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How to Water Winter Rye Grass in Arizona

Rye grass grows well in the mild winter months in the lower desert of Arizona. Referred to as a winter lawn, rye grass flourishes in the cooler months and then dies back as the temperatures rise. Caring for your winter lawn, from fall to spring, requires watering your lawn properly to conserve water.

Seed your lawn in October, after the temperatures begin to fall. Rye grass seed is available as an annual and a perennial. The perennial rye grass will not re-emerge the following season; the high summer temperatures kill off the grass. Annual rye grass is less expensive, but the perennial is softer and germinates more quickly.

Water the newly seeded lawn with a light spray. If you have a sprinkler system in place, adjust the timer to water the lawn for 10 minutes twice a day. The pressure should be light. The first watering should be early in the morning, just after sunrise. The second watering should be late in the afternoon, but at least an hour before sunset.

Use a light spray with a hose if you do not have a sprinkler system. This is a less efficient way to water your lawn, as you risk over-watering some areas and under-watering other areas.

Adjust the watering schedule when the grass seed sprouts and the temperatures continue to decline. Water every three days in the morning for 20 minutes. This will prevent the grass from drying out.

Reduce the watering times to once a week when the rye grass is established. Reduce this again to once every two weeks after the first mowing, about six weeks after planting. Set the timer to water around 9 or 10 in the morning during the cooler months.

Reduce the amount of water directed toward shady areas by as much as 30 percent. Shaded areas do not dry out as quickly and so require less water.

Turn off the automated sprinkler system during rainy days. If possible, switch over to manual. In the winter months, Arizona may experience days of heavy rainfall. You need not water your winter lawn for as many as two to three weeks after one day of heavy rainfall.

Stop watering your winter lawn in mid-April, when the temperatures begin to rise. This will allow the rye grass to die out. When the rye grass turns brown, water once a week for 10 minutes to encourage the dormant Bermuda grass to emerge for your summer lawn.


Do not use flood irrigation for your rye grass lawn. This may result in fungus as well as waterlogged roots.

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