In other parts of the world, winter lawn is a concept that is not really understood, as they fight snow, sleet, and ice and their winter lawns are brown and hidden under a blanket of snow. In the Phoenix metropolitan area, however, winter months are the ones in which we play outside the most, and when we do so, we also want pretty grass to complete the picture of another perfect day in paradise! And because winter rye is not just for golf courses, this guide to keeping your yard lush, green, and welcoming through the final season of the year will give you great satisfaction as you pull into your driveway every day of the week!
First You Prep for the Arizona Winter
Unlike your regular grass that comes back to life after being dormant each year, your winter lawn will need to be reseeded. The first two weeks in October are the optimum times for this but the rule of thumb is whenever the nighttime temperatures stay below 65 degrees on a consistent basis. If you are reading this now, it has been a warm October so you may still be able to get your green if you start prepping now! Start by cutting down your existing lawn by lowering the blade to about ¼ to ½ and inch. If your yard is extremely thick, you may need a power rake which can be purchased or rented at your local home store, but however you get there you need your lawn to be cut down to a stubble with some bare earth showing. Once your yard is ready, it is time to start overseeding. The amount of seed you will need varies, but on average a residential yard can take approximately 12 pounds of rye seed per 1000 feet; who knew you would one day be happy for the smaller lot sizes of Arizona properties?
Next Comes the Smelly Part
If you have lived in Arizona for any length of time you probably already know what we are about to talk about next! Once you have laid the seeds, it is time to ensure they grow and that is achieved by layering over top a thick and stinky layer of fertilizer! Starter fertilizer (a 6-20-20 or 15-15-15 mix of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium)is what you need here, especially as you haven’t started watering yet. Follow the directions on the bag as to how much you should use and how to best spread this eye watering combination. This next step, applying mulch, is optional but should be considered if you do not irrigate or are not able to water the 4-5 times daily in the beginning stages. It also should be considered if you waited too long to overseed and the temperatures are too cool and spreading about 1/8 inch over your entire yard will help the germination process.
Watering Your Winter Lawn
Living in the desert we can pretty much always be assured that rain will not fall and as such, you will need to water your winter lawn 4 to 5 times per day (if you don’t have an irrigation system) and since most of us aren’t able to spend almost 2 weeks (10 to 14 days) running out to water our grass 4 or 5 times a day, an automatic sprinkler system will definitely come in handy. The biggest expense will be installing pipes and sprinkler heads, but the automatic waterer is relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Today’s systems even come with apps you can run through your phone, turning off the scheduled watering if by some miracle rain does fall! After the first two weeks, watering only needs to be done every other day, until the temperatures start to rise again. That spring period before your dormant grass comes to life and the rye grass dies out will require nightly watering when the temperatures are lower.
Basic Lawn Care
From this point on, taking care of your winter lawn will involve the same steps you take in the summer. Mowing the grass can begin at 10 to 14 days after germination, depending on how long you like your grass to be; if you prefer longer you can actually wait up to 21 days after germination, just be aware that your HOA might have something to say about that! Regular nutrition is needed about once a month, ensuring that the grass will stay dark green and healthy until it reaches its natural conclusion!
This Is the Best Time
Fall and winter bring such joy to our hearts and when your yard reflects that joy, the entire world shares in your happiness! If you want an Arizona winter lawn but aren’t sure you are able to put in all the work, give us a call at New Image Landscape and Pools and let us do the work for you! Call us today!