Doing Rye Grass Right

The drought has really done a number on my yard.  In order to have something more than mud and dry weeds in the yard this fall and winter, I have decided to seed rye grass.  Now I have never put out rye grass before.  So, I decided to consult an expert before I went out and spent a whole lot of money and then wasted it by doing the job wrong.  My buddy, Morgan McBride, has worked in the green industry his entire life.  For over twenty years, he has designed, installed and maintained landscapes all over the DFW Metroplex.  Since he is an expert in turf management (and he would talk to me for free) I decided to ask him the proper way to seed rye grass.

Lovely rye grass sod. Photo from the website of

The Basics- Rye grass (genus Lolium), is a cool season annual grass commonly used for lawns, livestock food, green cropping and erosion.  There are also perennial species out there but the term “perennial” is a little misleading.  In Texas, the perennial species will only come back in areas of medium to heavy shade.


Morgan recommends using a perennial rye blend. It costs a little more but it will generally give you a more even coverage.  Photo by Morgan McBride

When seeding your lawn you need to be aware of which type of rye you are going to use.  The cheapest rye grass seed are the single variety annual types.  This type of seed is sold in your nursery or big box for around $20 per 50 lb bag.  The annual type works fine but it does not germinate as well as the perennial types.  Because of this you will need to seed at a higher rate.  Also, the varieties most commonly sold in our part of the world are VERY fast growers.  So, if you don’t mind mowing every three or four days, then the single variety annual type will be fine.


Rye grass (genus Lolium), is a cool season annual grass commonly used for lawns, livestock food, green cropping and erosion control. Photo by Morgan McBride

If you want to get the best coverage possible, you will probably be better served by purchasing a perennial blend.  These blends typically contain three varieties of perennial rye.  While the price is usually around $60 per 50 lb bag, you can seed at a lower rate.  Also, with three varieties, you greatly increase your chances of getting an even germination over the entire lawn.  With three verities you will get one that will do well in sun and one that will do well in the shade.

When to apply – When Morgan was doing turf management he always had September 15 circled as the date to start spreading rye.  However, climate change has taken away the certainty of that Sept. 15 date.  For your rye grass to prosper, it needs the days and nights to be at least 20 degrees different in temperature.  This year, it is now almost the middle of October and we are still barely getting that 20 degree spread.  Also, while the rye will germinate when the day/night temperature spread is 20 degrees, it will not really “take off” until that temperature spread is 30 degrees.  Using this knowledge you can select a date that is best in your area to spread your seeds.


For your rye grass to prosper, it needs the days and nights to be at least 20 degrees different in temperature. Photos by Morgan McBride

Preparation – Before spreading your rye grass you need to do two things.  First, rye needs to come in contact with the soil.  To increase your seeds’ chances of survival you will need to mow your grass very close to the ground.  If you have a thick St Augustine lawn you will need to scalp it.  Also, germinating rye grass cannot tolerate drought of any kind.  To increase your germination rate your soil needs to be thoroughly moist.  Since the drought has been so bad this year, Morgan recommends watering deeply for one to two weeks before spreading your seed.

Application – Once you have purchased your seed, get out your spreader.  If you buy the perennial blend you are going to want to set it to apply about 10 lbs per 1000 sq ‘.  So, your 50 lb bag will cover about 5000 sq’.  For best coverage, Morgan recommends setting the spreader to put out about half the recommended rate and seeding twice in different directions.  The Heritage Ranch Turf News Blog has a great post about this including pictures.  Please check it out as well.

When using the single variety you will need to seed at a higher rate.  Set your spreader to put out about 15 to 20 lbs per 1000 sq’.  This higher rate is used to offset the generally lower germination rates of the single variety types.


Morgan spread rye grass on this bare spot in his backyard. Two weeks later the rye grass has covered the spot. Photo by Morgan McBride

Getting it established – Once you have spread your seed you will need to be very diligent in your watering routine for a couple of weeks.  Rye grass needs an even moisture level for the most successful germination rates.  If you have a sprinkler system this should be much easier for you.  Set your sprinkler to do a short cycle in the morning, noon and afternoon.  If you do not have a sprinkler system, and you cannot be home during the day, go to your local nursery or big box and buy a battery operated hose timer.  This will be the best $20 you can spend for your rye.

When rye germinates it sends out a small, curved single root spike.  This spike is called a hook.  The hook must remain moist and in contact with the soil if it is going to have any chance of turning into grass.  That is why frequent watering is required for the first two or three weeks.

