Is your turf composed of one of the warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda grass, Buffalo grass, Kikuya grass, Zoysia or St. Augustine grass? Since such grasses go dormant in cool weather, homeowners are faced with the prospect of enduring unappealing brown turf during the winter. Fortunately, an alternative exists. It is known as “overseeding lawns.”

“Overseeding lawns” is just what it sounds like: you’re sowing seed over existing grass. But the seed you’ll use in the winter is not seed for one of the warm-season grasses, but rather cool season grass like annual ryegrass or perennial ryegrass. Once it sprouts, annual ryegrass will provide you with a green carpet during the Southern winter, thriving in the cool temperatures. Just as importantly, annual ryegrass will die when summer’s heat returns, exiting in time for warm-season grasses to take center-stage again. Otherwise, it would compete with the warm-season grasses, depriving them of sunlight, water and nutrients. If you would desire a rye grass that will be heartier in the warmer weather months, we would recommend using the perennial ryegrass.

Here are some helpful tips to help overseeding this season.

Tip #1 – Time it Right If you’re overseeding with a cool season grass, do it in the fall. This season is the peak growing time for cool season grasses. For warm season grasses, think spring.

Tip #2 – Prep your SoilYou need to give the new seeds the most hospitable home possible. Remove thatch and consider aerating your lawn. Loosen the soil with a strong rake as well. This is also a great time to test your soil and amend your soil, whether it’s upping its phosphorous levels or adjusting its ph level.

Tip #3 – Mow Your Turf ShortOne of the primary reasons to avoid scalping your turf most of the time is that it opens your turf up to weeds. But the same conditions that give weeds an easy entrance also make it easy for your newly overseeded turf to take hold. You want your new turf seeds to have as much contact with the soil as possible, so scalp away.

Tip #4 – Sow Seed Heavily For turf overseeding to succeed, you need a lot of seeds! You should plan to double the seeding like you would do if you were putting the seed down on straight soil with no existing turf.

Tip#5 – Baby Your Lawn Even though you have existing turf, your new sprouts are just as delicate as a completely new turf, so treat your landscape accordingly. Put a protective mulch down, fertilize, water, water, water, and stay off the grass for a few weeks.

Here at Pacific Green Landscape, Inc. we feel that turf is the one thing that many people are drawn to in a landscape. If you have turf, the goal is to have a consistent, vigorous lawn throughout your community. With that being said, we also know that Southern California is currently in a drought with major water restrictions. If your current watering restrictions do not allow for this type of watering, it may be a good idea to look into a more Drought Tolerant landscape that uses less water. However, if your watering restrictions permit this type of watering, then overseeding is the key, as it keeps your turf looking lush and green all year long!

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