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Bermuda Grass Care : The Ultimate Guide You Ever Need

Marry E. Smith
Seasoned Gardener

Botanically named Cynodon dactylon, this resilient grass originated in Africa, and you may have selected Bermuda Grass precisely because it is a hardy drought-resistant grass that does so well in exceptional heat. You may also have chosen it for your lawn because, in the face of heavy use, it has a very rapid rate for recuperating.

The only limitation to selecting Bermuda grass for your lawn is its climate necessities. So, having invested time and money in this grass, you’ll want to give it the best possible care to keep it thriving. As a perennial, it will return year after year with the right maintenance.

Its growing season starts in the late spring and continues through the summer months when the heat is at its highest. This grass will only thrive in locations that offer full exposure to direct sunlight, and of course, excellent drainage.

It will exhibit excellent tolerance to both humidity and salt and can be cultivated in clay or sandy terrain, tolerating both acidic and alkaline soil. So, whatever your terrain, it should not present any problems when programming a maintenance routine. For excellent performance, it will, however, require high nitrogen content.

As a rapidly growing and aggressive grass, it can be difficult to contain so part of your maintenance routine will need to include containment.

Bermuda grass can maintain a lovely green appearance even in the winter as long as your region is not subject to frost. If frost is a problem, it will enter winter dormancy and turn brown, rejuvenating during the growing season.

Bermuda Grass Features and How It Affects Maintenance

Keep in mind a few features when planning your lawn maintenance routine:

  1. Heat Tolerance -Bermuda grass can withstand severe conditions including high temperatures and drought but will require weekly watering.
  2. Cold Climate Conditions are Unfavorable - This grass is intolerant to the cold. Its color will fade and become brownish when exposed to cold temperatures.
  3. Aggressive and Invasive - As potentially invasive grass, additional measures need to be taken to control unwanted spreading in lawns and gardens.
  4. Does Not thrive in Shade - Bermuda grass thrives in high temperatures and direct sunlight. This means that shade during a good part of the day is ill-advised. This grass requires a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight.

bermuda grass close up image

Caring for Bermuda Grass: The Lawn Calendar

As warm-season grass, Bermuda grass needs monthly lawn care. Because it thrives in the summer heat, it will need specific lawn care during seasonal cycles to keep it in tip-top shape.

If you live in the south, both Bermuda grass and invasive weeds will awaken and begin their growing season earlier. As climate change becomes a way of life, the weather will also be more erratic, so keeping an eye on your lawn will help to anticipate needs and eventual problems.

Generally, A Bermuda grass lawn will begin growing at temperatures above 15° Celsius (59° Fahrenheit). Optimal growth begins in a temperature range of 24 to 27° Celsius (75-99° Fahrenheit).

January/Winter

Select the exact area where you wish to cultivate your Bermuda grass lawn. Preparatory work as winter moves toward its end is often the key to a great summer lawn. If your lawn is already planted, it will not need to be mowed. Even if the lawn is dormant, it still requires watering to avoid it drying out.

Spray pre-emergents on any crabgrass and most weeds. Try to apply the pre-emergent sprays when the grass starts to sprout and become green. This should be done when soil temps are still below 50° Fahrenheit. The map below shows us the perfect time to apply sprays.

crabgrass gowth us map

Usually, it is wise to apply the pre-emergent sprays a few weeks before the time mentioned in the graph to be on the safe side. If you choose to use these sprays, apply them a few weeks earlier. If you prefer to use granules, follow the exact time indicated on the map.

February/Early Spring

In Early Spring, Bermuda grass will gradually begin to awaken. Remember, cold spells may still come, so it’s wise not to stimulate your lawn too early.

With established Bermuda grass lawns, it’s important to intervene immediately at the first sign of weeds and to fertilize your lawn. Do this with a weed or crabgrass prevention product and fertilizer, before temperatures rise above 55° F. This will probably begin in February, but due to climate change, this may even come earlier in late January.

