Oversowing warm season turf

Many playing fields in Geelong have now been converted to drought tolerant turf types like Couch or Kikuyu.

The one disadvantage of this turf type is the aesthetic affect on the field in winter. The Couch or Kikuyu will shut down (goes a brown colour) once the soil temperatures drop below a trigger point.

The result of this dormant stage is that the turf stops actively growing and therefore repairing itself. The turf also browns off and in the event of a very cold Winter or several consecutive frosts it can go an almost white color. Regardless of the colour, during this period of 2-5 months the turf remains dense and smooth. Therefore playability and safety is not compromised.

Oversowing cool season turf

Many believe oversowing the turf with a cool season grass like Rye can provide better Winter play. This is possible if sowing at very high rates and but be expensive and damaging to the preferred warm season turf type.

Oversowing the drought tolerant turf with Rye at reduced rates will improve the aesthetic appeal of the field during Winter but it still has many adverse affects on the preferred turf type lying below.

In summary

  • Oversowing will prevent light getting through to the Couch or Kikuyu which is critical for growth even during the Winter months.

  • Oversowing will compete for nutrients, water space and consequently decrease the density of the preferred turf type below.

  • Oversowing needs to occur prior to the football season which is at a time when the drought tolerant turf is still actively growing. This unnecessarily competes with the preferred turf type and lengthens the dormancy period.

  • As a result of oversowing the drought tolerant turf will have a lot more work to do in Spring to be ready for Summer play and strong enough for Winter sport the following year.

  • To achieve a successful outcome when oversowing, a ground closure between March and April would be required.

  • The oversown Rye is then expensively chemically removed to give the drought tolerant turf below a chance. It then needs to be oversown in Autumn once again.


Oversowing also takes considerable irrigation to establish and maintain during Winter which is contrary to the notion this playing field will now save water due to being converted to a drought tolerant turf type.

In summary, oversowing on suburban grounds is only used as a tool for greening up a field, not to improve playability and will adversely effect the preferred drought tolerant turf type below. It is our position not to over sow warm season grass suburban grounds with Rye Grass.


For further details and assistance please contact our Recreation and Open Space Department by phone on 03 5272 5272 or by email ([email protected]).

Page last updated: Thursday, 28 July 2022