How to Care for Bermuda Grass?
Bermuda grass is a beautiful and popular lawn grass that is heat and drought-tolerant. Although mowing it regularly to maintain its height of one-half to two-and-a-half inches, once-per-week deep watering, fertilization, annual aeration, and regular weed control is still necessary, the grass can survive in most environments.
To help you in Bermuda grass care, below are descriptions of each of these topics. Keep reading to learn what you need to know to keep your grass healthy and looking great all season long.
Bermuda Grass at a Glance
Bermuda grass is a warm-season grass that typically grows in areas with medium to high humidity and temperatures of 68-84 degrees Fahrenheit. It is used as ornamental turf grass, primarily for its deep purple color and feathery appearance.
Bermuda grass has gained popularity in recent years as a drought-tolerant alternative to other popular turf grasses such as Bermuda grass, fescue, tall fescue, or perennial ryegrass.
Bermuda grass thrives under dry conditions and can perform well even when subjected to occasional flooding. Additionally, it is considered resistant to several types of common weed problems including crabgrass.
How to Maintain Bermuda Grass Yearly?
Bermuda grass is one of the most popular lawns in the world, and for good reason- it’s beautiful year-round. However, like all grasses, Bermuda grass requires care and attention to look its best. Make sure you water regularly and apply fertilizer to the Bermuda grass when necessary, and remove any weeds that may be growing- otherwise your lawn will become unsightly and eventually need to be replaced.
Here are steps that will help keep this perennial grass healthy:
- Maintain proper watering levels throughout the summer and fall months to prevent brown patches on your lawn caused by drought conditions.
- There are a few products you’ll need to properly care for your Bermuda grass this year.
- Be sure to start the season by applying the product in early spring before rain occurs – this will help keep Bermuda grass away from sidewalks and driveways.
- These include a Bermuda grass control product, compost or soil amendment, and water.
January through April
You should mow the lawn just before green-up, ideally between 1 and 2 inches high. You should not mow too low or scalp the lawn. You can do this by setting your lawnmower at a height between 1 to 2 inches before green-up, which usually occurs from late April to early May. Alternatively, you can rake the lawn by hand near the beginning of green-up to remove any excess dead leaves that still remain on top of the ground after snow season.
It is important to sharpen the mower blades before use to protect the grass from disease. Dull blades rip across the grass, while sharp blades will make clean cuts.
Lawn aeration releases pressure from the lawn, helping to correct root and soil compaction. Lawn aeration can be combined with dethatching for a more effective approach.
Do not disturb the soil until just before the pre-emergent herbicide application date, or when necessary. Disturbing the soil can cause weed seeds to germinate and emerge through the barrier of pre-emergent herbicides.
To eliminate a thatch layer, you can use a dethatcher or vertical mower that removes it. You should only use these if the layer is more than ½ inch. For best results, you should use a dethatcher with a 2- or 3-inch blade spacing set at ¼ inch deep.
When using a power rake with 1-inch blade spacing, there’s an increased chance of “severe turf injury” occurring. These instructions are to manually remove the thatch levels while cleaning up the turf material with a lawn mower with bag attachment or hand rake combined.
Testing the soil and fertilizing is important when you are establishing a Bermuda lawn. If there is a chance of frost, it is best to not apply nitrogen fertilizer. If new growth occurs from fertilizing early in the year and there is a late frost, the plants will be damaged.
When you’re looking to control crabgrass, goose grass, and other weeds during the summer months, apply your pre-emergent herbicide early in the year.
Apply post-emergent herbicides as needed to control existing winter weeds. Apply herbicides during the spring green-up only if the weed problem has started and not before there is a need for it.
Otherwise, wait until the grass has fully greened before applying a post-emergent herbicide to avoid harming your Bermuda grass. When using any herbicide, follow the product label and take caution when using them during hot summer weather.
Low temperature keeps the insects problems in Bermuda grass. As the temperature increase, monitor the mole cricket growth. If there is mole cricket in the sod, apply an insecticide to your lawn.
Make sure to monitor the grub growth. If grub was a problem last year. Cut a piece of sod, if there are more than 6 grubs are found. Apply a grub control.
In winter, water your lawn to prevent drought stress. This can help give good care and minimize the loss of turf during this period.
Regularly monitor rainfall and administer water if there is not enough over a few weeks. This step can help prevent the growing points of turf from dying, important for clearing turf in colder months.
People with clay soil should not let their lawns get too wet.
May Through August
Bermuda grass should be mowed every week. It should be at a height of 1-2 inches, and the best height depends on the lawn’s growing conditions.
