Bermuda vs. Rye: Grass Selection and Maintenance

Katelyn Preston July 15, 2016

As soon as the temperature begins to rise in Arizona, homeowners begin to worry about their once-green lawns. Coming from the East Coast, or even California, newcomers to the state are unaware of the catastrophes the heat will do to their grass roots. It takes a special type of grass to thrive in this brutal heat, sparking the age old debate… Bermuda grass vs. Rye grass.

Bermuda grass is known to thrive in the unforgiving climate of Arizona. The texture of this grass, even with its dense consistency, is one of a very soft feel. With blue-green colors, this grass is known to be the most diverse on the market.

One of the reasons why Bermuda is so popular is its resistance to wear and tear. This springy stuff is made for kids to run and tumble on throughout the year. Another added benefit of Bermuda grass is that it is very low maintenance, requiring minimal fertilization.  Although this grass thrives in the summer, it tends to become dormant (which means it will stop growing) in late September when temperatures begin to cool down.

During the winter is when most Arizonians transition from the blue-green and sturdy Bermuda grass to Rye grass. Rye grass is known for its dark green color and super soft feel. A con with this combination is that once the Rye starts to go dormant in May, an owner must not water for at least a week so the grass may completely die off, which leaves room for the new species of Bermuda to come out of dormancy. 

Another important fact about Rye grass is that there are two different kinds: Perennial and Annual. Both die off in the blazing heat of summer but Perennial, the more expensive of the two, gives off a more vibrant color, leaves no grass-stains and is generally is more hardy than the Annual variety.  

Every Phoenician knows that when transitioning from Rye to Bermuda is early October, there is a small window of time where the weather is perfect for overseeding; planting too early will cause the temperatures to back the seedlings and planting too late will cause a slow germination due to the lack of warmth.  Another friendly tip is to never overwater - not only does it cost a lot but your grass will not grow in like you think it will.

If you’re planning to plant and maintain grass in Arizona, you should own a lawn rake and mower. A rake can help even out a surface, spread the seeds and prep the ground for planting. A lawn mower is for any owner who doesn’t want their grass to become a bit chaotic, as they can help maintain a nice looking lawn without cutting too close to the ground and looking bare.  

Adding grass to a yard or a garden can add a pop of color, much prettier than plain gravel or dirt. Understanding the difference between Rye and Bermuda grass will help to keep that bright green color all year long, as well as healthy grass for the family to have picnics, barbeques, pool parties and much more!