuda. Now that the grass is dried out a little you will want to make your first scalp cutting about 1 notch below your current mowing height. Ideally you are around 1 inch to 1 ¼”. You will then lightly verticut in two directions to open up the dense stand of bermudagrass, and allow the seed to penetrate down into the plant. As you look down you are probably wondering where all this material came from on the ground, but it is okay as long as you are just lightly tickling the plant and not getting down into the soil and ripping out the bermudagrass. To clean up, mow at your current height and then drop your mower to the next notch below. You will want to be ready at this point with the grass at a height of ½ “ to 1” depending on your mower settings. You don’t need to scalp the grass down to the dirt to achieve your goal of a perfect lawn, it is more dependent upon opening up the plant with the verticut to allow the seed into it.
  • Now that the lawn is clear of debris and clippings you will use 10 lbs. of perennial ryegrass seed (we recommend what we use–“BOBSeed” ryegrass seed) per 1000 sq. ft. of lawn. The best way to apply the seed is at a half rate two directions with a broadcast spreader for the middle of your lawn, and a half rate two directions with a drop spreader for the edges of your lawn. After the seed is down it is a great time to put down that starter fertilizer to ensure quick germination and help the seed bind.  A good starter fertilizer is a product such as 6-20-20 or 18-24-12 (you can find several different types but these are a couple that I like).

The next question is always, “How do I keep my lawn this green throughout the year?” It’s all about the preparation and follow through. Two weeks after the seed is down put down a second fertilizer application such as 15-15-15 to push the growth of the plant.  I know—you’re reading this thinking it’s a lot of work, and we haven’t even got to the most important part–WATER!! You will want to set your sprinklers to run 3-4 times daily for about 5-7 minutes to keep the seed moist and allow for the best germination. This process takes about two weeks and then you can switch to your normal deep watering of every 3-4 days or as necessary per the grass condition.  Here is a link to help you “Use Water Wisely” (http://ag.arizona.edu/azmet/phx/).  You can also e-mail me for advice on how to water your lawn responsibly for your specific situation (click “Ask Jay” at the top right of this page).

Just before we get a frost (usually around Thanksgiving or so) apply a third application of fertilizer such as 21-7-14 or calcium nitrate to get optimal health and a dark lush lawn before our so called “winter months” set in. The winter months tend to take away some of our ryegrass color so it’s always nice to have some iron on hand to apply as a foliar spray to keep your lawn green through our cold period.

I’m sure you are tired of me going on and on, so I can tell you the overseeding process is now complete.  It’s time to get back to Michigan Football (this is what you should be doing on a Saturday in the fall and save your overseeding for Sunday when that “team” called the Cardinals plays, and you should be outside enjoying the weather!).

If you read this and realized, “Man that’s a lot of work!” then just buy our overseeded sod.  We’ve got some gorgeous BOBSod and EZ-Turf available now.  I’ve put some pictures in for you to view below so you can know you’re getting a high quality product from us.  It’s the best way to make your neighbors “green with envy!”

Well that’s all I have for this week.  Please feel free to click on the “Ask Jay” button to your top right if you have some questions of your own.


P.S….. Find us on Facebook under West Coast Turf/Western Sod, and follow us on Twitter @ www.twitter.com/westernsod and www.twitter.com/westcoastturf.