Early Spring is not the correct time to apply a granular product. Apply pre-emergent sprays and super juices. Do so every 2 to 3 weeks. Once the lawn is green, begin scalping. Scalping allows the sun to arrive at the soil and stimulate the growth of Bermuda grass.

March and April/Spring

Spring is a crucial time in lawn preparation. Now is when you need to do most of the preparatory work for your lawn. After the dormant stage, the grass dies, and it will turn brown. You must mow now as low as possible. Brown grass on your Bermuda lawn will cover green grass that grows underneath making it look ugly. You will need to mow at least once in the early spring. Clippings should be removed to avoid the development of fungal infection. Your lawn needs to be mowed to maintain growth length to 1 to 1.5 inches.

sping green 1 1

As spring starts, small green sprigs will gradually emerge. When you see a good number, and if you haven’t already scalped, you should start scalping. Many people don't scalp their Bermuda grass lawns which is a big mistake! Do not apply granular fertilizers before scalping your Bermuda lawn as you will be removing the fertilizer during the scalping.

The ideal period for planting Bermuda grass or seeding thin lawns is in the late spring to early summer. This should be done when the last frost has passed. This grass will germinate best when the temperatures rise to between 65° to 70°F. A soil thermometer can help with this.

Afterward, apply your granular fertilizer maintaining a 20-5-10 ratio.

TIP- Apply some nitrogen spray over your Bermuda lawn with a ratio of 30-0-0 after applying fertilizer. This extra nitrogen supply will boost your Bermuda lawn. This can be done when there is no rain forecasted for at least three days or more.

If weeds begin to emerge actively, use a product to control and eliminate their growth. After application, you may have to wait approximately three weeks before reseeding the area if necessary.

It's not wise to aerate your lawn now. It’s better to wait for the late spring and early summer during the active growth of the Bermuda grass. During this period, water weekly so that the lawn receives approximately one inch of water inclusive of rainfall.

May and June/Late Spring, Early Summer

A common suggestion for Bermuda Grass maintenance is to fertilize every six weeks beginning in late spring. You can however fertilize monthly. Maintain a ratio of 30-0-5 for optimal growth.

Topsoil can be added to your lawn every three weeks. If sudden storms wash away your lawn's topsoil, then you might want to do more light dressing.

Late spring is the time to watch for bugs. If you see holes in your lawn sometimes, it may look as though someone spiked your yard. These may be moles or crows digging up grubs. To avoid this, remove the grubs to prevent moles or others from digging up your lawn again.

Consult our lawn bugs/grubs treatment here.

Moreover, look for lawn fungus during this time as there may be a lot of rain and rising temperatures, which will leave your grass moist. Apply fungicides to treat your lawn, otherwise, your lawn may end up looking unattractive like this.

lawn fungus indentification treatments

Don’t forget to keep your lawn short. You may need to cut it weekly or even more often. A grass height of around 1 and a one-half inch will be fine. Not any longer!

July and August/Summer

In drought conditions or the event of a lack of rain, there may be a chance of Bermuda grass burnouts. In the event of burnout, we can take several steps to prevent our lawns from suffering from this condition:

  1. Allow an extra 1/2 to 1½ inches of grass height growth in high-temperature conditions. This might prevent some scorching as heat will not be able to enter underneath the grass to create burnouts.
  2. Make sure you have a good layer of thatch. About one-quarter inch of thatch is optimal. In case you don't have thatch, use mulch or clippings. Thatching is crucial to maintaining the organic properties of soil in good condition.
  3. Water sprinkling in the early mornings can be very helpful. Be cautious about your watering patterns. Low water may lead to fungus infection. We recommend watering your lawn during the mornings as most of the water will dry by the evening. If it's impossible to water during the morning and you have short water issues, you could apply disease preventers to avoid fungus.
    Ensuring a good top dressing (soil pots sprinkles) on burnouts can also help to protect the organic quality of the soil. Sprinkle half an inch of soil on any burnouts you have in your lawn.

