How to Grow Rye Grass in Tidewater, Virginia


The eastern part of Virginia is known as the Tidewater area due to its proximity to the ocean. Tidewater soil is well-drained and sandy and the weather is humid in summer with mild winters. The Tidewater area falls into what lawn care experts call a transitional zone. This means that summer grasses such as Bermuda go dormant in winter. During this time, cool-season grasses such as ryegrass should be grown to keep Tidewater lawns green all winter long.

Step 1

Mow your grass as short as 1 ½ inches in height.

Step 2

Rent a slit seeder from a lawn and garden center. Use the slit seeder to create furrows through your lawn that are at least 1-inch deep. Two to four passes with your slit seeder should create enough furrows to properly seed your lawn. Change the direction in which you pass your slit seeder over your lawn by about 90 degrees each pass. Ryegrass seed will not germinate unless it comes into contact with your soil.

Step 3

Pour ryegrass seed into a broadcast spreader. A broadcast spreader consists of a holding basket with a hole in the bottom and a rotating arm on a wheel beneath. As you push the spreader, seed is released through the opening at the bottom. The rotating arm flings the seed in a wide path for even distribution. Walk an even pathway over your lawn, pushing the broadcast spreader the same direction with each pass. Walk over your lawn a second time, shifting your second pathway perpendicular to the first.

Step 4

Water multiple times daily with ¼ inch of water each session until the seeds germinate. Use a rain gauge to measure the amount of water. Check the soil frequently with a moisture probe. Although most soil experts say that you should water up to two times daily, soil in the Tidewater area is sandy and well draining, which may require water as often as four times daily until grass seeds become established.

Step 5

Raise the deck of your mower once ryegrass reaches 1 ½ inches in height. Taper off watering until you use 1 inch of water every seven days.

Things You'll Need

  • Lawn mower
  • Slit seeder
  • Ryegrass seed
  • Broadcast spreader
  • Garden hose
  • Sprinker
  • Rain guage
  • Soil moisture meter


  • University of Illinois Extension: Overseeding Lawns
  • Extension: Transition Zone Lawns
  • National Arboretum: USDA Hardiness Zone Map

Who Can Help

  • Virginia Places: Climate of Virginia
Keywords: ryegrass Tidewater Virginia, growing ryegrass Tidewater, rye grass Tidewater

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."