Supressing bermuda in a perennial rye lawn

effaceFebruary 3, 2013

Did some searching and looked on here...was hoping someone can chime in on what worked best for them.

Here is a picture of my lawn:

Last year I tried using Turflon Ester with varying results but everyone swears by it.

So here is my plan, please advice.

The brown spots of my lawn where the bermuda is I plan on dethatching in the next week and removing as much as I can and then spraying Turflon Ester and applying a pre-emegent for other weeds. I then will loosen the soil in those spots I cleared and seed with perennial rye which is not affected by the Turflon Ester. I need some advice as to whether to use a fertilizer or not to help the rye overtake the bermuda, I heard avoiding nitrogen will help accomplish this. I will mow the lawn at a 3" height in order to give the rye an upper-hand over the weeds and bermuda. Reapplying turflon Ester every 4 weeks through the growing season and doing the same next year.

Any other methods besides re-sodding/killing the lawn would be welcome!

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I say give up, the Bermuda is going to win no mater what you do.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 11:35PM
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There's a new herbicide that just came out that is indicated for removing Bermuda from cool season turf. It's called Pylex (see link below). Also, most herbicides only work when the offending weed is actively growing, so spraying Turflon Ester when it's dormant is just a waste of money. In addition to Pylex, you should mow your lawn between 2.5-3.5 inches, and limit fertilizing to the cooler months. Mowing short and fertilizing in hot weather favors Bermuda grass, which you don't want.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:59AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Where do you live?
What is your watering schedule (frequency and duration)?
When were the last two times you fertilized, and what did you use?
When did you seed the rye?

If you live in zone 9, why do you have rye at all? Zone 9 ranges from relatively cool areas (southern coastal Oregon) to pretty hot areas (central Florida). In the cooler areas rye works well; however, a majority of zone 9 is hot in the summer. In the hotter parts all forms or rye are normally annual grasses which die out when it gets warm.

Rye will not overtake anything unless you seed more rye into it. Rye does not spread like bermuda does. That is why the bermuda dominates so well. Any time the other grasses become thin, bermuda moves in to keep the other plants out.

You cannot kill bermuda with anything until it comes out of dormancy. You will have to wait until you have mowed the bermuda for the second time before you can guarantee the roots are working to full speed.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 8:08PM
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I forget the watering schedule I had going last year but this year due to going on to a meter system I plan on adjusting it by monitoring the soil moisture.

I last fertilized in the fall and summer, I believe I used Scotts and some other brand, forget the mixture but they were seasonal blends.

I have Rye because people on this board recommended it when I planted the lawn.

Thanks on the advice on the bermuda, I am working on clearing some of it out and reseeding and putting a preemergent down that will work with my grass seed. when the bermuda comes out of dormancy I will use the product I have since the other product suggested will not be coming out until summer 2013 (so their site says).

As for the weather issue with the rye, should I over seed with a tall fescue or something similar to even it out for the year?

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 9:51PM
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Your time to act was last summer and fall. Will not be much of anything you can do until August to get prepared to reseed in the fall. You are pretty much stuck with Bermuda until then.

You are going to need to apply a few application of Round Up next August to kill off the Bermuda. RU will kill anything you plant now, and if you plant now cannot over take the Bermuda.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 10:01PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Looking through the GardenWeb archives, I can't find any references to anyone discussing rye grass and Sacramento in the same thread. That seems like a poor match to me. Are you up in the foothills east of Sac'to or down in the heat? If you are down in the heat, rye is definitely a poor choice. Southern grasses like bermuda and St Augustine work best in the heat. Up in the hills you might be able to get by with it. Based on the apparent success of the bermuda and the marginal performance of the rye, I'm guessing your area is favoring the southern grass.

The appearance of tufts of dark green all through the yard made me ask about fertilizing. If the lawn was evenly fertilized it should all be one color. Do you have dogs that might be helping you fertilize? Also summer, especially if you are in a warm zone, is not a good time to fertilize. The added stress of a salty fertilizer on heat stressed roots can wipe out a lawn. Organic fertilizer - yes. Chemical fertilizer - no.

The first rule of gardening is to plant plants which are adapted to your conditions. Rye is not adapted to heat. If you are in the heat are you interested in renovating to a southern lawn or do you want to keep the rye? I'm not trying to be judgmental, I'm just trying to sort out which direction to give you help. We can help you with rye in the heat if you like.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 1:31AM
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I was wondering about the greener spots myself, I do have a dog, think thats it? haha

I do not like bermuda at all and I am not stuck on rye so I am open to suggestions. My front lawn is fescue and it seems to do fine. The rye actually didn't do bad either as long as I kept watering it regularly.