Fertilization – Rye grass is often used as a cover crop for vegetable gardens because it is so high in nitrogen.  Since rye is such a good sink for nitrogen it is a very good idea to feed your rye regularly with a high nitrogen fertilizer.  While not as easy to find as it used to be, something like a 12-0-0 is a good choice.  If you cannot find a pure nitrogen fertilizer, buy the one that has the highest N value you can find.  Broadcast your fertilizer at the same rate as you applied the seed at least once a month; the more the better.  The more nitrogen you put out the more attractive your grass will be.  Highly fertilized rye will turn a deep blue green that is just as lovely as Kentucky Bluegrass.


Two weeks after planting the rye grass is firmly established. Over the next few the grass will begin to form clumps that will form a soft and solid green carpet. Photo by Morgan McBride

Mowing – If there is drawback to rye, it is the fact that you will have to mow your lawn all winter.  However, if you don’t mind doing this there is a good chance that your winter lawn will look better than your summer lawn.  Set your mower high and mow frequently.  This will turn your lawn into a deep, soft carpet that is joy to both look at and run barefoot through.

Most of Central Texas got some much needed rain this past weekend.  The temperatures are also expected to start dropping.  So, according to Morgan, this week is the perfect time to spread your rye grass in central Texas.  If you want a lush, green lawn this winter (and you are not under watering restrictions) head out to your favorite lawn supplier and get that rye now.

142 thoughts on “Doing Rye Grass Right

  1. Hi,
    I was wondering if it would be possible to use this photo of grass seed in a presentation I am doing about local agriculture.

  2. For a Sugar Land, TX winter lawn, is there a better species or blend than the rye blend often mentioned? Our home’s North side has only early and late direct sun with shade from oaks mid day, while the south side has direct, sun mid morning to mid afternoon, but early and late shade from pecans.

    • Each year seed companies release improved hybrids. However, I have not heard of any that were substantially better than what is commonly available. I don’t have a preference as to a particular brand. I generally get either what I can find in my local nursery or whatever is on sale. For the most up to date information on new varieties you might contact the Bear Creek Agrilife Extension office at 281-855-5600

      • What is a good soil mix for first time planting ? I was going with 50/50 sand soil mix. Ph 5-7 ppm
        Also will my grass look the same as the outfield at an mlb staduim?
        That’s my goal lol

        Thanks,Geoff. Vancouver. Bc.

        • That sounds like a great soil mix. The key to successful rye is water and fertilizer. If you give it enough of both of those it will look like at least as good as the fairway of a nice golf course. 🙂

  3. One other thing, if you have had issues with your rye because of the shade, you can try seeding those areas with a fesue. You can seed it just like the rye. For a more even appearance you may want to mix the fescue 50/50 with the rye that you sow around the trees. Good luck!

  4. I put out rye grass this year and my question is? If I let it seed out will it come back in fall and do the seeds need to dry before cutting ?
    Thank you
    Troy Matson

    • There are two kinds of rye that we spread; perrinial and annual. In super hot climates (like ours) the perrinial will sometimes reseed as long as it grows in shade and has ample water. Annual rye will not come back on it’s own, simply too hot. Our high heat and long dry periods kill the seeds before they are ready to germinate again. If you want to give it a try though, make sure the seed heads are completely dry before mowing. Don’t mow until you see them beginning to naturally drop their seeds.

      • Rye grass planted by seed is sterile.. as are the seeds it produces. (ie the seeds produced at the top of a ryegrass stalk will NOT grow under ANY conditions)

        • Thanks for the comment. Your response made me go and do a little research. I asked a landscaping buddy and went to the internet to research to see if rye produces viable seeds. Both sources were inconclusive. Annual rye typically dies before it can set and develop seed. On top of that, many varieties are bred to be male sterile hybrids. Perennial rye, if conditions are right, will produce lots of seeds. My landscape buddy said he felt that if any rye were to produce viable seeds it would be perennial varieties. All of that aside, I do not know of anyone that has ever tried to harvest their own seed and then replant. I think our climate is so extreme there really is no way to get rye to reseed for the following year. Thanks again for the comment.

