Q: Can I plant rye grass now? We are in the midst of re-landscaping our back yard and have a bunch of mud! Is it too late to plant or should I just spread a bunch of straw to help with the mess?
A: Folklore has it that ryegrass germinates a bit easier than tall fescue in winter. Turf specialist Clint Waltz agrees, but cautions that both must have a soil temperature above 50 degrees in order to sprout. With current soil warmth at 40 degrees, growing rye will be a problem. You could try scattering seed and then covering the soil with a thin layer of black compost. If the area is small, you could scatter seed and then cover the spot with clear plastic for a few days. Both practices would raise soil temperatures a bit. Frankly, I think you should follow your instinct: spread straw over the mess and plant fescue in mid-February .