This morning while walking the dog in a light sprinkle, my husband slipped on a muddy sidewalk. He’s okay–just a little dirty–but it made me think of ways to keep the soil where it belongs. Winter rye! Yes, winter rye is the grass that helps avoid soil erosion the best.

Too Late to Plant?

If you live in a colder area of the country, you might be thinking it’s too late to plant winter rye right now. You’d be correct. The best time to plant winter rye is in the fall, just when evenings start to get cool. However, in the west, winter rains have just begun–80° on New Year’s Eve is not uncommon–and if you watch the Rose Parade, you know what I mean. You could get away with planting winter rye this late in warmer climates–seed or sod. In fact, winter rye does well with occasional sunny days. Winter rye also is a great choice to over-seed your bermuda or St. Augustine grass.

Advantages of Winter Rye

Winter rye is known as a scavenger, meaning it will seek out nutrients in the soil. It loves nitrogen and finds the residual nitrogen in the soil. Farmers use it as a cover crop because it is good at keeping weeds out and holding the soil in. A cover crop is planted between seasons to maintain and add nutrients to the soil. Winter rye is used often because it grows so quickly.

Getting Rid of Winter Rye

Going into the summer months when your regular bermuda grows well, you should let the winter rye die back and let your summer grass grow in. Let it go a few weeks without watering, then return to regular maintenance as your bermuda comes out of its dormant season.