  5. Jay,

    I’m new to the Houston area (Katy, actually) and I need some help locating a high-quality rye blend. I’ve traditionally purchased my seed from local garden centers (in central Mississippi), but I haven’t had any luck with those I’ve called thus far around Houston. I’ve found the seed, pure and blended, but not high quality varieties. In my experience, the seed from the big box stores is not up to par and I would rather not order online. Can you recommend a place around Houston (preferably on the west side) where I can purchase a high-quality turf-type rye grass seed blend? Perennial is preferred, but annual/perennial turf type hybrid blends such as TXR will work (

    Thank you,


    • I don’t know the Houston area that well. However you can call the extension office at Bear Creek. Ask to speak to a hort agent. If he is in, Skip Richter is absolutely awesome and should be able to help you. Hope this helps

  6. I am putting out rye grass on a high school baseball field for turf during our cold season in North Alabama. Anymore suggestions for this type of cover

    • I sent your question to a friend of mine. He did landscapes in Dallas for a long time. He suggested that you call John Deere Landscape in Birmingham. tel:+12059800770 They will be much more familiar with your climate,timing and variety of seed. They will of course want to do it for you but just tell them you are doing for the school and they have no money. They should be willing to help. If that doesn’t work, you can always call your local extension office

  7. Buy Oregon grown ryegrass seed. Comes in a plain white 50lb bag white green writing. Overseed heavy. I put down 150lbs on a 12000 sq ft yard of bermuda.

  8. I’ve done rye for customers for over 17 years.The information provided is extremely accurate. To take it to the next level there are two superior varieties that excel over others, Par and Eagle. If heavy traffic is anticipated we recommend Eagle, it will last longer in heat also but if desiring Rye that will transcend earlier for summer yard to grow back we highly recommend Par. Add light application of Ironite plus a controlled amount of Nitrogen to keep rye from over growing too fast monthly which is critical.

    • Thanks! I got my information from Morgan McBride. He is selling trees now but he was also a landscaper in Dallas for many, many years. I simply wrote down what he told me. Thanks for the nice comments and the excellent tips!

    • New home owner and ignorant of North Cenyral Texas conditions is asking to define controled’ amount of Nitrogen” and ‘light application’

      • Hey Jerry, this is Jay White. In my experience a controlled amount of nitrogen would be a standard application. I have my spreader set to where a 50 lb bag covers about 5000 sq’. Some people put Nitrogen out at a much higher rate. I would say what I do is controlled or average. Many of the people I talk with like to use Ammonium Nitrate (33-0-0). To me, that is a lot of nitrogen. A light application might mean putting the fertilizer out at 5000 sq’ rate but using a product that is lower in Nitrogen.

  9. I am in Arlington TX and the fall weather has tricked us again. Typical, for Texas, right. Well, my lawn guy put out Rye last Tuesday and the weather is now in the low 80’s high 70’s. It also rained very hard on Saturday.
    I have been lightly watering and am wondering if the rye will still thrive when the temperature drops or do I need to have it reapplied?

    • I think you will be ok. The important thing is to keep it moist at this point. The recent rains should help. Most rye germinates in the first few days. If you see grass beginning to happen you are fine. There is a cold front coming this Thursday. If it has not sprouted well by then you may want to have it over seeded again.

  10. Thanks much for your post and keeping up with it Jay, Well, I got a St. Augustine lawn that is very dead in sunny spots and where the dogs have run there tracks. I was planning on spreading perennial rye that I got at HD box store. can I just rake up the dead and bare spots and throw the seeds down? then water, water, water? I’m down in the Helotes/SA area. Thanks again.

    • That is exactly what you need to do. The rye really needs to come in contact with the soil. I would water the area good before spreading and then, like you said, water, water. This cool front that is coming through will make a great weekend to get it out. best of luck!

  11. Awesome information. I just moved into a house in Austin with large mature trees and dirt, no grass, underneath. I was planning to seed it with rye for the winter and then sod with zoysia in the spring. I really need to stop the erosion from the heavy rains Austin has received in the last few weeks. Will rye do okay under large burr oak and bradford pear trees, or should I seed fescue? Also, do I need to aerate before seeding?

    • First, no need to aerate. Just make sure the seed comes in contact with the soil. Since you said the yard was bare that shouldn’t be a problem. If you use a perenial rye blend it should be fine under the trees. If you are going to use a single variety of annual rye you may want to spread fescue under the trees. These cold, wet days are a perfect time to get it out. Best of luck and let me know how it goes!

    • Do not mow rye until it has thawed. Luckily it thaws quickly. While mowing when it has a frost my not kill it completely, it will definately set it back.

  12. I am in Frisco, Texas. Is it now too late to put rye grass? I intend to put on Tuesday Nov 19 and the temperature high is going to be in mid 60’s all week.