September, October, and November/Autumn

Fall is the time to prepare your lawn for winter. So, we need to ensure the proper supply of nutrients including N-P-K, iron, and amino acids in lawn treatments.

Here are some recommendations for Bermuda grass fall care:

  1. Apply super juice every four weeks up until the first cold spell. As soon as the cold hits, stop feeding the lawn.
  2. Make sure to put some humus down about two months before the cold temperatures hit.
  3. Apply pre-emergent sprays and wait until the cold hits. You can hold off on doing this if you are not having weed issues.
  4. Maintaining a normal grass height is key. However, as soon as the cold hits, allow the grass to grow ½ to 1 inch higher to create frost protection for the grass. The denser the lawn is, the more protection it will have from the cold. Besides, it will create a cool fuzzy brown look. WinterBermudaGrass
  5. Begin an anti-pest treatment (if you haven’t done so yet) before insects hide for the winter.

December/Early Winter

As the first cold spell hits, the grass will go dormant and have a mostly brown appearance.
Winterizing your Bermuda lawn isn't a huge deal. You don’t have much to worry about, the only exception being weeds.

Remember, your Bermuda lawn is entering its dormant stage, so you can worry less until spring rolls around. Let your grass grow taller. Thicker grass will provide some winter lawn insulation.

If you have been picking up and collecting grass clippings, recirculate those and put them back on your lawn. Provide a little fertilizer before the lawn enters its full dormant stage. Apply a small amount of 10-10-10(N-P-K) fertilizers, and you are good!

Apply some pre-emergent for Bermuda grass to eliminate winter weeds. As the grass is in the dormant stage, we can now opt for spot treatment for weeds. Remember, as the Bermuda grass goes dormant, weeds will begin to grow rapidly. The effects of pre-emergent treatments typically will last three to four months.

We recommend using pre-emergents as opposed to weed killers, as weed killers may have a few negative impacts on the growth of the lawn during spring.

Also, try to keep your lawn free of sticks, stones, or any type of debris during this period.

When winter arrives, it's time for you to take a break and relax. Spring will be here before you know it.

General Care and Maintenance For Bermuda Grass

Edging

If you want to have a perfect square or rectangular lawn, then I would say that edging a Bermuda grass lawn without the use of an edger is not a good choice.  You can shape it with a trimmer or with weed eaters, but it will take more time and won’t achieve a particularly clean result. Some garden professionals try to teach methods using a weed eater, but for proper Bermuda, lawn edging, you really must have an edger.

Weed control

Begin by removing broadleaf weeds with a pre-emergent spray.

Crabgrass control and elimination are not problematic. Still, you may be required to use some Bermuda grass burn. After weed control treatment, the lawn should be left to rest for approximately a week or two. Then you can apply super juice.

Bermuda grass is a fast-growing grass in favorable conditions. There is no need to stimulate your lawn to grow, but once any obstacles to its growth like weeds, bugs, etc., have been removed,  Bermuda grass growth will naturally take off.

Aeration

Aeration is a crucial function to achieve and maintain a very healthy lawn. It involves making small holes in the lawn to create space for air and water to penetrate the soil. This will help the roots to grow deeper and give you a healthy and beautiful lawn.

It's best to aerate Bermuda lawns during the growing season, i.e., spring.

A common problem that lawn owners face is choosing between a Plug Aerator and a Spike Aerator.

Plug aerators make plugs deeper than the alternative method. This method enables you to reach the core of the grass and plug it out, whereas spike aeration simply means you poke holes into lawns with a solid tine or fork. It is not necessarily ineffective, but it makes you do more work.

If you want to have the best-looking lawn, I recommend you use plug aeration rather than spike aeration.

A Final Thought

A warm-season grass, Bermuda grass lives with a timetable that differs from many kinds of grass cultivated in northern states or areas. It flourishes in the heat of the summer when it will grow aggressively and vigorously. By following its natural seasonal timetable for caring and maintenance, you will have high-performing grass for a great-looking lawn.

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