The temperatures are climbing and the phones are ringing with people seeking advice on how to properly transition winter ryegrass back to summer bermuda grass.
Dangers of Home Remedies
You may be tempted to try a number of “home remedies” like turning your water off for a week to dry the rye grass out. However, you will be cutting off the water supply to the hybernating bermuda grass.
The wilting rye grass may cause you to think your lawn isn’t getting enough water, so you increase the water supply. This can nurture the rye grass and make for a more difficult transition period.
Completely scalping your lawn can not only kill the rye grass but your bermuda grass as well. Then nothing will spring up from your lawn.
7 Steps to an Effective Spring Transition:
An effective spring transition is achievable if you adhere to the following steps:
Step 1. Monitor your local temperatures. Once nighttime temperatures start exceeding 65 degrees on a consistent basis (typically late April/early May), it’s time to start the spring transition.
Step 2. Reduce your watering to 70-80% of your normal usage. This will start stressing out the rye grass but will continue to support the bermudagrass.
Step 3. Lightly verticut your grass to open up its canopy. This allows more sunshine to reach the bermudagrass below.
Aeration and Mowing
Step 4. Aerify your ground. Aeration is the process of breaking up hard pockets of soil. This increases water penetration and nutrient uptake, breaks up soil compaction, and allows more oxygen to reach the root zone. Most home supply stores rent verticutting and aerifying equipment.
Step 5. Gradually lower your mower settings and increase your mowing intervals to twice a week so that the grass height does not exceed 1/2″ to 3/4.” Make sure to bag all clippings. If they remain on the ground, they’ll create a mat layer that will inhibit the growth of the bermudagrass. Use a rake to collect clippings if needed.
Step 6. Beware of shady areas in your lawn. The ryegrass will grow aggressively in these area so you must maintain a low mowing height to allow the bermuda grass to get its needed sunlight.
7. Fertilize and increase your watering schedule. After about 2 weeks, you should notice that the bermudagrass is overcoming the ryegrass. Broadcast a balanced fertilizer (i.e. 16-20-0) at a rate of 9 pounds per 1000 square feet and increase watering back to a normal summer watering schedule.
Letting the Rye Grass Grow
If you allow the ryegrass to grow unchecked, it will out compete the bermudagrass. When June comes with its Arizona heat, the ryegrass will finally die and you’ll be left with nothing but bare spots. To avoid that, follow the 7 steps listed above: you’ll have a summer lawn the whole neighborhood will envy!