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Rye Grass - Keep Your Lawn Green In Winter
Keeping your grass green all winter long can be a challenge. Most home owners would love to have a green lawn throughout the fall and winter, but how do you make this a reality? Rye grass is what you need to keep your lawn beautiful all year long. You have to over seed your regular grass with Rye grass preferably in the summer heat. Rye grass is also considered cool grass which also helps to prevent the invasion of aggressive winter weeds.
Perennial ryegrass is the preferred cool season grass for over seeding regular Burmuda grass lawns. Many new types of perennial ryegrass are available. These new types are fine textured and form a dense, attractive lawn. They are also frost tolerant and will persist longer in the spring, allowing time for the Burmuda grass to green up.
Carefully preparation of the lawn prior to over seeding is the key to success. In order to germinate and grow, the seed must come in contact with the soil. A dense Burmuda grass lawn will need to be lightly verticut or power-raked to remove the mat of dead grass plants, called thatch, which accumulates in the lawn. This work is best left to a professional lawn or landscape maintenance service. If you have a small lawn area you can remove some of the thatch by hand-raking with a steel-tined lawn rake.
After raking, scalp the Burmuda grass by cutting it as low as possible. Then remove the thatch and clippings. With some space opened up in the lawn, the seed that is spread will be able to drop through to the soil surface.
You can apply the seed by hand, but for better uniformity use a drop spreader or cyclone spreader. Seeding the lawn in a cris-cross pattern will also help provide a more uniform stand of grass. Whether you’re using perennial or annual ryegrass, apply 12 to 15 lbs. of seed for an area of 1,000 square feet. After spreading the seed, use a strong spray of water to help wash the seed down to the soil surface. To help retain moisture and encourage seed sprouting, fine compost or steer manure can be lightly spread over the area. A leaf rake or broom can be used to evenly distribute this top dressing and work it down through the Burmuda grass.
Keep seeds moist until they germinate and become established. This may require watering several times daily, with just enough water to keep the top 2 inch of soil wet. When the grass becomes established, watering should be reduced gradually to about once a week. During the coldest part of the winter the grass may not need water more than once every two weeks. When the grass reaches a height of 2 inches, mow the turf to 1.5 inches. Gradually increase the height of cut to maintain the grass at a height of 2.5 inches. A rotary type mower can be used, making sure to keep the blades sharp.
Begin fertilizing 2 weeks after seedlings sprout. Apply 4 lbs. of a lawn fertilizer such as 16-4-8 or similar analysis for every 1,000 square feet of lawn. After the initial fertilization, apply 1 to 2 lbs of lawn fertilizer per 1,000 square feet, every 3 or 4 weeks. If the lawn is green at the time of a scheduled fertilization, skip that fertilization.
By following these steps of over seeding now, you will be creating a beautiful cool season lawn that will last well into spring.
After the second mowing, apply one-half pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet using a complete fertilizer, such as 16-4-8, 10-10-10 or others. Apply complete, quick-release nitrogen in late winter or early spring. Pythium blight disease can be a problem on over watered, over fertilized ryegrass, especially during warm, humid weather.
An established winter lawn requires the same maintenance as a permanent lawn. Mow when the grass is tall enough to cut, about 1 to 2 inches. Mow to 1 to 1� inches thereafter whenever the grass reaches 2 to 2� inches. Make sure the mower blade is sharp to prevent ripping of the ryegrass. If ryegrass is properly fertilized, weekly mowing may be necessary. So if you want to keep up a summer time routine in the winter add ryegrass to your lawn. You will be mowing all year round but your yard will look wonderful. You will have nice green color all year long.
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