To Rye or Not to Rye: That is the Question

rye grass

With today being the official start of fall, I know many are pondering whether or not to overseed their yard with winter rye. As a landscape design firm, this seems to be a very popular topic among the masses, so I decided to do a little research on this topic and came up with the following list of pros and cons to aid in your decision process.


  1. Overseeding is visually appealing, and as we all know, the visually appealing aspect plays an important role in Dallas decision-making.
  2. Overseeding acts as erosion control during the fall and winter months. This is especially helpful if you are building a new house on a tight budget. You could install winter rye and wait to install your everyday turf until early spring.


  1. Winter rye has the ability to interfere with your turf’s regrowth in spring. This is especially true during years of a cool or wet spring season. The winter rye competes with the existing sod instead of dying off.
  2. Winter rye requires more maintenance. If you choose to do winter rye, you will need to mow and fertilize throughout the fall and winter seasons and water more frequently than normal.**
  3. If you have St. Augustine or Zoysia, it is very important that your yard “rest” during the fall / winter and thus overseeding for these types of grass would not be recommended. The reason being, since winter rye requires frequent mowing, you are not giving your hard the rest it requires. This depletes your yard from the necessary nutrients that are stored in the blades during the “resting period”.

If you decide to overseed:

  1. Use a Reel Lawn Mover vs. a Rotary Lawn Mower, as the rotary lawn mower you typically use will butcher the Winter Rye. CAUTION: Please be aware that Reel Lawn Mowers are very harmful to St. Augustine and overseeding St. Augustine is not recommended.
  2. Use an annual rye grass vs. perennial Rye grass.  Annual Rye grass cost less, is fast germinating, requires a lower fertilization rate and requires moderate watering compared to perennial rye.
  3. Get the timing right. The best time to overseed is from mid October to mid November. You want to wait until there is a daily temperature difference of 20-30 degrees between morning and mid-day. Ideally, after the first frost,

For more information on winter rye for the Dallas area contact a local trusted maintenance provider or nursery.

Feel free to share your comments based on past experience!

**Please be sure check your specific city website prior to overseeding. With current water restrictions, many cities are prohibiting the use of winter rye.**