Soon your lush green yard will become an off yellow, tan color as the temperature cools and grass goes dormant for the winter. The trade off for the dull looking grass is it rarely needs any maintenance until spring. Well with the right type of rye grass you can get a very vibrant green yard and still not have to cut it during the winter. Sounds great right? Well here's what you need to know.
Pick the right rye grass seed
There are hundreds of different types of rye grass seed that fall into two main categories: annual and perennial. Luckily there will be between two to six choices at your local hardware store, making the decision easier on you. Annual rye grass will have to be replanted every year while perennial rye grass will reseed itself and come back on its own. Annual rye grass does perform better in warmer temperatures. Perennial has better shade tolerance than annual. In my experience, it takes around three years of seeding perennial to see it look consistent on its own. My opinion is to choose a low growing annual rye grass.
Spread it out at the right time
Rye seed needs to go out either in late September or early October depending on weather. The temperature should regularly be between 68 degrees to 77 degrees. Heat kills rye grass, so be sure to not put it out too early. Rye grass also dies in very cold weather, but that shouldn't be a problem in southern Louisiana. Be sure to not put out a weed preventative herbicide before your grass has started to grow. Also, try to rid your yard of weeds before applying seed. Not only will it look better, but the grass will have less competition for soil nutrition and sunlight.
How to put the seed out
Usually the bag of seed you purchased will tell you what setting to put your wheel based spreader to for optimum coverage. It is best to use a standard wheel based spreader so you get even coverage across your yard. Also, it is very important to keep a consistent speed when pushing the spreader or there will be patch results. You don't want part of your yard to look great while patches look like they were missed completely.
Most spreaders throw seed forward and to one side. Have the seed thrown away from both landscape beds and cracks in your concrete. Wherever the seed lands, you will have grass growing in the winter. Water your yard when finished.
Rye grass care
You will need to keep your yard watered, every other day, for a little over a week to allow the rye grass to germinate properly. Be sure to do this in the morning so your yard has time to dry out. Rye grass does not need much water beside rain after the germination period. In fact, excess watering will cause your rye grass to rot and can also promote fungus growth.
While the temperatures are great for germinating rye grass, they are also perfect for fungus as well. Applying a preventative fungicide used when applying the seed will do wonders for your yard. Not only will it protect your rye grass, but also your warm season turf.
If you choose a rye grass that grows tall, you will want to keep it below 2 inches to avoid turf disease throughout winter. I would recommend choosing one that doesn't grow that tall. It will just be so much easier to maintain. Now all that is left is to enjoy having the nicest looking grass in the neighborhood all winter long.