The Q&A Archives: Sod

Question: This past fall I layed sod in my backyard that was a Rye/Bremuda Grass combo. The Rye Grass is a good winter grass here in Arizona and the Bremuda Grass is a summer grass. With the temperatures starting to heat up how am I suppose to treat the lawn so that the bremuda grass starts to grow? Right now the rye grass is starting to dry out in patches in the yard. Also this winter when things cool off, what treatment is needed to get the rye grass to grow again?

Answer: Spring lawn transition starts when temperatures are 60 degrees F or higher for 5 nights in a row, which usually is late March. At that point, gradually start mowing the rye lower with successive mowings. Don't remove more than one-third of the blade with any mowing as it strips the plant of its ability to photosynthesize. With reel mowers, the mowing height should eventually be one-half inch; for rotary mowers, 3/4 inch. This will allow sunshine to reach the Bermuda and allow it to start growing. Continue normal watering. Some people mistakenly believe they should stop watering to "kill" the rye, but this is not acceptable as it may kill the bermuda as well. Water should penetrate 8-10 inches deep for bermuda. (In winter, water needs to penetrate only 4-6 inches because rye has a more shallow root system.) Fertilize once per month with a lawn fertilizer. An excellent resource for low desert lawn care is "Desert Landscaping for Beginners" by Arizona Master Gardener Press. It has a complete chapter on lawn care, including maintenance charts. Send another email to the Q&A in the fall with the condition of your bermuda and we can provide details on overseeding. Good luck with your lawn.

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