How to Plant a Winter Lawn


Winter lawns are planted in warmer regions of the country where homeowners want to enjoy having beautiful green grass in their backyards all year round. Bermuda grass is a popular warm-season grass grown during the spring and summer in these regions. When the temperatures cool in the late fall and early winter, Bermuda grass goes dormant and turns brown. Lawns are over-seeded with annual rye grass, a fast-growing grass that sprouts quickly. Overseeding takes place as late as the middle of October in the warmest areas of the United States.

Step 1

Choose the best time to plant. Wait until the daytime temperatures are still warm, but not too hot--in the 80's is ideal. Grass seeds quickly dry out when the temperatures are too warm and the humidity is low, or when they are exposed to a dry wind.

Step 2

Prepare to over-seed. Mow the summer lawn down as far as you can. This process is called de-thatching. It allows your newly planted seeds to be bedded down in the soil where they can obtain moisture, rather than being stuck on top of the existing lawn

Step 3

Prepare to plant on bare ground if you don't have an existing lawn laid. Dig down at least 6 inches with a shovel and turn the soil. Remove rocks, plant roots or other debris. Break up compacted areas with the shovel or garden fork. Add compost if the nutrient level of your soil is insufficient. Be sure to work the compost evenly through the entire planting bed. Adding fertilizer with nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous can also be done as the compost is being worked in.

Step 4

Level the planting bed. Use a rake to make the area level and smooth. Water can collect in low areas, drowning the seeds and preventing germination.

Step 5

Spread the seeds. Go slowly and spread the seed as evenly as you can. Use a push spreader to ensure even coverage rather than relying on hand sowing. Push the spreader from one end of the planting bed to the other, and then push it across the rows you just made, forming a crisscross pattern. Lightly rake the planting bed to work the seeds into the soil.

Step 6

Cover the seeds. Put a thin layer of compost over the newly planted seeds to help keep them moist. Too much compost on top of the seeds makes it difficult for them to sprout.

Step 7

Establish a regular watering schedule. Water the seeds at least three to four times a day after planting. Spray the water on lightly and for short periods of time--seven to 10 minutes. Do not let the area flood, which will wash the seeds out of position.

Tips and Warnings

  • Make sure the seeds do not dry out during the hottest times of the day. If the day is particularly hot and dry, water around 3 p.m. to keep the seeds moist.

Things You'll Need

  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Garden fork
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Seed spreader
  • Grass seed
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Lawn mower


  • The Lawn Bible: How to Keep It Green, Groomed, and Growing Every Season of the Year; David R. Mellor; 2003
Keywords: rye grass lawn, winter lawn, growing lawn winter

About this Author

Brian Hill's first writing credit was the cover story for a national magazine. He is the author of three popular books, "The Making of a Bestseller," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital" and "Attracting Capital from Angels." Among his magazine article credits are the March 2005 and June 2008 issues of "The Writer." His interests include golf, football, movies and his two dogs.