Pros & Cons of Overseeding

LANDSCAPING TIPS brought to you by the Arizona Landscape Contractors’ Association, the Sustainable Landscape Management (SLM) and the Arizona Certified Landscape Professional (ACLP) programs

To overseed or not to overseed? That is the question. Here in the valley we are blessed (or cursed?!) with this decision each year as summer starts to wane. Cooler temperatures in the coming months will cause our lush, green Bermudagrass to turn into a yellow, crunchy surface during some of our most enjoyable months of outdoor entertaining and recreational activities.  Or you can choose to overseed with ryegrass for a green lawn year-round. If you haven’t yet made a decision about this winter’s lawn, it is not too late. Here are some pros and cons of overseeding to discuss with your landscape contractor to make the best decision for your outdoor space.

Overseeding Pros:

       Provides attractive green lawns from October thru April

       Provides a useful surface for entertaining and recreation during the time of year when residents spend a lot of time outdoors

       Enhances sports field playing surfaces

       Cool season ryegrass uses much less water than warm season Bermudagrass to stay healthy

       A green, growing lawn protects the area from erosion and can protect dormant Bermudagrass from damage due to  heavy foot traffic or play use

       No Bermudagrass straw dragged in the house and covering the pets and kids all winter

       Green growing turf cuts down on dust and creates a desirable microclimate


Overseeding Cons:

       Overseeding costs – labor, seed, extra water for germination

       Uses significantly more water than the alternative dormant Bermudagrass

       Maintenance expenses – mowing, fertilizing, irrigation management

       Environmental costs – fossil fuels, air pollution from lawn equipment, fertilizer manufacture

       Overseeding process can be disruptive – low mowing and watering several times per day during  germination, staying off the grass for a couple weeks

       Stresses existing Bermudagrass and can set back the spring green up

If you decide to go ahead and overseed to enjoy that winter lawn, talk to your landscape contractor about making the process as sustainable as possible, using these SLM (Sustainable Landscape Management) practices:


       Only overseed areas you will actually use and enjoy

       Reduce mowing in coldest months to once every other week if possible

       Make sure your landscape contractor adjusts irrigation often using the ET (evapotranspiration) rate from AZMET (Arizona Meteorological Network) or a smart controller to reduce water waste

       Consider reducing summer watering of Bermuda to reallocate some of the water budget to your winter rye

       Consider rotating some overseeded areas each year, allowing the Bermuda to “rest” every 1 – 2 years, which can reinvigorate summer lawns

       Mulch clippings as much as possible rather than bagging and sending to the landfill