Rye Grass Not Germinating

golfcourselawnDecember 8, 2008

Good afternoon everyone. I've put out a good bit of rye grass on several bare areas of my lawn. We're talking about 1000 sq. ft. and I've put down no less than 20lbs of Futura perennial rye seed. I started in late October and re-seeded on a monthly basis (three seedings so far). I've got sprouts randomly throughout the area, but no solid coverage. Water has not been an issue, the seeds had good soil contact were not washed out. In fact, I can still see most of them pressed into the surface of the dirt laughing at me! I can only guess that the temperature drop is holding them back, but has only been cold for about a month and we've had many days near 70. What am I doing wrong???

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Sorry Golfcoarselawn, not familiar with rye. Any chance it has dried out to much inbetween watering?

Sorry that nobody has gotten back to you sooner, that's a shame. Seems to be the way of things around here anymore.

My guess is that the temps would hold it back a bit, but from the little I know of rye is that it germinates quick so I am stumped. Maybe someone will show up and offer better info than I have.



    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 7:55PM
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Not sure where you live but I think you have fallen for the crap given as advice on this forum about rye grass germinating so fast. Under ideal conditions rye grass will germinate in as little as seven days but having days in the seventies does nothing for you, it is the night time temperatures that must be constantly above 55 degrees to get rye grass to germinate and you got some but not enough to make a turf. I think the best thing for you to do is just let the seed lay there and laugh at you for the rest of this year. Next spring you will see it coming up when the right temps occur and the right amount of moisture is present Next spring you should reseed, lightly again before the weather breaks and you will be on your way to a nice lawn. Don't wait so long to seed next year. I reseed lightly every season, every year except in the summer and don't have the bare spots. Try it for a couple seasons and see how it works. Just sprinkle a little seed over the entire lawn. Good luck. Lawndivot12

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 1:37AM
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That is very surprising. Test the germination of your seed by growing some in a pot with starter soil, indoors in a sunny spot. You should see germination in less than a week. Not sure about your climate but for me, fall typically has enough moisture to allow PRG to germinate with rainfall. I sometimes scatter PRG to my hellstrip (unirrigated) and there is always decent germination--I have never done that this late in the year though.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 1:42AM
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Another question to ask is why do you have the bare spots in the first place? If there's something wrong in those places that is stopping grass from growing, it's not going to help to throw more seed at the problem. You'll need to fix the problem first.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 2:42AM
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Jackson, MS area right? Late October was a little late to do this. My guess is one of two things or both.

1. Planted too late in the season and night time soil temps are too cold. If you are going to do this, I do not suggest it on warm season grasses, it is best done in very late August or early Spetember after summer heat breaks unless you live in some place like Phoenix or Las Vegas. Even in those areas they over seed in by early October.

2. Soil problem. Why was it bare to begin with? Shade, poor soil, what?

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 1:39PM
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Thanks for the replies everyone. I guess I should have given a little more background. As you can see from the photos below, a large part of my back lawn was previously a flowerbed. In addition, there are seven 10-15" diameter pine trees sprinkled along a walking path at the apex of the hill. Since these photos were taken, I had all the pine trees limbed up so that the first limbs start at 30 from the base. With the exception of about 7Â along the northern wall of my house (back wall), this limb removal brought in full sun to the back lawn area for at least 8hours/day. The existing lawn is/was Bermuda and since the pines were not trimmed until October, I could not re-seed a warm season grass. Essentially, IÂve got sparse Bermuda grass extending about 10-15Â from the edge of the flower beds/shade line on the back of my house. The remaining 10Â running to the apex of the slope of the hill was very sparse. The flowerbed at the top of the hill did not thrive because the pine trees sucked all the nutrients and moisture out of the soil and I could not water the slope area sufficiently without flooding the flowerbeds and grass at the base of the slope/nearest to my house. The flowerbed at the top of the hill was removed and now I just have a 20-25Â clean/sunny slope running from the shade line/flowerbed border to the top of the hill. After I removed the rocks and plants of the top flowerbed, I spread the soil across the existing area and covered some of the Bermuda grass in the process. I completed this process by mid-October when the highs were upper 70Âs and lows mid 50Âs and put down my first ryegrass seeds and lawn starter fertilizer at that time. Since I can see TW shaking his head, I only did this to prevent further soil erosion until I can re-seed with Bermuda next summer; I did not over-seed my front or side lawns. The ryegrass seeds were kept sufficiently moist and had good soil contact, but germination was weak. I even used a couple of different varieties with the same result. As I stated originally, I kept adding seed but the temps kept dropping. By the way, I try to stick to the schedules put out by my local extension and as you can see here: http://msucares.com/lawn/lawn/establish/winter.html, I was right on schedule. IÂm puzzled. Do a forum search and you will see pics of my successfully planting two Bermuda lawns in the past two years. I also over-seeded last year with no similar problems. IÂm thinking it has to be the soil.

For your reference:
The first picture gives a general view of the back yard and the location of the former flowerbed. The second picture shows the flower bed and the photo is oriented to N,S,E,W traditionally. (i.e., the bottom right of the photo is the southeastern corner of my back yard. The last picture shows the shade line where the sun never reaches due to the obstruction of the roof.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 4:08PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

If you have problem spots where the sun shines but grass won't grow, then it's time to call in the compost...or mulch. If you mulch now and try to plant next summer, and it still won't grow, then I'd do a soil test. But until the soil does not respond to mulch or compost, I'd save the money on testing.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 6:25PM
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I'll offer a couple of suggestions. It might be worth checking your seed label for dates. Old seed might not germinate well. I suspect you have acidic soil with all the pines. TTPR can tolerate it and seed is suppose to be relatively self sufficient to germinate, but it just seems to me that that could also have some influence on germination along with the cooler temps.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2008 at 8:58PM
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I never thought to check the date on the bag. How old can it be before it will no longer germinate? 1yr? 2yrs?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 10:28AM
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Properly stored (cool, dry), cool season grass seed has about a 50% reduction in germination after 3 years.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 4:45PM
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I checked the bag and it's dated 10/2007, so I guess I should get at least 60-70% germination. If it all germinated at this point I would have a rye grass forest! My father lives in the same town and overseeds his St. Augustine every fall/winter. He put down his rye a couple of weeks after me and his is real spotty. Of course, he does this every year and claims this is normal since the rye seed has difficulty making soil contact through the St. Augustine. Yet, his St. Augustine is almost fully dormant now and last year it never even got close. I think the problem has a lot to do with the unseasonable cool temps since we've had plenty of rain lately.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 2:30PM
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rcnaylor(z7 Tex)

Timing is huge.

And when it comes to getting seed up, a miss can be as good as a mile.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 4:19PM
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I'm frankly surprised you got any germination with a year old TTPR seed in your location. It has gone through a winter and a humid summer sitting on a lonely dock somewhere. I suspect its storage conditions were not ideal.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 8:27PM
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