Gradually reduce the mowing height as you monitor the lawn. If the lawn starts to look bad, raise the height back to what it was before. Bermuda grass that is adapted for partial shade will be cut at two inches.
When the weather is hot, or there isn’t enough precipitation, raise the blade on your lawn mower. Always use a dull blade and have a mulching mower. Avoid cutting too short, which adds stress to your grass.
The mower blade needs to be sharpened monthly or before the growing season starts. When dirt is being caught in the bag, it suggests that the mower blade needs to be sharpened more.
Apply five pounds of pelletized sulfur per 1000 square feet of turf if the soil test reveals a pH on the higher side. Bermuda grass will grow best in a pH range of 6 to 6.5, so be sure to fertilize and lime by the soil test.
Avoid using sulfur if the air is above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. After 3 months check the soil pH to make sure it has changed. It may take several years before a large change occurs.
Bermuda grass should be fertilized with 2-4 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet. This will make the grass green without excessive growth.
Make a soil test in the spring to determine phosphorus needs and fertilize heavily with nitrogen right before summer starts.
Late in the growing season, it’s important to fertilize your lawns with ½ to 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, with a fertilizer that has higher potassium content. A gardening lesson.
A lack of iron in the soil can cause yellowing foliage coverage. Iron may be added during a prescribed period to help fix the problem with other fertilizers.
Note: You may see yellowing in the grass in early spring. This is likely due to a deficiency of either iron or manganese, which makes plants turn yellow. You should apply ferrous sulfate or chelated iron if you suspect an iron deficiency; apply manganese sulfate for a manganese deficiency, or add lime or sulfur if your soil test indicates this will fix the problem.
The amount of fertilizer needed to apply ½ pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet is 50 divided by the first number on the fertilizer bag. The amount of fertilizer needed to apply 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet is 100 divided by the first number on the fertilizer bag.
The best way to prevent drought stress on the lawn is watering with water. You should also check the lawn regularly to assess the need for irrigation, then apply ¾ or 1 inch of water the next morning.
One way to tell if there is enough moisture in the turf is by monitoring it daily. When the turf appears to have a bluish color, that means it’s too dry. A second way to check moisture is by walking through it late at night and if lawn blades rebound, then there is plenty of moisture left. If they don’t rebound, then additional water needs to be added as soon as possible.
An irrigation interval will depend on the environmental conditions in your area. The general rule is to water deeply, infrequently. You can water a localized dry spot or hot spot by hand if needed.
Bermuda grass is susceptible to large patches and dollar spots, which are fungal diseases during warm weather. To prevent them, make sure drainage is adequate and water practices are proper.
The circular portions of diseased turf range from 2-6 inches in diameter, but can grow to as large as tens of feet. The dying center of the patch will show a smoky brown appearance, and eventually may combine with unmaintained patches on the outer edge for a total kill.
To help reduce disease problems, fertilize and water infrequently. Avoid large patch and dollar spot problems by managing water flow and thatch.
Insect pests, such as moles and other insects, can cause a lot of damage to Bermuda grass during the summer. Different strategies are used for different pests, with cultural and chemical controls being used to handle them.
Insects hatch at different times in the season and should be dealt with accordingly. If you have an insect early in the season, look for a solution that addresses the younger immature insects rather than the nymphs.
A pre-emergent herbicide applied during late winter and spring will reduce many weeds the following summer. This means that many weeds need to be controlled with post-emergency methods, and this can have an effect on the area you’re trying to use.
If you’re looking for weed control for summer grassy weeds, pre-emergent herbicides will be your best option. A selective herbicide is limited for use during the summer.
September through December
Keep the lawn mowed at normal height until the temperature falls below 70 degrees. Once it does, raise the lawn mow to allow more surface cling
Don’t apply nitrogen at this time. Lime or sulfur may be added if recommended by a recent soil test. Add 1 pound of potash per 1000 square feet 4 to 6 weeks before the first expected frost, and you can use 1.6 pounds of muriate of potash (0-0-60) or 2 pounds of potassium sulfate (00-0-50).
Ensure your lawn continues growing by watering it after the grass has entered its dormant phase, typically in late fall. This is important because when warm and sunny days are followed by cold, dark ones, you may have to water more often.
To avoid costly repairs, apply an insecticide before the first frost to reduce the population and damage of insects.
It is important to treat turf grass with fungicides during late fall to prevent diseases. Cooler temperatures and less daylight can delay the recovery of infected plants.
