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Perennial ryegrass germinates quickly and can be used as a temporary ground cover

Perennial Ryegrass

Perennial Ryegrass

Common perennial ryegrass germinates quickly and can be used as a temporary ground cover while the slower growing bluegrass plants take hold. In warm climates it is used as an overseed to maintain winter green in the lawn after the warm season grasses go dormant, however, it will not survive the summer heat.

Perennial Ryegrass

The ryegrasses are best adapted to moist, cool environments where temperatures are not extreme in the winter or summer. In the United States, the northeastern and northwestern states are well suited to ryegrass. In the transition zone, perennial ryegrass may provide a permanent turfgrass. But in the southern states, both species serve as cool season annuals.

Of all turfgrasses used in the South, ryegrass probably has the highest maintenance requirement. Mowing, watering, fertilization and pest management needs of ryegrass are higher than for any southern turfgrass. Ryegrass has a rapid growth rate in the spring and requires twice weekly mowing at the taller heights - above 1"; mowing at 2 — 3 day intervals at heights around 1" and daily mowing at heights below 1".

Perennial Ryegrass

Ryegrass is the least drought tolerant of the southern turfgrasses and needs frequent watering in the spring and early summer. In many golf course situations, daily watering is not unusual on ryegrass greens and fairways. Even on lawns, ryegrass is the first grass to show symptoms of drought stress.

Overseeding warm season grasses for winter green

In warm climates, perennial ryegrass is used as a temporary "winter green" grass for overseeding established warm season grasses, especially zoysia and bermuda, in early fall. Planted in early fall, it maintains a bright green lawn through winter. By summer the perennial rye has died in the heat and the permanent grass is green again.

To help perennial ryegrass seed planted into a warm-season lawn germinate well, mow the dormant warm-season grass just before you sow ryegrass, and gather up the clippings. Then rake over the area to score the soil's surface. Like all grass seeds, perennial ryegrass will not germinate unless the seed is in direct contact with moist soil after mowing, gradually fill them in with small amounts of soil, until they are raised to the level of the rest of the lawn.

  • Shade tolerance: good

  • Planting: seed

  • Water: needs regular watering, but will survive droughts if not for extended periods

  • Mowing height: 1-1/2" - 2-1/2"

  • Pests: gray leaf spot, leaf spot, billbugs

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