Overseeding Winter Lawn

Overseeded yard

Save Water and Skip your Winter Lawn

Rethink your winter lawn

Skip overseeding your winter grass this year to help conserve water and reduce stress to your Bermuda grass. Scalping, or extremely low mowing, summer grass in fall, before dormancy, prevents adequate storage of energy in the roots. University of Arizona turf scientists agree that in most cases, allowing Bermuda grass to go dormant for the winter is better for the lawn.

Letting your grass go dormant this winter is also a great time to spruce up your other landscaped areas with low water use plants. Or, to save even more water, replace your grass with xeriscape (a low water use landscape). Learn more about Chandler rebates for conserving water.

There are significant benefits to not overseeding your winter grass:

  • Lower your water bill
  • Save thousands of gallons of water
  • Save installation, maintenance and water costs
  • Save landfill space
  • Reduce air pollution

Tip

While Bermuda grass typically goes dormant in the cold months, it is possible to extend the length of its growing season and lush green appearance well into winter. The University of Arizona turf specialists recommends multiple applications of iron (2-4 oz of actual iron per 1000 square feet).

Apply the first application around October 1, the next 10 days later and follow up again after another 10 days. Do not apply nitrogen fertilizers. Remember that even dormant Bermuda needs a ½ inch of water per month during the winter (from U of A Turf Tips).

Winter is a great time to work in the yard. If you decide to forgo overseeding this year, you can use the free time for the following garden improvements:

  • Irrigation schedules. Check for leaks and adjust irrigation schedules for the season. At a minimum, irrigation systems should be adjusted quarterly according to the season.

  • Pruning. Winter is a good time to prune some landscape shrubs. Instead of regular shearing, consider an annual selective pruning to produce a more natural-looking plant that will bloom to its full potential. Wait until late February or March to prune bougainvillea, lantana, and other frost-damaged plants.

  • Planting. Fall is the perfect time to plant new areas, replace plants that have died or remove high water use plants. Planting in the fall gives roots a chance to establish in the cool months before the hot summer temperatures hit. There are many low water use plants to choose from. Be sure to select a plant that, at maturity, will fit the planting area. This eliminates the need for future shearing to make it fit the spot.

  • Weeds. Fall is a great time to get a handle on your weed problem. Application of a pre-emergent herbicide will affect seeds lying dormant in the soil. A post-emergent herbicide can be applied directly to weeds that have sprouted.

Check out the watering guide Landscape Watering by the Numbers for tips on how to water efficiently and checkout our free landscape workshopsrebates, resources for residents and more water conservation tips.

Overseeding Bermuda grass lawns with winter rye will provide a green lawn through the winter months. However, it may surprise you to know more lawns in Chandler are overwatered in the winter months than in summer.

If you are going to overseed first, ask the following questions:

  1. Will the grass area be used? Consider only overseeding areas that are used in the winter like the backyard where family and pets play.
  2. Is the lawn on a slope? Sloped areas are difficult to irrigate because of runoff. Divide a single watering cycle into shorter cycles with 30-minute intervals to allow the water to soak into the soil. Lookout for over-watering: constantly soggy areas, molds or fungi growing, or yellowing of the grass.
  3. Is the lawn in a narrow strip? Efficiently watering strips of grass that are less than eight feet wide can be a challenge. Overspray from sprinklers can hit driveways, sidewalks, streets, and cars. Consider removing grass that’s difficult to irrigate efficiently. You may quality for a rebate
  4. Do I really need to overseed or would coloring the dormant Bermuda grass work just as well? The University of Arizona has been doing trials with coloring dormant Bermuda for the winter. 

If you are still going to overseed, you can save water by properly planting your winter grass to make it more water efficient.

Steps to a Water Efficient Winter Lawn

 

Find more information on overseeding from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension

 

Information from University of Arizona Karsten Turfgrass Research Center.

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