One of the advantages of living in a desert state is the mild winter temperatures. With temperatures rarely going below 30 degrees at night, many Arizona residents plant a fall lawn of ryegrass. Ryegrass is a perennial grass with a dark green color and soft blades. A fall lawn also prevents weeds from taking hold and ensures that the summer grass receives plenty of water through its dormant winter months. For successful lawn establishment, be sure to plant the ryegrass once evening temperatures remain consistently at or below 65 degrees. According to University of Arizona Agricultural Extension, the best time for overseeding with ryegrass is between October 10 and November 10.
Scalp the summer lawn with a lawn mower set to a mowing height of 1/4 inch. The lawn may need to be cut two to three times to actually reach this length. Dispose of all the lawn clippings to ensure that the ground is clear.
De-thatch the ground using a power rake. Thatch is the seasonal buildup of plant tissues that creates a padded layer between the grass and the soil. You will know you have removed all the thatch when the lawn is brown and has 1/4-inch stubble as well as some surface runners (stolons) and some ground showing through the stubble.
Spread the fall lawn seed at 12 pounds per 1,000 square feet for a lawn that will be cut between 1 and 2 inches, or 15 pounds per 1,000 square feet for a lawn that will be cut between 1/2 and 1 inch. Spread half the seed in one direction, and then spread the other half perpendicular to the first. This method ensures the seed is spread evenly over the lawn's surface.
Fertilize the grass seed with a starter fertilizer. The fertilizer can either be a 6-20-20 or a balanced 15 mix. Read and spread the fertilizer according to the manufacturer's instructions to avoid damaging the seeds.
Mulch the entire yard with a 1/8-inch layer. The mulch acts as a barrier holding in moisture and keeping the seeds warm enough to germinate.
Water the lawn. When the seed is germinating and the blades are below 1 inch, water the lawn four to five times each day in short cycles, so as to avoid leaving any puddles or dry places. After two weeks, reduce the watering to daily. After the lawn is established, watering can be reduced to every other day.
Mow the lawn after two weeks, removing no more than 30% of the lawn's length.
Fertilize the lawn monthly with a 12-7-14 or a 22-3-9 fertilizer mix.