It’s one of the great debates. Like Yankees vs. Red Socks, Democrats vs. Republicans, cat lovers vs. dog lovers, there are those who overseed their grass vs. those who don’t. Why the great debate? Well, it’s hard to say exactly how it all started, but it likely has something to do with American’s love of lush green lawns and doing whatever it takes to have them.

Here are the top ten reasons not to plant a winter lawn:

  1. Save time – No need to scalp the lawn, prepare the seedbed, seed, water, or mow.
  2. Save water – Getting ryegrass seed to germinate requires watering three times a day or more, and spikes in water usage are always noticeable during the months of October and November when winter rye is seeded. By not overseeding, over 8,000 gallons of water can be saved for every 1,000 square feet of grass each season. In contrast, dormant Bermuda only needs to be watered once a month from November to February – even less if we get winter rains.
  3. Preserve water quality – Less fertilizers and pesticides will be needed. Much of our water pollution comes from runoff of these products from urban landscapes.
  4. Save money – Save on the cost of seed, labor, water, and gasoline for mowing. Also, some agency wastewater rates are often determined by your winter water usage. If you use more water in the winter, your utility bill wastewater rates will be higher the rest of the year.
  5. Save landfill space – Scalping Bermuda grass creates a great deal of waste for the landfills. Ryegrass clippings can create additional waste all winter and spring.
  6. Save the air – Gasoline mowers and other lawn equipment contributes to our air pollution problems, and the scalping process releases dust and other particles into the air.
  7. Decrease noise pollution – Mowers, weed whackers, and leaf blowers have become a major source of background noise in many neighborhoods. The drone of lawn equipment contributes to an already noisy world.
  8. Save frustration – Problems with seed germination, fertilizers, diseases, and irrigation are all common when planting a winter lawn.
  9. Set an example -We live in a desert and this is an opportunity to demonstrate your community leadership with a responsible outlook towards our water supply.

And the number one reason not to plant a winter lawn…

Give your Bermuda a break – Overseeding can be stressful for your Bermuda grass. In the fall, scalping the summer grass before dormancy doesn’t allow for adequate storage of energy in the roots. In the spring, the rye competes with Bermuda, and customers often withhold water to transition from winter to summer grass. Unfortunately, this will also stress the Bermuda.

You say you have to overseed…

OK, so you say that you have to overseed. Either your spouse will divorce you if you don’t, your HOA requires you to overseed or you’ll get fined (and you’re still working on changing that code), or you just have to put your toes into some green grass in the winter and you can’t afford a trip south of the equator?

Below are two links to some tips to keep it as water efficient as possible: