Winter Lawns in AZ

Julie Lemerond September 18, 2015

Arizona’s climate is one-of-a-kind in the United States.  We deal with the hottest summer temps, and milder winters that are snow-free (which is the reason so many of us chose Arizona, right?)

But caring for your lawn can be just as much effort as those in other parts of the country who have harsher weather conditions than we do here.  Since our summer weather is so extreme, we use two varieties of grass to keep our pretty lawns a pretty green.  Bermuda grass is grown in the summer, Perennial or Annual Rye is grown during the winter. 

Bermuda grass is the tough stuff - it can handle those 115 degree summer days, and then lies dormant in the winter months, still alive underneath the Rye.  But come early to mid-October, it’s time to introduce the Rye with overseeding, so that you can keep feeling the grass between your toes throughout the mild winter months. 

Here are some tips for ensuring that the grass is greenest on your side of the fence this winter!

* There is a window of opportunity to do your overseeding, usually early to mid-October, when temps start to drop into the 60s in the evenings.  In preparing for the overseed, skip mowing for at least two weeks, then start by scalping your Bermuda grass - meaning cut it as low to the ground as possible.  This sets the stage for the overseeing to occur.

* Next, spread your ryegrass seed according to the directions on the package of seed.

* Use a spreader or a rake to spread the seed evenly - one trick is to overseed in a crisscross pattern across your lawn in order to best distribute the seed evenly.

* Afterwards, fertilizing the seed is essential - there are a variety of fertilizers on the market.  Make sure that the one you use is complimentary to the rye grass you are planting, as not all of them are.

* And finally - your new Ryegrass seed is thirsty!  Quench its thirst with watering it 3 or 4 times per day for 5-10 minutes at a time.  You should see some growth within a week.  Continue this process for a few weeks and then start to ease up on the irrigation.  Once the grass is fully established it will only need to be watered once every week or two throughout the rest of the season.

While having a well-maintained lawn looks nice, it also uses a lot of water which is quickly becoming a limited resource in our world, especially in this part of the country.  Here are some tips to cultivate a green lawn while also staying as eco-friendly as possible to this precious resource:

* Grass that is too short uses more water, so keep your grass cut high

* Water at night or very early morning (before sunrise), to keep evaporation to a minimum

* Dont water after a rain

* Wondering if your lawn needs water?  If you can stick a screwdriver easily into the ground, you can skip watering.  If the ground is too hard to accept the screwdriver, time to water.