By now, most of you who are going to overseed your California or Arizona sod have either begun the process or have had your seed down for a few weeks. Today, I want to discuss what to do now that you have the ryegrass growing and cooler temperatures are on the horizon.

Getting your ryegrass up and growing is obviously the first step to a successful winter lawn, but what about maintenance? How can you make sure your ryegrass is strong going into the winter and you will have a full stand of ryegrass once the temperatures begin to drop into the 40’s at night? There are several key items associated with a strong winter lawn but early preparation should be high on your list.

I know you put down a starter fertilizer with your seed but let’s remember that fertilizer will move freely in a saturated soil. The new plant took up most of the nutrients from the starter fertilizer application but the residual affect is limited because you’ve been keeping the seed wet for the past few weeks. So what exactly does this mean? Basically, what I’m trying to say is that once you’ve had your ryegrass lawn in for 2-3 weeks I would advise getting a second fertilizer application on the grass.

You can use the same starter fertilizer (Soil Burst 4-4-2), 15-15-15 or 21-7-14. The goal is to establish a strong root system and to make sure your ryegrass competes with your underlying warm season grass. With temperatures still in the 90’s in a lot of areas, warm season grasses are still actively growing and will fill in any voids of ryegrass.

So what can you do if you have bermudagrass coming back full strength and taking over some of your ryegrass? Applying a growth regulator such as Primo will slow the growth of the bermudagrass and give your new ryegrass a chance to fill in. You will probably need to add a little more seed to those areas to get them established.

I know everyone is thinking what about water? How much should I be watering after I get my lawn established? For this I have to give a generic response because everyone’s timing is slightly different.

  • Week 2: 

o   3x daily 5-7 minutes per cycle

o   Mow after 14 days, make sure grass is dry when you mow.

o   No fertilizer

  • Week 3

o   1x daily in morning 10 minutes

o   Mow every 5-7 days

o   No fertilizer

  • Week 4

o   Every other day 10-15 minutes

o   Mow every 7 days

o   Soil Burst 4-4-2, 15-15-15 or 21-7-14

  • Week 5

o   Every 2-3 days 15-20 minutes

o   Mow every 7 days when grass is dry in the afternoon.

o   No fertilizer

  • Week 6

o   Every 3 days 20-25 minutes

o   Mow every 7 days

o   Fertilize with 15-15-15 or 21-7-14

What do you do for your lawn if you didn’t overseed?

You’ve decided to give your lawn a rest for the winter so let’s get it prepared. First, apply Barricade or another product with Prodiamine at 1 pound/AC over lawn. This will help prevent winter annual weeds and keep your lawns mostly weed free over the winter. This needs to be done before the middle of November before annual weeds begin to germinate.

While it remains warm outside you can water every 2-3 days for 20-25 minutes depending on the output of your system and how much water your ground can handle without flooding. Once your lawn goes dormant in mid November there is no need to water more than once every few weeks. If we don’t get sufficient rainfall over the winter I suggest one application of water every 3-4 weeks. Give your lawn a good soaking to keep moisture in the ground. There is no need to continue to water weekly over the winter unless it’s for pet urine, dust, or grass debris.

One last fertilizer application in November will give you a solid root system to handle our mild winter temperatures. I suggest 15-15-15, 0-0-20, or Soil Burst 4-4-2. You’re not going to green the lawn back up until February so don’t put down extra fertilizer hoping for a different result. If you want winter color go ahead and apply Endurant Turf Paint or a similar product for your lawn.

If you have any questions, please just hit the “Ask Jay” button at the top right of this page and I will be happy to help you.