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Time to Plant Grass Seed . . . in the South

While those of us in the North are primarily concerned with collecting those last few leaves from the lawn to avoid winterkill next spring, many folks in the South are actually preparing to plant.

When December arrives, the cooler temperatures turn many Southern lawns brown — which is the natural dormant state. To combat that appearance, the planting of annual and perennial ryegrasses is common. Ryegrasses germinate quickly without a lot of soil preparation and will provide a winter of green before the heat returns next spring.

So which seed should you choose? Annual ryegrasses are generally less expensive to purchase and in most cases they will suffice for a three- or four-month color fix before the plants die back. NOTE: If by chance you grow a centipede lawn, you should only overseed with annual ryegrasses. The roots of perennial ryegrasses will harm the roots of the centipede plants.

Otherwise perennial ryegrass seeds are gaining slightly more favor in the South, especially in somewhat shaded areas where the grasses can persist even during the warmest times of the year. Sometimes, though, it’s just too hot and sunny for perennial ryegrass and the plants won’t make it through summer. It would be ashame to spend the extra money.

Here’s a great web site that spells out some of the subtleties:

Meanwhile up here in Rhode Island, I didn’t get around to overseeding our lawn with perennial ryegrass until two weeks ago and we’ve since had several fairly hard frosts. Germination, which should have occurred by now during warmer times of the year, has been minimal. Some of the seed may germinate in Spring when the soil warms, but I’m doubting it.

Serves me right for procrastinating.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

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