Annual Ryegrass is a unique prospect for lawn owners and turf managers. Its characteristics and abilities are ideal for a variety of situations, some of which may surprise you.
Annual Ryegrass is a cool season grass that has a lifespan of no more than one year. It doesn’t sound like a particularly appetising prospect, does it? But in truth, when used for specific jobs, Annual Ryegrass can be a terrifically valuable turf.
The ability for the Ryegrass to grow strongly through the cooler months – from mid-autumn through to late spring – allows it to cover for grasses that may not be as well suited to the conditions served up by the winters in temperate parts of Australia.
So what exactly are the best uses for Annual Ryegrass? Here are just three.
The most common use for Annual Ryegrass is as an over-sown winter seed. What does this mean? Well, with Australia having a relatively warm climate, most Australian backyards, sports fields and public spaces are fitted with a warm season lawn. These lawns love Australian conditions; the ample sun and plentiful heat allow them to grow incredibly well for most of the year.
But come winter, particularly in Australia’s southern states, these warm season varieties (including the Aussie favourites of Couch, Kikuyu and Buffalo) can begin to struggle. They need full sun and warm soil to look their best, and unfortunately the cooler conditions can have them browning off and wilting.
Annual Ryegrass can mitigate the damage caused by the frosty mornings of winter. It’s a cool season grass which is well suited to these conditions, and sowing it in autumn will allow it to establish in the lawn, and essentially overtake your warm season grass during this cooler period. It will protect your grass from the cold, and allow your lawn to retain a wonderful vibrance and beauty all year round. And as the winter chills make way for the summer heat, Annual Ryegrass will slowly die off, leaving just the pure warm season grass behind.
With your warm season grass severely weakened, your lawn is very much at risk of invasion by weeds. Broadleaf weeds in particular are extremely active in the cooler months, when your lawn is at its most defenceless. The use of herbicides to rid your turf of the invaders can serve to further harm it.
Annual Ryegrass can help to strengthen and thicken your lawn, choking out potential invaders during what would usually be a vulnerable time of year. But while it will choke out weeds, it will leave your hibernating lawn entirely unharmed, and because the grass will remove itself from the lawn when the weather heats up, you can rest assured that your lawn will be back to its pure and beautiful best come summer.
The dying off of warm season turfs during winter unfortunately coincides awkwardly with the heavier rains that southern Australia experiences during these colder months. The combination of run-off water and weak root systems can combine to result in erosion on your property, particularly on sloped ground.
Whether you’re using it in your backyard or on your farm, Annual Ryegrass is fantastic at ensuring the winter rains don’t erode your land’s soil. The deep and quick developing root systems of Ryegrass are fantastic at holding the soil – and the nutrients it possesses – firmly in place.
So, with its excellent tolerance of frost, shade and even heavy traffic, Annual Ryegrass is the sort of hardy turf that every Australian south of the subtropics will want on their team. If you’ve got any further questions on whether Annual Ryegrass is a smart choice for your particular situation, don’t hesitate to contact the friendly team at McKays!