September 28, 2016

Considering a winter lawn? Consider the benefits of forgoing a winter lawn this season instead. Not only do winter lawns use more water than dormant Bermuda (warm season) grass, they cost more, take more maintenance, and can weaken the Bermuda lawn.

Each year, more people are embracing the monetary, time, and environmental savings of forgoing a winter lawn. A recent study using aerial photography shows that less than fifty percent of the grass in the Valley is overseeded.

Overseeding with ryegrass for a winter lawn can cost as much as $400 to prep and install, and will require year-round maintenance. Consider that a winter lawn will use about 15,000 gallons more per 1,000 square feet than a dormant Bermuda lawn.

Some Bermuda grass will stay green until the first frost. Once temperatures reach about 55 degrees at night, Bermuda grass will begin its winter dormancy. This is an important stage in the life cycle of Bermuda grass. Once temperatures rise again in the spring, Bermuda grass comes out of dormancy. During its dormancy, Bermuda grass needs watering only about once every three to four weeks — and even less if we get winter rains.
water-saving-tip-overseeding-winter-lawnThe process of overseeding the lawn can be a bit more destructive than necessary. Scalping removes turf’s photosynthetic abilities and forces the shutdown of the Bermuda turf as it is sending all the energy to its root system. Scalping may even seriously injure weak areas of a Bermuda lawn. In spring, tortured Bermuda must complete with mature ryegrass for water and nutrients.

Excessive watering may keep ryegrass alive into warmer temperatures. Eventually the heat will kill the ryegrass, and the weakened Bermuda will start to return. Overseeded Bermuda will take longer to rebound fully than dormant Bermuda.

Most cities in the valley use a three-month winter water average to calculate sewer charges. Increased water use in the winter could increase your sewer charges all year. Skipping the winter lawn gives you more control over your sewer charges.

Consider letting your Bermuda go dormant this winter and save your wallet, your back, your time, and your grass!

Bill Casenhiser is a Water Conservation Specialist with the Scottsdale Water, one of seventeen Water – Use It Wisely partners to offer water-saving advice and programs.