The Q&A Archives: Grass in Phoenix, AZ

Question: We purchased our first home and the backyard was left for us to landscape. It is currently dirt. We would like to put in sod of some type, but have no idea what kind of grass to use. We have four children and need something kid friendly and easy to maintain. What would grow well in our area?

Answer: There are two main types of grass grown here in the low desert: a warm-season grass, which is Bermuda; it is sometimes overseeded for the cool-season with ryegrass in October up to mid-November. There is no grass species that can survive both temperature extremes here. However, many people install the Bermuda grass for the warm months and then let it go dormant in the winter. It's usually brown from about Thanksgiving until temps. warm up in the spring. Ryegrass does not get seeded by itself; in other words, you overseed Bermuda with rye, but rye can't be the only grass.

It's essential to prepare the soil properly before planting to have a healthy lawn for many years, and there's quite a bit of information to know about maintenance to have a good looking lawn. I recommend you read the chapter Growing a Healthy Lawn in the book Desert Landscaping for Beginners by Arizona Master Gardener Press, 0-9651987-3-1. It is the most complete and detailed information on the topic, also describing the different grass varieties, how to install them and how to water, fertilize, mow, dethatch and aerify. The book is available at the Phoenix libraries, bookstores or through the Maricopa County Cooperative Extension. Finally, Bermuda isn't installed until temperatures warm in May or mid-May, so you have plenty of time to read up on the subject! Good luck!

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