Save Water and Skip Overseeding this Winter
Join the movement. Go blonde this winter.
How? By skipping overseeding and letting your grass turn a golden blonde naturally. A decision to reduce or eliminate the overseeding process will conserve water, save money and is better for Bermuda grass.
The City of Chandler is not requiring a reduction of overseeding, but we are asking both residents, business owners and HOAs to consider temporarily limiting or forgoing overseeding of non-essential turf areas this fall.
Why is skipping overseeding better for grass? Scalping (extremely low mowing) summer grass in the fall before dormancy prevents adequate energy storage 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 going blonde for winter:
- Save as much as 12,000 gallons of water this winter and lower your monthly bill
- Avoid the expense of grass seed and fertilizer
- Save time and money on installation and maintenance
- Save landfill space and reduce air pollution
While Bermuda grass typically goes dormant in the cold months, extending the length of its growing season and lush green appearance well into winter is possible. The University of Arizona turf specialists recommend 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), however you may get that from rainfall. A simple rain gauge will help you know if you still need to water after a rain event.
Winter is a great time to work in the yard. If you decide to skip winter lawn this year, you can use the free time for the following 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 workshops, rebates, 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:
- Will the grass area be used? Consider only overseeding areas that are used in the winter like the backyard where family and pets play.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Find more information on overseeding from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.
Information from University of Arizona Karsten Turfgrass Research Center.
Rethink Your Winter Lawn
Source: Water Use It Wisely
Skip overseeding to save water, money, and time
During a historic drought, changing climate, and Colorado River shortages, one simple but impactful way to save water outdoors and be part of the solution is to skip overseeding (planting a winter lawn). To help promote this initiative's importance, AMWUA cities are providing information on the benefits of not overseeding this winter to their residents.
10 Reasons to Convert to Xeriscape
Source: Water Use It Wisely
Maintaining an attractive, healthy lawn is not easy in our desert climate. While bermuda grass (our summer-active turf) is drought and heat tolerant, it still requires a great deal of time, resources and energy to keep it looking good. If a year-round green lawn is desired, winter rye grass needs to be seeded each fall, creating more work and requiring more resources to maintain it properly. Convert to Xeriscape and reap the benefits.