How to Grow Rye Grass


Most lawn grasses die back during the winter months, making your lawn look somewhat pathetic. If you take special pride in maintaining a lush, green lawn all year long then you may need to consider growing rye grass during the winter months. Rye is a cold-tolerant grass that grows lush and green during the cooler months, and then dies back under the heat of summer. Winter rye grass should be planted in the late fall before the first frost in your area.

Step 1

Stop watering your Bermuda grass (or whatever type of grass you currently have) lawn for 10 days prior to planting your winter rye grass in the late fall (October, in many parts of the country).

Step 2

Set your mower to its lowest setting and "scalp" (cut it very close) your lawn after it has gone 10 days without water. This will make it easier for the rye seeds to germinate.

Step 3

Spread your rye grass seed using a hand seeder or even broadcast the seeds by hand. Try to spread the seeds evenly over the entire lawn. You will need 8 to 10 lbs. of rye grass seed per 1,000 square feet of lawn.

Step 4

Spread a thin layer (about 1/4 inch or less) of compost over the rye grass seed. Water the lawn twice a day for 10 minutes. Use a sprinkler to water the lawn until the soil is damp but not soggy. Do not walk on the lawn for 21 days after sowing seeds.

Step 5

Watch for your new rye lawn to sprout within just five to seven days. Allow your winter lawn to grow to at least 4 inches before mowing; this should take about six to eight weeks. Set your mower to 3 1/2 inches (rye should be cut slightly longer than Bermuda).

Step 6

Stop watering your rye grass for 10 days around May 1, or just before warm weather arrives for your area, and allow the rye to die off as it is not a good summer grass. Water again as you would for the summer Bermuda grass, and watch your summer grass spring back to life, giving you a full lawn for the summer months.

Things You'll Need

  • Lawn mower
  • Winter rye grass seeds
  • Sprinkler
  • Compost


  • Lawn Care Net
Keywords: grow rye grass, planting rye, starting a winter rye grass lawn

About this Author

Larry Parr has been a full-time professional freelance writer for more than 30 years. For 25 years he wrote cartoons for TV, everything from SMURFS to SPIDER-MAN.