Do you want the look of a beautiful, green lawn all year round without all the challenges of keeping Tall Fescue looking good in the warm south?
The combination of TifTuf Bermuda overseeded with winter ryegrass could be perfect for you! As TifTuf Bermuda starts to go dormant in the fall, the ryegrass will begin sprouting and will stay green all winter. Then as TifTuf starts to green up in the spring, warm temperatures and low mowing will kill the ryegrass – leaving your beautiful TifTuf to thrive all summer.
Photo taken in the winter by Stephen Raiford, one of our turfgrass experts at Super-Sod of Charlotte, NC. Read our blog post about why we recommend TifTuf overseeded with rye as a good wintergreen lawn around a pool.
There are two keys to achieving this look: A TifTuf Bermudagrass lawn mowed by a robotic lawn mower.
While other Bermudagrasses can be overseeded with perennial rye, TifTuf is more robust and transitions better out of dormancy in the spring.
This TifTuf overseeded with ryegrass is looking good at the Super-Sod sales office in Charlotte, NC.
Perennial ryegrass is still growing in the spring and brings these challenges:
- Roots of the ryegrass compete for resources at the same time as warm season lawns need them to come out of dormancy.
- Ryegrass leaves also compete for sunlight and shade out the turfgrass.
This extra load is too much to handle for most warm season turfgrasses as they transition out of dormancy, but TifTuf is aggressive enough to green up while the perennial ryegrass is dying out from the warm temperatures (provided the rye is kept low in height – more on that next).
We recommend using perennial ryegrass to overseed, not annual rye. The annual type is good for temporary erosion control, but it's not the best type for overseeding because it requires higher mowing and often contains weed seeds.
Do not overseed Centipede or Zoysia lawns because they cannot cope with ryegrass overseeding. They simply don’t transition well during spring green up and you’ll find you have damaged your lawn.
How a Robotic Mower Benefits Overseeded TifTuf
Your robotic lawn mower isn’t just for summertime. It can run all winter, taking care of mowing your overseeded ryegrass, saving you time while running on clean electricity.There are many reasons we love robotic lawn mowers. When we discovered how they help overseeded TifTuf during spring green up, we became hooked on the combo. Due to the constant low mowing of the robotic lawn mower, perennial ryegrass is kept low during spring green up, so that it can die out without hurting TifTuf when it starts growing again.
With other Bermudagrasses, such as Tifway, perennial rye can be overseeded, but you must spray a selective herbicide in the spring to kill the rye so that the warm season lawn can begin growing properly.
However, with the combination of a robotic lawn mower and TifTuf, there is no need to spray out the ryegrass with chemicals. The robot does the trick and gives TifTuf the space it needs to green up.
The best time to overseed is in the autumn. Keep in mind that you cannot overseed your TifTuf if you’ve already completed a fall application of pre-emergent. But you can plan for next year!
5 Easy Steps to Overseeding your TifTuf:
- Lower your mower setting by 1 increment to cut some top growth off. This opens the canopy to allow the seed to reach your soil. Don’t lower it too much – you don’t want to scalp the lawn. One notch should be enough.
- Blow off any grass clippings, leaves or debris that might be on your lawn.
- Spread your perennial ryegrass at a rate of 7-8 lbs. per 1,000 square feet.
- Make sure your passes with the spreader are even and try to eliminate overlap.
- Overseed in the morning before it gets windy. Rye seed is very light so we recommend you stop overseeding with rye when the wind speed gets up to 4-5 mph. If you need to, pause overseeding while windy and start it again the next morning.
- Apply 5-10-30 starter fertilizer at a rate of 10 lbs. per 1,000 square feet.
- Water well to keep your seed constantly moist until it germinates (5-7 days) and then continue to apply enough water to keep the small seedlings hydrated.
Maintain a healthy ryegrass lawn by keeping your mower at the normal height setting through the winter. Keep leaves off your lawn by blowing regularly, but not too hard since you don’t want to uproot your new seedlings.
Keys to a Successful Transition In Spring:
- A few weeks before the last frost, mow the ryegrass down to one inch.
- Mow, mow, mow… keep the ryegrass cut nice and short to allow sunlight to reach your TifTuf so it can start waking up and greening up.
- Be patient as you will have a period during the transition where your lawn might have a “splotchy” appearance, but your TifTuf will rise to the occasion and begin to take over.
- Wait until the TifTuf is almost fully green to apply your first treatment of fertilizer. Apply 16-4-8 at a rate of 6 lbs. per 1,000 square feet.
So what are you waiting for? The sight of a robust, green lawn will perk you up, come winter. The little robotic mower doing all the work will put a skip in your step too. You can achieve this look with perennial ryegrass seed from your local Super-Sod.
If you’ve been considering the switch to a TifTuf lawn, our sod farms grow TifTuf sod overseeded with perennial rye. It’s available during the fall and winter months. Simply specify you’d like the overseeded TifTuf and it will be harvested to order for pick up or we can deliver it to you.
Topics: How-To, lawn from seed, Seeding Best Practices, Fall, TifTuf Bermuda, robotic lawn mower, ryegrass