For a lush, green lawn that lasts well beyond the first frost, plant winter rye.
"Winter rye is a grass seed that only grows in this zone during the winter time," said Gary Hewett, the owner of Advanced Lawn Maintenance in Harlem. "It's simply rye grass, but because it survives only in winter, it's known as winter rye."
Rye planting began mostly in businesses, but has seen a surge on neighborhood lawns in recent years.
Winter rye, Hewett said, is used to overseed lawns during the winter months to maintain a green appearance.
"The first thing a person needs to ask themselves is, 'Can I do this?'" said Hewett.
Many grasses, he explained, cannot handle winter rye. St. Augustine, Zoysia and Centipede are among them.
"Rye puts off chemicals that are harmful to those grasses," said Hewett, adding that if a person mistakenly seeds winter rye over these grasses, there should be no cause for alarm.
"It will not choke out healthy grass, but over time it can stunt the growth of those grasses."
What Hewett recommends if seeding is done over the nontolerant grasses is to cut the rye often and bag the clippings. By doing so, the rye seed contact is kept to a minimum.
If it is determined that winter rye is OK to plant in your lawn, then Hewett said the next question to ask is, "Do I want to do this?"
Keep in mind that the rye must be mowed all winter.
"You are going to be cutting grass when it's 20 degrees outside," said Hewett.
Hewett explains that the prime time to seed rye is when temperatures break into the 30s at night and don't go into the 80s and 90s during the day.
"First, scalp the lawn: cut the grass very low to the ground," Hewett said, adding that prior to seeding the rye is a perfect time to aerate the yard. "Spread the seed and water frequently."
The amount of seed spread will be listed on the seed's bag, but Hewett said he likes to double that amount for a lush, plush, green lawn.
"Water lightly and daily until you see growth," he said. "Cut back to normal watering after that."
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