The Q&A Archives: How do I get the grass to grow back?

Question: We just rented a new property and the grass is dead. The yard is very large and it seems to be a combination of dead grass and short weeds. I'm not sure if we need to till up the old grass and plant new grass or just add new seed and water the grass until it grows. We live in Arizona and it's almost summer, when water is scarce here, should we even try and grow grass this time of year?

Answer: There are 2 growing seasons in the low desert, with 2 different types of grass thriving in each. In summer, warm-season Bermuda is the primary grass. It goes brown and dormant as temperatures cool in late fall. At that point, some people choose to overseed it with ryegrass, which is a cool-season variety. Rye dies off as temperatures heat up. Some people don't overseed, just letting the Bermuda go dormant. Without knowing exactly what's going on in your yard, it's difficult to give precise instructions. Bermuda should be coming back by now, but if it wasn't watered (if the house was empty for example), it could look "dead" but it would come back with watering. Assuming there is an automatic sprinkler system, I'd suggest watering to see what happens.

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.) Weeds are prolific here and just tilling up the area won't get rid of them. You'd have to do careful soil preparation to replant, so to familiarize yourself with lawn care and what's involved, I recommend an excellent resource, "Desert Landscaping for Beginners" by Arizona Master Gardener Press. It has a complete chapter on lawn care, including maintenance charts. I hope this info helps.

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