        • You can put any type of high nitrogen fertilizer on it. I don’t know how much area you have to cover, but the recommended application rate is 60-80 pounds per acre. Well fertilized rye is a great source on protein. However, you need to be careful not to over fertilize. Rye is “a nitrogen sink”. That means it accumulates nitrogen in its tissue. If you over fertilize it is possible to raise the nitrogen levels in the rye to a level that can be toxic to horses. Also, keep the horses off of the rye for a week or so after application. Rye needs to be at least 6″ high and well established before you allow the animals to graze it.

    • Yes. I don’t know the brand but perennial rye is fine. You can plant rye anytime there is a 20 degree spread in daytime and night time temps. However, be aware that perennial rye will not be perennial down here. Unless it is in deep shade our high temps are going to kill it.

  13. I am looking to overseed in Temple (central Texas) this weekend. The temps are gonna range from mid 50’s to 80’s. Is it too early?

    • This weekend will be the best time we have had. It is supposed to be cool and rainy. If it starts drying out and warming up just be diligent with your watering for the first week. That is the critical part.

    • It should. If your sand is supporting other grass (or weeds) it will support rye grass. Just be diligent in your watering. If you are worried about feeding it you could put out a high nitrogen fertilize once the grass becomes established.

          • I found the best way you can get your winter rye to pop (germinate) scap your yard below debris off, then vertic cut the yard. depending on the size of your yard use a drop spreader around flower beds then seed it with broadcast spreader. and when I get it established I’m putting a light application of ammonia nitrate then water it if I won’t to go greener an mow 2to3 times a week I will go with a nother heavier application. I think this will be the last year of overseeing. I’m going to smoke it out an sod my yard with Empire Zoysia.

          • I agree that stripping the grass and debris is the best way to ensure maximum germination. Witht he effort you are putting in you will definately be rewarded with a beautiful lawn!

    • I would wait until the grass looks thick and well established. This usually begins to happen when the grass is around 6″ high

    • If it was stored out of the heat it should be fine. Even if it did get hot a whole lot of it will still germinate. If you are not sure wheter it was stored properly or not just seed a slightly higher rate

    • Depends on what you want to achieve. There is no need to bag it. The clippings are good for the soil. However, if you have a compost pile the clippings are very high in nitrogen so you can add it to the the pile to get things cooking.

  14. I live outside of Houston and have a new home with lots of dirt and little grass. Can anyone tell me what specific perennial rye to buy and where? Need fast germination to help with erosion. Heard good things about Futura 2000/3000 but really have no clue. Plan on seeding with Bermuda in spring.

    • Mike, have you called your local extension office? They should be able to tell you what is working best in your area. If you live out west call Texas AgriLife Bear Creek Extension at 281-855-5600

  15. I live in Charlotte, NC. Now the temps here average from 40 overnight to 60s during the day. I seeded 2 weeks ago without mowing the yard short and to my surprise the annual rye took off. So, I got the bright idea of mowing it short this past weekend and throwing another 50 lbs out on 1500 sq ft. Yes I’m aware I did that in reverse order. Now I’m worried that I cut too short too soon and I’m late on the second seeding. How bad did I mess up?

        • If you put it out then I would not fertilize again. Give it a week and see how it goes. Your temperature range that you mentioned really is about perfect to get it established. I really think it should be ok as long as you didn’t scalp it.

  16. I have just successfully planted an annual rye yard. I have been told that the annual rye is a temporary grass and needs to be replaced in springtime. Is it true that the annual rye will die in the spring. Tampa FL

    • Probably. Rye is a cool season annual grass. While different varieties die at different temperatures, sustained temperatures in the 80s will begin to do it in. To try and avoid this some people put out a perennial blend of rye grass. These mixes generally have three or more varieties of rye grass in them. Some of these mixes take the heat better and last longer than annual rye grass. My suggestion would be to call your local extension office or a commercial landscape firm and ask them for specific brands or formulations that have been proven to last in your area.

  17. Is it too late to plant rye for this season? I’m near San Antonio and I was thinking that after this current cold snap I might spread some, but am just curious if it is too late. Thanks!! Great info I will definitely use for next year!

    • It is all gonna depend on the weather. After the freezing temps pass on Tuesday the following week will be good conditions for germination. If we have a couple of weeks of mild temps (40s-60s) it should establish well. Just know if we get a hard freeze right after germination you are going to lose it. Tough call. If you have the seed I would put it out and see what happens.

