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Winter Grass

Lawn Care
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One of the best grasses to use for winter grass is lolium perenne, also known as winter rye grass. Winter rye grass is an annual—it lives for one season then dies out. Winter rye grass must be reseeded every year. It is used to create a green lawn in the winter by overseeding an existing lawn. When overseeding with rye, cover the newly-spread seed with compost or peat moss. Water daily, keeping the soil most, so that the winter grass germinates.

Winter rye grass can be mixed with other types of grass seed, including Bermuda or centipede. It is often used for winter hydroseeding. The winter rye grass comes up and the warm season grass remains dormant until the spring. When the winter rye grass begins dying out, the warm season grasses will be well-established.

Winter Grass Controls Erosion

Winter grass also helps to control erosion, because it establishes so quickly. It takes only about three weeks for it to establish. Even though winter rye grass establishes quickly and stays green throughout the winter, it is not a year-round grass. It is temporary—an annual, and does not usually come back the next year. Though rye grass is a winter grass, it may not stay green in the northern climates of the United States.

High Maintenance Requirements

Winter grass is a grass that has some of the highest maintenance requirements. It is not drought tolerant, so it needs to be watered often and regularly. This can pose a problem in some southern states that have watering restrictions. It also needs to be mowed more often than any other grass, as it is a very fast-growing grass. It will need to be mowed twice per week.

Vulnerabilities

Winter rye grass is susceptible to pythium, rhizoctonia and fusarium wilt during the fall—these diseases affect new seedlings. During the spring, leaf spot, dollar spot and rust are problems for winter grass. When using winter rye grass for winter greenery, fungicides should be sprayed on the established grass.

General Characteristics

Winter grass is cold-hardy to zones 3 through 9. It takes five to ten days to germinate. Winter rye grass should be mowed to a height of 3 to 4 inches. It will grow in many types of soils—from loam to clay. It has a high tolerance for some disease and most insects and should be planted no earlier than August and no later than September.

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