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||To Winter Rye or Not?
For most of you long-time listeners to GardenLine, you probably already know the basic answer - which is a big NO!
But really that's only if you are doing the winter rye just to do the winter rye on an established lawn. You see, there actually are a couple of cases in which it's almost essential to put down winter rye at this time of the year.
The first case that gives you permission to put down such winter grasses is for erosion control. A great example of this would be someone with a brand new home that is hesitant or can't afford to put down new sod just yet. So, in this instance, the winter rye will give you some kind of grass through to next spring and help keep the soil in place of a new-builder back yard.
The second case would have to do with "events" at the house. A great example of this would be if you're planning a wedding or wedding reception, or having wedding pictures shot in your yard any time over the next four to five months. This is simply an aesthetic choice for a particular purpose.
Now, as for the reasons why you shouldn't put out winter rye on established lawns…
First, you need to let the your existing grass rest during the winter
That also means you get to rest. Because the winter rye will still need to be watered and fertilized and mowed and edged etc.
Probably the most important thing you should consider is that the winter rye is taking away the nutrients that are supposed to be there for your existing turf needs in the "winterization mode"
The last reason you should avoid it, or at least "do it right," is in the improper germination rate. For those winter rye lawns that aren't/weren't done right, it's the equivalent to a balding man's "COMB-OVER." Everyone else that sees it knows something not quite right, but the guy with the comb-over things it looks good, eh! So, if you don't do it right, everyone's sort of laughing at your lawn.
So, having said that, if you have to do it for any of the approved reasons above, then let's do it right. First, get an Annual Rye as opposed to a Perennial Rye. That way it won't keep coming back year after year. Then, get it done in the next few weeks. Or, put another way; get your first layer of rye down before our first serious cold snap. You can put subsequent applications out, after the first one, but at least get a gauge at your germination rate.
Until next issue, here's to
Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard
exclusively weekend mornings from 8 to noon
on Talkradio 950 KPRC.
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