Rye grass is widely planted in warmer climates to produce a beautiful green lawn during fall and winter months, when the warmer season grasses, such as Bermuda, become dormant and turn an unattractive brown color. Homeowners appreciate the fact that rye grass grows rapidly from seed, and the process of seeding with rye grass is not difficult.
Prepare the area to be seeded. If starting on bare ground, turn the soil to a depth of 6 inches and add compost if necessary. Remove any rocks and rake the area thoroughly. If over-seeding an existing lawn, scalp, or de-thatch, the summer lawn down as far as possible. You want the rye grass seeds to be in contact with the soil so water can reach it, not perched on the existing lawn.
Spread the seed. Even coverage is crucial to having an attractive lawn rather than a patchy one. Using a push spreader to distribute the seed evenly is recommended rather than sowing by hand. Spread in a crisscross or checkerboard manner. Work the seed into the soil by raking very lightly.
Apply compost, mulch or other top dressing to help keep moisture on the seeds, which is especially important if the weather is warm and dry. Apply a thin layer, as you don't want to smother the seeds with heavy bark type mulch.
Water frequently at first to help the seeds germinate properly. Water lightly for short time periods---ten minutes or less---three or four times daily, depending on how dry the weather is. Applying too much water can wash the seeds out of position and result in an uneven lawn. On the other hand, seeds that are too dry will not germinate at all.
Mow the lawn when it reaches 2 inches. Take only about a half-inch off with the initial mowing. Waiting until the grass is too high will make it difficult to mow uniformly. Mowing it down too far can damage the new turf while it is still getting established.