Fungicide treatments are used to reduce the chances of disease which weakens turf. If patches of the disease have been on your lawn for a while, you may want to start treating it before it goes dormant.
You can control many weeds with a pre-emergent herbicide. More than one application may be necessary, and all directions on the product must be followed.
Nonselective herbicides can be applied as necessary for the control of broad-leaf weeds such as chickweed, henbit, and winter annual grassy weeds.
Bermuda grass is more sensitive to certain herbicides so make sure you follow label directions when applying 2,4-D and use it with caution. Selective herbicide can also be applied during winter to control annual bluegrass.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which type of fertilizers should I use for my Bermuda grass, and how often should I apply them to it?
Bermuda grass is a type of lawn that is known for its lush green color and its ability to grow in high humidity environments. To keep your Bermuda grass looking its best, you will need to apply fertilizer regularly. Here are the types of fertilizers that are best for Bermuda grass:
1. Nitrogen – This type of fertilizer is necessary for helping Bermuda grass grow quickly and stay healthy. It should be applied every two to three weeks and can be found at most garden stores.
2. Potassium phosphate – This fertilizer helps to increase the growth and density of Bermuda grass, while also reducing the need for water. It should be applied every two to three months and can be found at most garden stores.
3. Calcium sulfate – Calcium sulfate is a type of fertilizer that helps to improve the color and texture of Bermuda grass, while also helping to prevent browning and damage from competing plants. It should be applied every two to three months, and can be found at most garden stores.
How can I keep my Bermuda grass healthy and green all year round?
Bermuda grass is a type of grass that is known for its deep green color and long life. It can be difficult to keep Bermuda grass healthy and green all year round, but there are a few things that you can do to help make the process easier.
- Keep the grass well-watered
Bermuda grass needs plenty of water to stay healthy and green. Make sure to water the grass regularly, especially in dry periods.
- Fertilize the grass regularly
Bermuda grass loves a good dose of fertilizer, especially in the beginning stages when it is growing rapidly. Fertilize it twice a month during the early stages of growth, and once a month as it matures.
- Mow the lawn regularly
Bermuda grass does best when it is kept short and manageable. Mow the lawn regularly to keep it at a manageable height and prevent it from becoming too long and floppy.
What are the benefits of growing Bermuda grass?
Bermuda grass is a perennial grass that is commonly used in golf courses, sports fields, and other areas where it is desired to have a dense, high-quality turf. It can be used as an annual grass or as a turf grass that is mowed once or twice a year.
Bermuda grass has several benefits that make it an attractive option for homeowners and businesses:
- It is drought-tolerant
Bermuda grass tolerate dry conditions better than most other turf grasses.
- It has good root growth
Bermuda grass roots spread extensively and quickly, which helps them to take up nutrients and water from the soil. This makes it drought-resistant and also helps to keep the turf healthy.
- It has good shade tolerance
Bermuda grass can withstand some sunlight exposure, which is helpful in areas with harsh Summer climates.
- It has low maintenance requirements
Bermuda grass doesn’t require as much attention as some other types of turf grass, which makes it a good choice for homeowners who are busy but want a lush lawn. Mowing and watering are the only regular maintenance needs for Bermuda grass.
If you’re looking for a lush, high-quality lawn that you can enjoy year-round, consider growing Bermuda grass!
What are the risks of not caring for Bermuda grass?
One risk of not caring for Bermuda grass is that it will become infested with mites. Mites are tiny creatures that feed on the chlorophyll in the grass leaves, and they can cause the leaves to turn yellow, brown, or even fall off altogether.
If this happens, your grass will not be able to photosynthesize and will instead rely on stored energy from previous years.
Another risk of not caring for Bermuda grass is that it will become overgrown. Overgrown Bermuda grass can be a nuisance both inside and outside your home, as it is hard to walk on and can block sunlight from reaching other plants or flowers.
Overgrown Bermuda grass also causes soil erosion and can lead to flooding in low-lying areas.
Bermuda grass care is essential for keeping the lawn looking its best. By following the instructions provided in this blog, you will be able to care for Bermuda grass year-round. Make sure to read the article from start to finish to get the most comprehensive information about how to care for Bermuda grass.
Nina Bassuk is a highly qualified expert in urban forestry management. She earned her Ph.D. in Horticulture from the University of London, UK, and is currently a professor and program leader at Cornell University. With over 100 papers and co-authorship of the book 'Trees in the Urban Landscape,' Nina's expertise lies in improving plant selections for difficult urban landscapes, soil modification, and transplanting technology.