How to Plant Rye Grass


Rye grass stays green all winter, making it a favorite of southern gardeners, who sew annual rye in the fall for a lush lawn through the coldest months. You can plant rye grass in the fall without disturbing your existing lawn. Once warmer weather returns, the rye will die back, allowing the permanent lawn to take over. Rye grass is also sometimes planted as a cover crop in fall, and tilled under in the spring to add nutrients, especially nitrogen, to a garden or pasture land.

Step 1

Cut any existing grass short. Fort Valley State University in Georgia recommends trimming grass to 3/4 to 1 inch tall.

Step 2

Water the planting area. Wet soil will hold the rye grass seeds and speed germination.

Step 3

Fill a mechanical spreader with rye grass seed. The spreader will allow you to sow the seed evenly.

Step 4

Broadcast the seed across the lawn with the spreader. Sow in one direction for half the lawn and in the other direction for the other half of the lawn. Fort Valley State University recommends 3 to 5 lbs. of seed per 1,000 square feet of lawn. For larger areas, Oklahoma State University recommends 20 to 25 lbs. of seed per acre.

Step 5

Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer to the lawn after planting the seed. Distribute the fertilizer with the broadcast spreader and water in well.

Step 6

Fertilize the lawn again two months and four months after planting.

Things You'll Need

  • Lawn mower
  • Mechanical spreader
  • High-nitrogen fertilizer


  • Fort Valley State University: Rye Grass Planting
  • University of Oklahoma: Rye Grass FAQ

Who Can Help

  • University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service: Annual Rye Grass
Keywords: rye grass, winter lawn, planting winter rye

About this Author

Cynthia Myers is the author of more than 40 novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University. Before turning to freelancing full time, Myers worked as a newspaper reporter, travel agent and medical clinic manager.