Ryegrass is winter hardy and remains green during cold months when temperatures drop and other types of grasses fail to survive, thus giving the lawn a lush green look. This type of grass is usually planted by fall so it can sprout and grow by the end of fall or early winter. However, ryegrass cannot grow in the summer, and will need to be replaced by crabgrass so your lawn continues looking green. Crabgrass is drought hardy and can withstand raising temperatures of the summer and direct sunlight.
How to Plant Crabgrass after Winter Ryegrass
Stop watering your ryegrass by late fall, and mow it down to 1 inch. Ryegrass typically needs an inch of water in the winter, so failing to receive this will encourage it to dry soon and eventually die out.
Check the temperature of the soil with a soil thermometer. Crabgrass needs a consistent temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit in order for the seeds to germinate and thrive.
If the temperature remains 60 F for five days without fail and your ryegrass has dried up, rent a power rake to remove it from the site completely. Also make sure you remove any weeds either by pulling them off by hand or using a non-toxic herbicide. Collect everything in a wheelbarrow and dispose of it.
Prepare and amend the soil by renting a tiller from your local rental company. Till to a depth of 4 inches to break up hardened soil and aerate it.
Mix equal amounts of grass-starting phosphorous rich fertilizer and organic compost in a large bucket and pour over the tilled area. These soil conditioners improve soil texture and drainage, and increase its moisture retention abilities. Rake the area to ensure the conditioners go deep down, and water the area thoroughly with a garden hose at medium setting to ensure the area is sufficiently moist.
Purchase good quality crabgrass seeds from your local nursery or garden supply center. Depending on the area available, you will need 2 lbs. of seeds for 500 square feet of lawn.
Spread the seeds evenly by hand over the area. You can even rent a hand-held spreader to ensure even distribution of seeds throughout the area.
Rake the seeds gently to make sure they go a quarter-inch deep, ensuring good seed to soil contact. Apply a thin layer of mulch over the seeds to prevent birds from picking them and help retain moisture.
Water the seeds gently thrice a day for the first 10 days. Do not douse the area with water, but just enough to make sure the area is evenly moist. The seeds will germinate in 10 days to two weeks.