Winter Rye Grass Lawn Care in Arizona

You may think grass is grass, but your lawn would likely disagree. Grass, just like people, has different personalities; depending on the type of lawn you’ve installed – and the time of year you’re caring for it – you may need to adjust your approach to achieve an optimal outcome.

Rye grass is a great choice for Arizona lawns in the winter

Rye grass is a great choice for Arizona lawns in the winter if you’re looking for a lawn that stays green all year long. Winter rye grass—when coupled with a summer grass, such as Bermuda—will take on new life when the temperatures drop to more moderate conditions during the chillier months.

Here are a few things you should know when it comes to caring for your rye grass lawn this winter season:

Arizona Winter Rye Grass 101

Unlike Bermuda grass and other breeds of blades, winter rye grass doesn’t just go dormant when it’s not in season; it can’t survive the summers. Because of this, it needs to be replanted each year. Ideally, winter rye grass is replanted each October, which allows it time to settle in and take roots before its summer grass counterpart goes into hiding. Typically, when it’s properly cared for, winter rye grass will stay thick, lush, and green well into May (or until temperatures regularly sustain 100 degrees in Arizona).

It’s really all about timing. If your plant your winter rye grass too early, the Arizona heat can bake the seedlings, rendering them useless. If you wait too long, the seeds won’t have enough time to germinate and grow healthy before your summer grass starts re-growing. Although the optimal time to plant your winter rye grass is in October, you should see positive results as long as the weather stays warm enough to keep the seedlings healthy.

There are two types of rye grass—perennial and annual—each of which has its own characteristics and benefits. Perennial rye grass tends to be more expensive, but it’s often favored because it

  • Germinates faster
  • Has a finer leaf texture
  • Produces a darker green color
  • Tends to be more resilient
  • Doesn’t produce as much grass stain

On the other side, annual rye grass tends to be a more affordable option that still provides beautiful winter lawns for Arizona residents.   Annual ryegrass is less favored because it uses more water, and grows much faster than perennial ryegrass – meaning more grass clippings to deal with!


For established lawns, the amount of watering depends on the weather conditions. For optimal results, follow this watering schedule:

  • November & December: Every 3 to 7 days
  • Remainder of the Season: Every 7 to 14 days

After a winter rain, you can shut your water off for one or two cycles. Be sure not to over-water your lawn, as too much water can prevent your seeds from germinating and growing.


It’s important to choose the right fertilizer for your lawn. Too much or too little of an ingredient can throw off the balance of your blades, impeding their growth or causing them damage. Feed your rye grass monthly with an analysis such as 21-7-14 or 22-3-9 for best results.To facilitate a positive growth process, do not fertilize your lawn until you’ve mowed it for the first time. Be mindful that too much fertilization can cause rapid growth and a buildup of excess thatch, both of which can create more work for you. If you don’t fertilize enough, however, you’ll likely be left with a yellowish lawn that lacks the results you were looking for.


Mowing is a strategy in and of itself. Heed these tips for the healthiest possible rye grass winter lawn:

  • Keep it mowed around 1/2″ to 2″
  • Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf
  • Do not mow until rye grass grows 2″ tall

A note of caution: Be careful not to scalp your winter lawn. Cutting the grass too short reduces its ability to photosynthesize properly. When this happens, the roots become susceptible to drought because they stay shallow and close to the surface, which can be devastating in our Arizona climate.

It’s important to maintain proper leaf lengths to stimulate deep root growth, which allows your lawn access to moisture that’s deeper beneath the earth’s surface. Because rye grass is not a spreading grass that comes from the likes of stolons or runners, a super short mowing strategy can cause your lawn to experience dead patches that overtake your front or backyard.

Your mowing frequency will depend on how quickly your grass is growing. Rye grass typically grows fairly quickly, so you may have to mow more frequently than you do with summer grass, but the end result will be a beautiful, luscious lawn. In other words, hello running barefoot through your yard all year long!

Procuring a proper lawn is a science. If you’re ready to get the green going all year long, your best bet is to reach out to lawn care specialists who understand Arizona’s unique climate.

Need sod in Arizona? Contact us today.

How to Care for Your Winter Rye Grass
Article Name
How to Care for Your Winter Rye Grass
Here are a few things you should know when it comes to caring for your rye grass lawn. Rye grass doesn't just go dormant when it's not in season; it can't survive the summers. Because of this, it needs to be replanted each year.
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Evergreen Turf
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