Many of you have probably noticed the annual ritual of scalping lawns down in preparation of planting winter rye grass has begun! As usual some of you have called wondering if it is time to start planting your winter lawn. The answer for homeowners in NO!! The scalping you are seeing be done are golf courses, and commercial properties that the size and scope are so large they can’t be done at the perfect time. There are just too many and it takes weeks to complete.
The reason we “overseed” Bermuda grasses is they go dormant in the winter and we may want to have a green lawn when the weather is nice outside. So the trick is to wait to scalp the Bermuda down when it is approaching dormancy, and yet the temperatures are warm enough to germinate the rye grass fairly quickly. Scalp Bermuda too early and it may come back, and you are stressing it because it hasn’t had time to store up the necessary carbs to allow it to stay dormant all winter, plus planting a “competitor” in and among it while it still wants to grow causes stress as well. You also will use more water if it is hotter than if you wait another 2 weeks. So what is the “magic” date? We have always suggested that October the 15th or there a bouts is. You want the nights to consistently stay in the mid to low 60’s and have nice warm upper 80 or low 90 degree days. That gives you that combination of the Bermuda staying dormant and the rye grass germinating in a reasonable amount of time and you’ll have a nice lawn by Halloween!