We already posted an article about preparing lawns in Northern climates for fall, but that doesn’t really help out folks in Southern states like Arizona and Nevada. Lawns in states like Idaho and northern Utah consist mainly of Kentucky bluegrass, perennial rye grass, etc. while Nevada and Arizona mainly use Bermuda grass. Northern grasses handle cooler temperatures well while Southern states have lawns designed to withstand the heat. If you live in Arizona or Nevada or have a Bermuda grass lawn, here’s what you should be doing in September and October to get ready for fall.
If You’re Not Over-Seeding
If you’re not planning to over-seed your Bermuda grass lawn with a grass like perennial rye, you’ll want to continue to water your lawn deeply and slowly. Don’t water as often as you did in the summer, but when you do, water for longer than normal, letting water seep a good 4-6 inches into the soil. Try to do this in the morning in order to prevent fungal growth. This will help prepare it for going without much water in the cool weather months. Bermuda grass will usually go dormant when temperatures drop in the fall. Make sure you do not aerate the grass when it’s dormant!
Over-Seeding with Perennial Rye
There’s pros and cons to over-seeding your warm-season Bermuda grass with a perennial rye. On one hand, it will help your lawn stay green into the winter. On the other hand, you lose out on the break from mowing and lawn maintenance you get when your Bermuda grass goes dormant in the winter. Here’s what you should do in September and October if you plan to over-seed.
Prep your lawn
Wait for your Bermuda lawn to be established (about a year old). Once your lawn has matured enough, you can over-seed it between the end of September or middle of October. Wait for the night temperatures in your area to consistently dip below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Stop fertilizing your Bermuda grass 4-6 weeks before over-seeding. Around the same time, start backing off on irrigation, lowering frequency and duration of your watering sessions. Then, a week before seeding, refrain from mowing at all. On the day that you seed mow the Bermuda grass down to about 1/2-1 inch high and remove the clippings.
Laying the seed
Follow the directions on the packaging when it comes time to lay the seed. You might also want to rake in the seed after spreading it. This will help it settle into the soil. After you lay the seed, cover it with 1/4 inch weed-free forest mulch, composite steer manure or grass clippings. This will keep moisture in the soil as well as protect the seeds from weather and birds. Water your lawn about 3-4 times a day for between 5-10 minutes each time. Do this for about 5-7 days, or until the seeds germinate.
Maintain rye grass
Once your rye grass starts to mature and become established, cut watering back to every 3-7 days (it may take 3 or 4 weeks to get to this point). Then in November or December, cut back watering to every 7-14 days until the Bermuda grass greens up again in May. Make sure to run the water longer than the original 5-10 minutes and let it soak the soil down to 4-6 inches. Wait to mow the new rye grass until it reaches a height of about 2 inches. When you do mow the grass, be sure not to cut off more than 1/3 of the grass’ height at a time. A good starting height is 1.5 inches. Try not to mow any lower than that until you can see that the grass has about 3-4 shoots per plant. Be sure not to fertilize until after the lawns’ first mowing with the new rye grass. After that you can fertilize every month with a complete fertilizer.
This should keep your lawn healthy and — if you over-seed — green during those cooler winter months.
If this was helpful or you have something to add, be sure to leave a comment and share this article on Facebook!