Bermuda grass is a warm season turfgrass that is often used in sports fields and other high traffic areas. Bermuda grass, although robust, does go dormant during the winter and turns brown. Overseeding Bermuda grass is the practice of adding seed to improve the appearance of the turf during the winter months or to fill in holes left by rough play.
Ryegrass is one of the best overseeding grasses for Bermuda. Ryegrass grows throughout the winter months and keeps the turf green. It is easily killed, says Walter Reeves former horticulturist for the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, in the spring due to the summer heat and low mowing.
The turf requires preparation before overseeding. Frequent vertical mowing in the midsummer aerates the lawn and creates space for the new seed, also reducing thatch in the process says the Texas A & M University. Top dressing of organic materials over the turf will prepare the bed for the rye grass. Low mowing right before seeding in October ensures the best possible contact between seed and dirt.
Ryegrass is seeded at a rate of 5 to 10 pounds of annual ryegrass per 1,000 square feet. More ryegrass seed will create a greener lawn quickly but is difficult to kill in the summer. Ten lbs. of 10-10-10 fertilizer is spread per 1,000 square feet when seeding the lawn to help the ryegrass germinate and grow. Three lbs. of 33-0-0 fertilizer is added in February to improve the ryegrass health.
Ryegrass is mowed during the spring to a height of 2 to 3 inches. A week before the last frost of the spring the grass is cut to 1 inch in height to effectively kill off the ryegrass to allow the Bermuda grass to grow and green.
Ryegrass may compete with Bermuda grass for nutrients when the grass begins to grow in the spring. Killing of ryegrass may be difficult as well. Fertilizing in the winter months may damage the Bermuda grass as well when the winter is severe.