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To Overseed or Not for Winter Lawns?

To many, having green grass year-round is thought to be beneficial. In the desert, Bermuda grass grows spring through fall and becomes dormant in the winter. In the late fall, some folks choose to overseed with ryegrass to produce a temporary winter lawn. Much money, time, and effort goes into establishing and keeping winter lawns. It turns out there are many benefits to forgoing winter lawns while giving your Bermuda grass the rest it needs.

When Bermuda Grass Is Overseeded with Ryegrass
Overseeding with ryegrass prevents Bermuda grass from completing its life cycle of storing energy prior to its winter dormancy. When the weather begins to heat up in springtime, the Bermuda grass, lacking in energy, has difficulty reestablishing itself.

If Bermuda Grass Is Not Overseeded with Ryegrass
Bermuda grass can stay green until the mid-November, and then it goes dormant. You can expect Bermuda grass to start actively growing when it warms up sometime mid-March. Without competition from ryegrass, Bermuda grass can recover from winter dormancy quickly and efficiently.

Overseed Only Specific Areas
Overseeding does not have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Overseeding for winter lawns could be kept to high-traffic or high-visibility areas while leaving low-use areas dormant.

Reduced costs for labor, seed, fertilizer, and water will result in significant cost savings. Check with your landscaper to find out which costs are associated with winter overseeding. It is estimated that watering 1,000 square feet of winter grass takes about 8,000 gallons of water each season. Please see rates & fees for water to estimate potential dollar savings.

Sign of overwatering winter rye lawn

Mushrooms are a sign of
overwatering.
If you choose
to overseed, our Landscape
Watering bythe Numbers

brochure will help you
become water efficient.

Costs and Benefits

If you do not have a separate meter for landscape water use, your sewer fees may go up as a result of winter ryegrass irrigation. In Scottsdale, sewer fees are based on water usage during the months of December, January, and February.

Beyond the Pocketbook
Stop overseeding and you can enjoy the benefit of cleaner air and less noise pollution from mowers and blowers, reduced runoff from fertilizers in the landscape, and less green waste going to the landfill. Deciding to forgo winter lawns not only demonstrates your commitment to the environment, but it’s easy on the pocketbook.

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