Should You Overseed With Ryegrass?

Ryegrass Photo From Pennington®

Although it is still too early to overseed your lawn with rye grass for the winter it isn’t too early to make the decision whether or not to overseed.  What is overseeding – sewing annual or perennial rye grass seed on top of your existing warm season grass.  As your warm season grass becomes dormant the cooler season rye grass will stay green throughout the winter months.



Over the years this has become much less popular due to the additional work involved to maintain a winter grass and the problems it can create for your warm season grass.



First things first – the additional work maintaining rye grass involves mowing through the winter months.  If you want a reprieve from mowing or paying for that service, then skip overseeding your lawn.  In addition to mowing you should fertilize your rye grass monthly (October – January).  You will also need to water the freshly sewn seed daily through the germination process and after the grass is established apply supplemental water when rainfall is less than 1 inch per week.



The type of warm season grass you have will also dictate whether you should overseed or not.  All research points to NOT overseeding St. Augustine grass and also discourages doing so if you have Zoysia or Centipede lawns.  Bermuda is the grass that will fare best if overseeded.



Overseeding can cause problems for your warm season grass.  If your lawn is not healthy then overseeding will add to it’s problems.  If the spring is cooler and wetter than normal the rye grass will not die out before your warm season lawn begins to grow.  The 2 grasses (rye and the warm season grass) are competing for the same space to grow, the same water and the same nutrients which will weaken even healthy grass.



With all that being said however, a well sewn rye grass lawn with it’s bright green color brightens up any winter day.  The decision to overseed is one that needs to be thought out keeping in mind the type of warm season grass you have, it’s current health and how much work you’re up to.  I don’t mean to discourage you from overseeding, only present facts that might be helpful in making your decision.

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