  18. I moved in country near SheridanTx in a month ago. I have beautiful trees and no grass, just dirt. I want to start spreading the rye grass seeds but which month is best start?

    • Generally Sept 15 through Oct 15 is the best time. However, you can spread it now. The main thing is it needs lots of moisture (like we currently have) and a 20 degree spread between daytime and night time temperatures. When you say you have a lot of trees it makes me wonder how much shade they give. Rye requires full sun. If you have too much shade it will definitely affect the germination and coverage. I would call your extension office and ask them what they think about a grass for your area

  19. Hi Jay,

    Thanks for all the information. We live in the North Dallas area and have a few very large live oak trees in our sloped front yard. Because of erosion we are needing to add quite a large amount of dirt before seeding. I’m planning on seeding perennial rye and hoping that because of the deep shade it will last all year long. Will the seed take quickly enough before erosion of the new dirt occurs? Should I trim my trees this fall to let in a little more light to help the seed establish? Will the falling of the leaves this fall and winter prevent the grass from growing? Hoping to find something to help with our dirt front yard!

    • I think you have a good plan. Perennial rye will do well under your shade trees. However, unless you are very lucky with the weather, it probably will not make it all year. It just gets too hot. As for your non-shaded areas I would recommend putting out an annual/perennial rye blend. As a general rule the annual rye germinates and establishes much faster. I would also recommend trying to get it out and established before your trees start to lose their leaves. If established, it can survive leaf drop (as long as you rake). If the grass is still germinating at leaf drop the leaf cover can interfere with the seed becoming established.

  20. Im doing a rehab of a house. The lawn is all crab grass. Ive killed the lawn and need a temp lawn during the fall and winter. Afterwards, I will seed with zosiya. Around what time in Texas is a good time to do the seeding over rye? Will the zosiya take if I detatch, aerate and water like crazy?

    • The rye will begin to die once temps stay in the 90s. If you cut the rye really close to the ground you should be able to overseed the Zoysia. I have never put out Zoysia by seed. However I talked to a friend that has done it quite a bit. He suggests seeding heavily by putting the seed out in one direction and then going over the lawn the other way.

  21. Jay White I’m out in the Lake Lavon area. This is close to Plano. When do you think the temps will be right for spreading seed? I know after looking at some forecast we should see the low 80’s to high 70’s. Just did not know when I’m pushing it on temperature. Thanks!

    • Also I plan to do Zoysia. Looking at zenith emerald or zeon. I can’t tell which would work best. mostly sun partial shade and hand water my lawn. I do not have a irrigation system put in place yet.

      • Are you going to seed or sod? If you are going to do seed an irrigation system would be helpful. While zoysia is drought tolerant once established, it takes a lot of water to get it established

        • Sorry I should have been more specific on seed. I have annual rye grass seed to use as a temp lawn. I will be overseeding bermuda when temps drop down in october. Then next summer when I may or may not plant Zoysia. So are we going to see cooler temperature enough for me to spread the rye seed or think I will be pushing it?

          • I think the rye will be fine if you spread it now. It does not look like there is much rain in the forecast for next week so just be sure and water the heck out of it.

    • Right now is a weird time. I would be watching the rain forecasts more than the temperature spreads. If you can plant just before the rains come, the seeds will germinate. If you have a bunch of bare ground, and you are in a hurry to get it covered, I would buy a blended mix and spread 1/2 now and then spread the other 1/2 in a couple of weeks. Then keep it well watered for two or three weeks. If you are not in a rush I would wait another couple of weeks and do it all in a single application.

  22. Great stuff, thanks for sharing your knowledge. I live in DFW and have put out annual rye on my bermuda lawn in the past…. The green of rye grass in the winter is a thing of beauty, but it never really got truly green until late winter/early spring. I had been told not to put out rye until temp hits freezing, now I see that I was misinformed. I will spread this week.

    • Looks like a good week for it! Night time temps are down and we have rain in the forecast. Once it is well established, fertilize with a high nitrogen fertilize. It will start to thicken up and green up almost immediately.

  23. Hi – thanks for all of the great info! We live in central Houston and planted rye grass seeds about 1.5 weeks ago. My husband nicely prepared the ground but raking up our burnt/dead St. Augustine, tilling and applying top soil. We’ve been watering twice a day. A lot of the seed has germinated and is growing, but we have patches that have not grow in yet. When Is it okay to apply more seed to those areas,? And, what about extra seed in the areas that have germinated to get a thicker grass (looks a bit sparse in places…maybe the birds got to some of it?)? Can we go ahead and overseed now, or do we need to wait to see if more seeds germinate?

