This is How the Pros Do it
Annual vs. Perennial Ryegrass:
If you plan to over seed your lawn this fall, knowing the difference between annual and perennial rye grass — and how each performs — will help you make the best choice for your situation.
Perennial rye grass has a deep-green color and slower growth habit. Even though it has the word “perennial” in its name, in full sun, this cool-season grass will fade and your permanent turf will flourish when temperatures warm and consistently reach the 90’s. In the shade, however, it may stay cool enough for perennial rye to persist into the summer. Use of a specific variety is not that critical. Most are packaged blends of two to three varieties best-adapted to a particular region.
Annual rye grass is much less expensive than perennial rye. However, it takes on a pale yellow-green color when soil temperatures cool and it must be cut more often than perennial rye grass. The best use for annual rye grass is to cover large areas and for erosion control. It may also be used as a temporary lawn while waiting to install permanent Bermuda grass or St. Augustine grass once temperatures warm. Commercial properties and landscaping contractors prefer to use perennial rye for over seeding. It is imperative that a pre-emergent not be used prior to seeding either type of rye grass, as this will inhibit the development of the seed.
The next step is to drop the mower setting a couple of notches and cut the lawn. In bermuda grass, especially, this exposes mostly stems and causes the lawn to look brown. This is more challenging to accomplish in St. Augustine grass because of its wide leaf blades, but this process is essential as it allows the rye grass seed to contact the soil, which is critical for germination.
Use approximately 8 to 10 pounds of rye grass seed for every 1,000 square feet of lawn area, being careful not to get the seed in your flower beds. Two to three passes with a drop spreader open to its widest setting will create a buffer zone. Then use a broadcast spreader to finish the seeding.
After seeding, apply a 20-5-10 or a 15-5-10 fertilizer with 50 percent of its nitrogen in a slow-release form at half-strength. Once the seed has sprouted, maintain the deep green color throughout the growing season by fertilizing at the regular rate in late November and early February (one pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.)
Once the seed and fertilizer have been applied, keeping the seed moist so germination can occur is your next objective. Water once or twice a day, 5 to 10 minutes per area, but do not let the water puddle. In three to five days, in warm weather, new seedlings will start emerging. When the new seedlings are about an inch or so tall, decrease the watering to every other day, but increase the amount of time for each area. Gradually cut back your number of days to once a week, applying one inch of water if no rainfall has occurred. November through February, check the soil’s moisture, and if the top inch of the soil is dry to the touch, irrigate.
A good mowing height for rye grass is two to three inches. It is best to mow again before it reaches a height of three to four inches. This may only mean cutting the grass every two to three weeks when the weather is cool, more often however in the spring. Timely mowing will have a positive effect on health, vigor and weed suppression.
In an over seeded lawn, weeds usually are not a major concern. Cool-season broad leaf weeds will be the main culprit and are usually controlled with an herbicide containing 2,4-d. Apply the weed control following the label directions, but only after the lawn has been mowed at least three times. Use a dedicated spot sprayer on a sunny day when temperatures are between 55 and 85 degrees and winds are light. Spring pre-emergents for Bermuda and St. Augustine grass will still be applied at their normal times of March 1 and June 1.
Planting rye grass in the fall really brightens the landscape and gives tired lawns a new refreshed look. It is especially effective for homes on the market for sale during the winter-the lush lawn makes them look appealing and well-cared for.
Question: Hi Jimmie,
I’m a beginner in gardening. I have a big problem here. I’ve just recently planted my first landscaping but it did not turn out well. Even worse, some did not even grow and 60 percent of everything I planted has died! I bought everything a nursery employee from a reputable nursery in Frisco told me did well here and went straight home and dug the holes and planted right away. Could you give me some tips regarding this matter? I would really appreciate it. Jack G. in Prosper
Answer: Hi Jack,
The best way to advance beyond the “beginner” stage in gardening is to become well-versed in the matter of soil preparation. Adding organic soil conditioners will improve that “unfertile soil” you’re working with. Things will only do as well as what you plant them in. With our soil being predominately black clay and caliche the only thing I can think of that might do well without soil amendments might be Cotton! Don’t feel bad: at least you’ve identified a potential source for the problem. Good soil is truly the foundation of successful gardening and landscaping.
Question: Hi Jimmie,
I like a lot of different plants, but as a beginner at landscape design I’m not sure how to group them. Aesthetic considerations aside, is there a rule of thumb for grouping plant A with plant B, rather than having it grow next to plant C? Thanks for your time, Macy P. in Prosper
Answer: Hi Macy,
You may like a lot of different plants, but as a beginner at landscape design, you may not be sure how to group them. There are, of course, aesthetic considerations in landscape design. That’s the fun part of landscape design. But there are also practical reasons for grouping plant A with plant B, rather than having it grow next to plant C.
Rule of thumb for practical landscape design: group plants with similar requirements together. This includes sun and watering requirements. Grouping them together will reduce maintenance for you (saving you from dragging the garden hose around unnecessarily, etc.). Until next time…Happy Gardening!!
Send your landscaping and gardening questions to Jimmie Gibson Jr. at http://www.absolutelybushedlandscaping.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jimmie is a Prosper resident and the owner of Absolutely Bushed Landscaping Company, an award winning, family and veteran owned and operated business created in 1980 to provide the highest quality custom Outdoor Renovation available to homeowners in the Dallas Ft. Worth area.