I'm in Citrus Heights.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 2:06PM
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Curtis Height is at 160 feet elevation. No cool season grass is going to make it there. Unless you are willing to have Bermuda, Zoysia, or Saint Augustine which are warm season grasses, no one here can really help you.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 2:28PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

It would be an uphill battle to grow northern grasses in that area. However, the variety of fescue called Marathon seems to do okay in the western deserts. It takes a lot of water, but it can be done. Rye seems to be grown mostly in the Pacific Northwest. I've heard of it in other northern climes but it is not very popular. What are you looking for? And is your area full sun? What is the maximum, sustained high temp in the summer. In my area, for example, we have high temps in the high 90s for weeks on end and low temps in the mid 80s. What do you have? If you are influenced by the sea breeze, you might even get away with something like KBG. That is a grass that will fill like you are thinking your rye will. But it is no match for bermuda. That will either have to go or become part of your mix.

Dog pee could easily make dark green spots on a well fertilized lawn. On an unfertilized lawn, they make dead spots.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 12:40AM
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This has gotten off topic a little bit, but for the nay sayers, which I don't blame you, zones are is a picture below of my perennial rye lawn in zone 9 in Sacramento in the valley where it gets up to 105 degrees. According to wikipedia my city (Citrus Heights) has an average of 76 days over 90 degrees.

I think it looks pretty nice.

So here is what I have gathered so far. I missed the seeding period of fall. So this spring/summer I will do damage control on the bermuda. Right now I am removing the dead dormant stuff and I plan on laying more seed anyhow, figure anything that sticks will help keep the spreading down. Before I clip the lawn this year I will go around and manually remove runners to help isolate it. Come August I will spray roundup on anything that sticks out and start overseeding in the fall.

Any other advice or tweaks?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 7:47PM
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Unfortunately Zones are not Zones. USDA Plant Hardiness Zones are based on the areas winter cold temps, not how warm it gets in summer. Zone 9 means it can get as cold as 20 to 25 degrees in winter. Portland, Eugene, and Salem Oregon are all zone 9 too and an excellent place for Rye grass. But if those places ever seen a stretch 90 degree days would be a natural disaster.

Where I lived in TX is zone 7 which would indicate a much cooler climate then yours. But if you assumed that you would be dead wrong. A stretch of 90 degree days there is break out the long sleeve shirts and sweaters weather, late fall has finally arrived. By Xmas day it can drop down to the teens. But come January back into the 80's.

You will not find much Rye Grass in TX except up in the Panhandle and on golf courses in the winter over seeded into the Bermuda grass.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 10:42AM
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I live in Portland (well, suburb of it). Portland, Salem, and Eugene are all Zones 8a and 8b. The Willamette Valley, where all three cities are located, has it's rounds of 90+ days each summer. However, PRG grows just fine here - just goes dormant during the heat waves if not watered. If you don't like to water then, no harm done if you don't mind a yellow lawn for a little while - just give it a bit to keep it from Death's Door. In fact, if you check out the neighborhoods in any of these cities, PRG is quite dominant as far as the turf type goes. Myself, I go for Elite KBG and TTTF. Much less fuss.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 7:19PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Yes it is cause for celebration when we drop down to the low late October.

The big thing you have going for you in Sacramento is the unfettered sea breeze. The fact that you were able to do it once and have it look that nice says it can be done...unless that was right after you seeded. New seed is pretty resilient until the heat kicks in.

Bermuda is like a predator and will continue to invade. There is simply no getting around that. If you can kill it, please report back with specifics.

I forgot to respond to your watering plan for this year. I would not rely on soil moisture sensors. They may be better than I think, but what really works is visually inspecting the grass. When the grass looks wilty, it needs water. I have been doing an experiment in my lawn since Oct of 2011. That is when I stopped mowing. The idea is to see how long it can go without water. This lawn is on the edge of the Texas desert where temps run just over/under 100 degrees for several months. There is still one shady spot in my lawn where I have not provided supplemental water for 16 months. I'm not sure how deep the roots go there, but the surface soil has to be dry as a bone. Still the grass looks pretty good (for 30-inch tall grass). The point is you need to watch the grass, not the soil. Deep watering and tall grass promotes deep rooting. Deep roots can draw moisture from deeper in the soil for a longer time. Thus deep watering on an infrequent basis is the mantra.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 1:36AM
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