How to Germinate Rye Grass


Perennial rye grass is the grass of choice when overseeding southern Bermuda grass lawns. With its fast germination and ability to attain full coverage quickly, it makes a lush, green and attractive winter turf. When the summer heat returns the following year, perennial rye grass will die out as your old lawn comes back to life, and this makes for a smooth transition. To be successful with this task, you must first prepare your lawn to be hospitable to rye grass seeds.

Step 1

Mow your existing lawn down to 1 inch and rake up the clippings.

Step 2

Rake your lawn vigorously with a garden rake to loosen the top layer of soil. Rake until you can see soil by looking directly down into your lawn.

Step 3

Fill your spreader with perennial rye grass seed. Set the dial on the broadcast spreader to apply 8 to 10 lbs. of seed per 1,000 square feet.

Step 4

Walk behind the spreader and push it back and forth across your entire lawn to dispense the seed.

Step 5

Spread a 1/8- to 1/4-inch-thick layer of sand topdressing over the entire lawn.

Step 6

Apply 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water over the entire lawn to moisten the seeds and top layer of soil. Continue to water two to four times daily to keep the seedbed moist. The duration of each watering will depend on your local conditions.

Step 7

Reduce watering after 10 to 14 days and move into your regular irrigation schedule. Ideally, you should apply 1 inch of water per week to keep the grass sufficiently watered all winter.

Step 8

Mow the grass to a height of 1 1/2 inches when it reaches 2 inches in height. Maintain this height all winter to enjoy lush and green turf.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden rake
  • Broadcast spreader
  • Sand topdressing
  • Lawn sprinklers
  • Garden hose
  • Lawn mower


  • University of California Cooperative Extension: Perennial Ryegrass
  • Texas Cooperative Extension: Ryegrass, Temporary Sports Turf for the South
Keywords: germinate rye grass, rye grass seed, southern lawn overseeding, overseeding existing lawn

About this Author

Robin Gonyo has been writing for several years now. She has a deep love for gardening and has spent a vast amount of time researching that subject. Previously she has written for private clients before joining Demand Studios. She hopes to share her knowledge with others through her writing.