Winter Grass

Bluegrass, Bermuda grass, bent grass, buffalo grass—short grass, tall grass, summer grass, winter grass—everyone loves a yard with thick green grass!  However, if the many varieties of grass seem overwhelming, then trying to determine what type of seasonal grass to plant may be mind boggling. However, for those living in the northern region of the United States, the harsh winter weather and cold winter regions require specific varieties of winter grass (as do the South and mid-section). One such type is lolium perenne, also known as winter rye grass.

If part of your landscaping plan includes planting winter grass then be aware that perennial winter rye grass is frequently mixed with fescues and Kentucky bluegrass due to its sturdiness and ability to handle abundant foot traffic. Because of its medium-fine texture, bright green color, and ability to grow in a wide range of soil types, winter grass is often planted  in the South as an off season grass to keep the lawns green during the solder months. Winter rye grass grows rapidly with little, if any, soil preparation required. Planting winter grass is also a great way to shore up an embankment around your home. Winter rye grass could replace the well-known Kentucky bluegrass except that it does not “fan out” well, but grows in clumped sections. These clumps do not interact with each other, nor will the winter rye grass spread (or creep) about an open patch of yard because of its chemical make-up. Winter grass, however, does well in area of full sun. During the spring, the winter rye grass will be thick and green, but as the trees are covered in leaves, the shade causes the winter grass to suffer until the leaves fall and sunlight can restore the grass.

Perennial winter rye grass should not be mistaken for annual rye grass. Annual rye grass is cheaper, is quick to grow thick and green but is unable to withstand high heat or extreme cold. When you purchase grass seed, be sure to read the labels carefully as many companies will include annual rye grass (lolium multiflorum) into their mix, resulting in the consumer needing to purchase seed every year. However, it should be noted that for lawns in the South that have centipede grass, annual rye grass is recommended for over seeding and maintain winter “green-up.”

Q&A about Winter Rye Grass:

  1. What zones should use winter rye grass?
    Areas 3-9.
  2. How many days does it take to germinate?
    5-10.
  3. What is winter grass mowing height?
    3-4 inches.
  4. How much watering is needed?
    Average amounts; check with your local agricultural extension representative for the amount in your area.
  5. How much work is required?
    Winter rye grass is low maintenance.
  6. In what type of soil does winter rye grass prosper?
    Loam to clay.
  7. How strong is winter grass tolerance to insect and disease?
    Very high.
  8. When is the best time to planting winter grass?
    August to September.

A green lawn can be yours! Perennial winter rye grass can make it happen.

 
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