The Q&A Archives: Planting Grass

Question: I live in area 8B can you tell me what is the best grass to plant that will survive the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter?

Answer: If you live in a desert region like Hesperia, there's virtually no chance that your lawn will look nearly as beautiful in the winter as in the summer. There isn't a grass type in existence that can handle that significant a change in climate.

The solution that many lawn owners in desert climates turn to is overseeding, the practice of planting a specific winter lawn right over the summer lawn. Let's begin with your summer lawn: Bermuda would be the turf of choice. As a notorious sun lover, Bermuda grass, one of the most popular grass types, but it goes brown when not in the summer sunshine.

To overcome this, you can overseed with perennial rye grass. The first crucial step in the fall (or when the weather gets cool) is to "scalp" the summer Bermuda and to prepare it for its resurgence next spring. This is the time to aerate your lawn (getting rid of accumulated older grass known as thatch) and to fertilize and treat any diseases and brown spots that may have affected your Bermuda grass.

Once Bermuda maintenance has been satisfied, leave your lawn alone for two weeks. This includes watering. Just let the shortly cut summer grass lie for a while.

Once that's over it's finally time to seed. Using a push or hand spreader, apply one to 1 1/2 pounds of seed for every 100 square feet of yard. Apply in a checkerboard pattern first, then diagonally to assure coverage. Add an extra layer for the birds.

Then, to keep the seeds moist, apply a layer of compost or fine mulch, spreading it out evenly with a rake.

Now watering is key. For the first week after seeding, water the lawn for about seven minutes three times a day, but never after 4pm as nighttime watering invites fungus. When the lawn is nearly 2 inches high, mow about a half an inch off. Your winter lawn should be on its way.

In the spring, when the weather warms up, the perennial rye will go dormant but the Bermuda grass will come back to life. Repeat this overseeding every fall and you should have a thick, lush lawn throughout the year.


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