Winter Rye to Bermudagrass

How to regrow bermudagrass after your winter rye has run its course.

Spring is here and the temperatures are, for now, perfect! There is nothing better than Arizona in the spring, cool enough to be comfortable while being beautiful and green, as close to lush as a desert can get. This time of beauty and comfort is always short-lived, in fact, it’s only long enough for the valley’s vegetation to prepare for the brutal heat of the summer. Your lawn, however, doesn’t self-regulate so it’s important that you make the changes needed to keep your yard beautiful and livable in the upcoming months that define the desert.

Replacing Your Winter Rye

As soon as the nighttime temperatures are consistently above 65 degrees, it’ll be time to phase out your winter rye and re-vitalize your bermudagrass. It’s important to note that if you scalped your bermudagrass properly and over-seeded with winter rye correctly last fall, your bermudagrass will still be there and alive, dormant and waiting for revival. In order to bring it back, you will need to:

  • Scalp your winter rye
  • Decrease water
  • Fertilize

Cutting Down Your Winter Rye

Mow your winter rye down lower and lower until it’s about ½ its usual length, this will expose the dirt underneath it. The blades of grass insulate the ground from the heat of the sun, and now we want that heat to get through. The dormant bermudagrass roots need heat in order to grow and the current ryegrass roots wither under heat, this is the first step in your lawn’s transition.

Cutting Back Your Water

Ryegrass needs cool weather and constant water to remain green and healthy. If you stop watering your grass for about 5 days, your short, overheated rye grass will die, that’s exactly what we are after. Bermudagrass needs less water and more heat than ryegrass, its roots will take advantage of the moisture and won’t die out by the lack of regular water.


As grass grows, it draws nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium out of the ground and uses it as food. Using a high ammonium sulfate fertilizer, you can weaken the rye grass’ hold while strengthening the bermudagrass’ control of its resources.

In May it might be a good idea for you to have your lawn aerated. Aerating is a process where a machine pulls plugs of dirt out of the ground. The holes allow water, oxygen, and fertilizer to get to the roots of your grass. It also loosens up the density of our clay-based soil, allowing roots to spread further and thrive.

We at Green Keeper hope you enjoy your yard and the cool weather of this spring, and If you need help keeping your yard green, we are here to help.

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