    My husband is worried about ‘crowding’ the seeds…is that an issue for rye grass?

    • I would go ahead and reseed now. Especially if you are using a single seed variety of annual rye. In the light spaces, apply seeds at half the rate you first applied. In the bare areas hit it hard again.

  24. We live in the Bastrop area. Clay soil on an incline & steep ridge. We just put out our rye grass today. Then we put hay over the seed. Will the hay prevent the rye from growing? We thought it would help keep the grass & seed in place during the next rains expected later this week.
    Thanks for your help.

    • Depends on how deep the hay is. Rye grass needs light to germinate. You did pick an excellent week to put it out. While rye will definitely germinate and grow on city water, there is something about rain water that really makes it pop. Please check back in a week or so and let me know how it went.

      • Rye grass growing nicely! We are happy with our decision to add hay. Hay built a soft padding under the grass. And seeds did not wash over our ridge during rains.
        Thank you!

  25. I have enjoyed reading your blog over the past year. I had a question regarding ryegrass seed. I live in coastal AL, so our temps are right now 70 high and 50 low. I seeded about 2 weeks ago and I think I waited to long before the first cut also I think I cut it when it was too damp. It grew to almost 6 inches in about 10 days so I decided to cut it to 4 inches. Well the grass that my lawnmower wheels went over went completely flat and also where I was walking so I have a large area of the yard that is completely tall flat grass laying over. We also had a large 2.5 inch rain soaking yesterday so the grass is pretty wet now and also made most of the yard flat. I’m guessing I have let it get way to long.

    Should I wait for it to dry out and then cut down to 1 or 2 inches and then just reseed it? I fear I may have been to careful of the initial growth stage and now have ruined it to the point of starting over since I let it get to high in lenght. Thanks for any Advice!

    • You cut it at the right time. I think the problem was the rain. I would let it dry out for a few days, if possible and see if it stands back up. I would also throw out some high nitrogen fertilizer to encourage it to keep growing. Let me know what happens.

      • Thanks for the info. I put out some high nitrogen when I spread the seed, I think thats why it grew so fast. I was just worried that I ruined the yard by not cutting it low enough the first time and then it all laying flat.

  26. We’ve had a pretty mild winter so far. I have been occasionally watering my lawn just with my hose and attached to a sprinkler sitting on top of my lawn. I am however beginning to wonder if given how warm it has been recently if I am safe to use my sprinkler system now and not have to worry about my pipes freezing as I winterized them in the fall. What are your thoughts do you think we’re safe to go ahead and use our main sprinkler system? I am in the temple area.

    • Hey Derek. My apologies. i just now saw this comment. According to weather stats there is a 90% chance there will not be a freeze after March 15 in your area. Based on the warm weather I would take the chance on firing up the sprinkler system. While there is technically a chance of a freeze it would be very unlikely for the freeze to be cold enough to damage the pipes and valves.

  27. Back again! Ha you know what i’m about to ask. So Weather this year was a crazy one for me. Mega hail storms and lots of rain. Temps have cooled from the 100s to 80s. The end of the month looking good for overseeding? I usually over seed with pennington Annual Ryegrass Grass Seed. Any benefits to Perennial Ryegrass Blend over the annual? Did not know the germination times and temp tolerance between the two.

    Ps. Rye turned out well last winter.



    • Glad you did well with your rye last year. Perennial rye is a misnomer. All rye grass is an annual. However, depending on your climate, “perennial” lives a little longer than “annual”. Both grasses behave in a very similar fashion as to germination requirement. However, perennial rye generally has a much higher germination rate than annual varieties. That’s why it costs more. It also is more slow growing than many of the annual varieties. Because of this you will have to mow it less often. With that said, know that the end of the month is looking good. Don’t remember where you live but if you are in the Dallas area you might even be ok if you put it out this weekend, especially since it is supposed to rain.

      • Are you familiar with Pro Tour perennial rye blend? I can’t find information on it. It comes from OR or Justin, TX I believe. I can’t find what the “blend” is.

      • Thanks for the detailed reply your awesome best source I’ve found. Yes I’m north of Dallas up in Collin county lake labor area. I love to mow and I know sounds little weird. It’s very therapeutic to me. I know the temps are still hitting the 90s will it hold up with the heat well. I was thinking that I can do one pass. then in a couple of weeks do another. Should I hold off another week? I still need to scalp the Bermuda or start lowering my mower each week. then I usually spike the ground before seeding.

