When to Plant Rye Grass – Planting Guide 2024

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Ryegrass is a lovely, bushy ground cover that is perfect for lawns. While there is separate, annual ryegrass, we will be focusing on the perennial variety and when to plant it.

When to plant ryegrass: Perennial ryegrass, also known as ryegrass, is a great option if you want a dense ground covering for your lawn. The seeds need plenty of moisture to germinate so planting in spring or fall is the best time. Ryegrass doesn’t take too long to germinate, and in as little as five days, it can start to grow. Ryegrass will grow all summer long, as long as you provide enough water for it. Installing an automated sprinkler system is recommended. During fall, ryegrass will slow down on its growth and then enter a period of dormancy in the winter. However, once temperatures start to warm up in the spring, it will begin to grow again.

Planting Rye Grass in Different Climates

Tropical Climate

Overall, it’s best to skip ryegrass if you live in a tropical climate. This type of grass needs warm summers and cool winters. It most definitely needs a period of time in the winter to be dormant, and a tropical climate won’t be able to provide this.

Dry Climate

A dry climate is not ideal for ryegrass. It needs plenty of water and if you live in a dry climate, you will have to add a lot of water to your lawn which is expensive and not environmentally conscious.

Temperate Climate

A temperate climate has the perfect conditions for ryegrass. The cold winters will give the ryegrass a chance to be dormant and the warm weather will let it grow but not be too hot so as to shock it into a second wave of dormancy.

Furthermore, the consistent rainfall of a temperate climate in the spring and fall means planting is a lot easier.

Continental Climate

You may be able to plant ryegrass in a continental climate but it might be more work than you anticipated. While the cold winters are great for ryegrass and its dormancy period, the summers are very hot.

You will have to spend a lot of time watering your ryegrass in the summer to keep it growing. This means a large output of water which costs more and is not good for the environment.

Polar Climate

A polar climate is not ideal for ryegrass. Even though it doesn’t like very hot summer temperatures, it needs a more even climate with mild summers and cool winters.

Choosing Rye Grass Seeds

The topic of ryegrass can be quite confusing because there are two main types. You can find both annual ryegrass and perennial ryegrass.

Annual ryegrass is used as ground cover and is beneficial when you want to prevent soil erosion or add nutrients to your garden. Annual ryegrass is planted in the fall, grown over winter, and then removed once it dies off in the spring.

Perennial ryegrass, however, is meant to be a permanent ground cover. Once you plant it, perennial ryegrass will continue to grow each year.

For the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on perennial ryegrass. If you want to learn about annual ryegrass, also known as winter ryegrass, you can check out our other article here!

How to Plant Rye Grass Seeds

Root system

Until you’re an adult, you probably don’t think much about the grass you walk and play on. Surely, it’s all the same.

However, as a homeowner, you now need to familiarize yourself with a plethora of new information, including different types of grass and how they work.

While ryegrass is a common variety, its root structure is different than other grass types. For example, Kentucky bluegrass has an intricate system of rhizomes, which are root-like structures that send up shoots in a surrounding area.

In contrast, ryegrass is classified as a bunchgrass. This means it has a shallow root system that doesn’t go deeper than the first six inches of soil.

What this all means is that while ryegrass will eventually spread out, it does so slowly. You will need more concentrated amounts of ryegrass seed so that it grows in bare soil.

Soil conditions

While there is a good range of pH levels that ryegrass grows in, its ideal range is between 5.5 and 7.5. However, it has been known to grow between 4.5 and 8.4 on the pH level. You can do a simple soil test to make sure you have the right growing conditions.


There are two times when it is best to plant ryegrass. If you miss one of the windows, you will need to wait for the next one; otherwise, you will be wasting money and time.

Late summer or early fall is the best time to plant ryegrass. The seeds need plenty of moisture because if they dry out, they won’t grow.

The second chance is in early spring. Again, this is a time when there should be plenty of moisture.

The life cycle of ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass will become dormant in the winter, usually between October and March. Even though it doesn’t grow during this period, it is still working to store energy to grow for the rest of the year.

Ryegrass will start to grow again in the spring, once temperatures start to warm up. You may even find yourself mowing the lawn in late April, depending on where you live.

Ryegrass will then be green and have a lush quality to it throughout summer. To keep up this appearance, be sure to regularly water your ryegrass, especially at the height of summer.

As it turns to fall, your ryegrass will start to slow down in its growth. By the time the first frost forms, it will be dormant.

Seed depth

When planting your ryegrass, try to sow it about ¼ to ½ an inch deep. The best method is to use a spreader for even distribution.

After the seed is on the soil, you can then tamp it down so that it is partially buried under the soil. Adding plenty of water after this step will also help cover the seed with soil.

How to Water Rye Grass

If you want your ryegrass to stay active and green in the summer, then you will need to add plenty of water. It is best if you have an automatic sprinkler system to help with keeping to a watering schedule.

After planting your seed, stick to a strict watering schedule and try to water every day until the seeds start to germinate. This way the seeds won’t dry out and die.

After the grass is established, you will still want to water regularly.

Especially in the summer, aim to water every two to three days. You can add more water if you are in a drought period.

How to Grow Rye Grass


Ryegrass, like other types of grass, needs a steady stream of nutrients. The grass is continually growing and if it doesn’t get enough nutrients, it will not be as lush or green.

Aim to fertilize at least twice a year. Once in the spring and once in the fall is ideal and make sure there is a good ratio of nitrogen in the fertilizer.

Always water well after fertilizing so that the minerals can soak into the soil. If your ryegrass goes dormant in the summer, it could mean there isn’t enough fertilizer or there isn’t enough water.


Regular upkeep of your ryegrass is important. You will need to plan for regular lawnmowing from spring to fall.

Try to keep your grass at a height of two to three inches tall. This will keep the soil shaded.

When mowing your lawn, always leave the grass clippings on the yard. They will disintegrate in a few days and add more nutrients to the soil.

Ryegrass grows in clumps so having longer blades of grass will create a more unified look.

How long does ryegrass take to grow?

Ryegrass takes five to 14 days to germinate. During this time, you want to keep the seed nice and moist. After it germinates, it only takes another week or so to be tall enough to walk on.

However, ryegrass grows in bunches so it may be a bit clumpy at first. While ryegrass will eventually spread out, this can be a slower process so you may need to re-seed if there are bare patches in your lawn.


Ryegrass is a great option if you want lush ground cover. You can plant ryegrass in either the fall or the spring and the consistent rainfall during these times will help promote more rapid growth.

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