        • I think you are wise to wait. It will germinate in the heat. However, you have to be very diligent with the watering for the first two weeks if you put it out while it is still hot. And I don’t think liking to mow is wierd! My wife is the same way! She mows our 2 acres with our John Deere riding mower. However, her favorite thing is shredding pastures with the big tractor. I am so thankful she does all of mowing. Gives me more time to garden

          • Sounds relaxing :). Yes I hand water my yard I have no sprinkler system. about .25 acre lot. So my schedule for watering is every other day I will water once in the morning once in the evening. I might buy few sprinklers to water quickly since I water everyday for the first week and I try to take advantage of rain for assist. I’m young at 26 purchased house at 22 so my lawn knowledge is amateur. So right now im lowering my mower each mow collecting lawn clippings. Just spiked my yard last weekend after rain. Going to do another 1/8 top dress following the over seeding. i’m hoping 2 more weeks to start the overseed. going to scalp on last mow. Thanks Jay!

    • Yes, I live in Brenham. A calendar is a very good idea and I would love to do one. Problem is finding the time. This blog and gardening stuff is just a hobby. However, I do think a calender/schedule is a good idea. Should start working on it on the side.

      • I can help with it if I can let me know. Not sure if you have my email. If you need my email let me know. I was thinking about creating a basic site for it.

        • If you want to work on a calendar that would be great. If it is something I think would benefit others I would be happy to give you credit and include it in the post. The goal is to make the post the best, most comprehensive article on the internet.

  28. This weekend looks very promising in the DFW area for Rye over Seed.
    Wed 9/21 94°/70° 0 IN 0 IN Lots of sun; warm, less humid 87°/64°
    Thu 9/22 93°/73° 0 IN 0 IN Sunshine and very warm 86°/63°
    Fri 9/23 92°/74° 0 IN 0 IN Mostly sunny and very warm 86°/63°
    Sat 9/24 90°/72° 0.36 IN 0 IN Partly sunny with a t-storm 86°/62°
    Sun 9/25 77°/65° 3.27 IN 0 IN Heavy rain and a thunderstorm 85°/62°
    Mon 9/26 76°/58° 0.6 IN 0 IN Showers and a heavier t-storm 85°/62°
    Tue 9/27 80°/58° 0 IN 0 IN Nice with sunshine 85°/61°
    Wed 9/28 81°/63° 0 IN 0 IN Mostly sunny 85°/61°
    Thu 9/29 84°/62° 0 IN 0 IN Chance of a shower 84°/61°
    Fri 9/30 85°/61° 0.02 IN 0 IN Turning cloudy 84°/60°

    should I mix the seed with top dressing to keep the seed in place for rain?

    • Depends on the slope of the land. If it is pretty level you do not have to put out anything unless you think there is going to be heavy rains that cause running water. Remember that rye needs light to germinate so use binding that allows light to get to the seed

      • My yard has some good slopes to it. Thanks. Sunday is looking like heavy rain so I might do a light dusting of some black cow dressing to give the seeds some grip. I will touch back after the weekend. 🙂

    • If you have sandy soil, or any soil with a low pH, you can add lime. I personally have never used it. Ryegrass does best in soils with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Most of the clay and silt soils in the river basins of Texas have a pH in that range. If you have grown it in the past and it did well I would guess that your pH is fine.

      As for milogranlite I say go for it. Rye grass loves nitrogen. In fact, the more the better. I have a friend that uses ammonium nitrate (approx 34% N) on his. I have not used milogranlite but I have used other organic lawn products and I have been very pleased with them. If you feed about every six to eight weeks with the organics you should get some very thick, pretty rye.

        • My favorite is called Sweet Green by Nitro-Phos. It is an 11% N and is made from beet and cane molasses. However, there are a ton of great products out there. Nitro-Phos sells a lot in Houston. The milogranite you mentioned also sounded good. Basically you want the highest amount of nitrogen you can get. Anything with over 10% N in an organic is good.

  29. Update: Seed is already germinating and sprouting! I will have to check the sunny spots to see, but we had alot of rain last few days and I did a lite water last night. For anyone in the DFW area If you seeded 23rd-25th Sept. you should see your seeds germinating and I call it the “tail” from the seed is digging its way into the soil. Happy winter mowing. 😉 If not might need more water or more nutrients.1/8 inch top dressing makes a difference.

  30. Hi Everyone!

    I am in Mansfield and I just finished putting down my winter rye this afternoon. I have done this every year since about 2005 when I bought my first home. All through college, I worked in commercial landscaping and the majority of our accounts would overseed in the fall. We always put down the Double Eagle Perennial Rye Seed and that is what I have always used when I overseed at my residence. It has always done a great job germinating in Bermuda and St. Augustine and provides a nice, lush dark green grass. Most of the Annual types will grow very quickly, which was mentioned above, but the Annual will also look different in color compared to Perennial rye. The Annual seed tends to have a very light green color versus the dark green I mentioned above. Depends on what you prefer…and the Annual seed is much cheaper in cost. With this Texas weather I hope it all starts germinating well…every year I’m always worried I put it down too soon and we are gonna have a spike in the heat! Will update in a few weeks. Thanks for all the great information!

    • Thanks for the great comment. I feel you on the unpredictability of our weather! I think this year has been fair. While the temps have been milder they are still pretty warm and we are not getting the rain when we need it. Hope the temps fall soon and we start getting a couple of showers a week. Best of luck!

  31. I just purchased 7 bags of the Diamond 3 way perennial for $100.00 per bag. I think I am overpaying for winter rye. Our home sits in the middle of our wedding venue on 5 acres. The grass must withstand large crowds and a lot of walking and look full and plush all winter when we are doing tours for upcoming Spring weddings. Also, we have 27 stations in our sprinkler system. There is no way we can run it 3 times a day. What is your best recommendation for a sprinkler system that normally runs 20 minutes a station 3 times a week.
    We appreciate your opinion.

    • Once a day should be fine as well as long as the temperature is not too high. Why I recommend so much water is to ensure that the little “root” or “tail” that emerges from the seed at germination needs to stay hydrated. If it dries out, it will die. If your seed starts germinating when it is very hot and dry (or wind) you may want to hook up a sprinkler for three or four days to ensure the best germination possible

        • It is hard to say. It is not unusual to see the perennial blends selling in the $100 per 50 lb bag range. Just remember, the perennial blends have a much higher germination rate. So, to get the same coverage with annual rye you could realistically expect to have to buy three bags. Even if you got them for $35 a bag, the perennial would still be cheaper in the end.

  32. Hello Jay,

    I have recently over seeded with rye 10 days ago, I live on gulf coast. Temps have been around 80 so the grass has really taken off. It is already almost up to 6 inches. I was wondering how long I need to wait to cut after seeding. I didn’t want to damage by cutting to soon, but didn’t want to wait to long so it will flatten out because its so long. Thanks!

    • Alex,

      I live in the DFW area. I’m not a pro so i’m sure Jay will have better advice. I usually cut mine when it hits 4 inches. first cut I take a quater inch off. I do this because i’m giving the slow growers a chance to catch up. Then on my second cut I will cut it down to 3.25 inches. I will tell you if over seeded with annual I would do a second seeding if it looks thin. You can still mow after second seeding. I cut with a bag first time to catch clippings and use it as coverage in the weak spots. After first mow I usually overseed again by hand in the thin spots. Second mow I cut with out bag and no side shoot. less likely for seed to move around and clippings will help coverage and feeding the lawn. Hope this helps.

      • Arod,

        Thanks for the help. It is annual grass. I was waiting for some of the other spots to catch up to others. I plan on overseeding again right after I cut it for the first time to make sure its covered well. My main concern was cutting the new grass since its only been 10 days since the seed went down.

  33. I laid sod recently, it is Bermuda overseeded with Rye and looks great, i have noticed some areas thinning slightly and some yellowing blades.Is this normal? Will these areas fill in? I read that this grass does not spread so do I need to overseed these areas? Thanks!

    • Before over seeding I would hit the thin/yellow areas with some nitrogen and then water every couple of days for a week to ten days. With the lower temps and the cool front your rye is going to really take off in the next couple of weeks.

  34. We live in south East Texas, Jasper area, and are looking at planting rye grass for our mini donkeys. We bought the annual kind and will be using a sprinkler to keep moist. Each section of the yard we have will be closed off to keep the seeding and germination safe from hungry faces. How long should we wait before allowing them back into each section?

    • Most of my questions are about when to mow rye grass. This is a new one for me. I did a google search and talked to a couple of friends and the consensus seems to be let it get at least 6″ high before letting them graze. Thanks for the question!

    • It is far too late to use “weed control” fertilizer. Don’t waste your money on it now. Right now, apply a fertilizer that is as high in nitrogen as you can find.

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