Bermuda grass, scientific name ‘Cynodon dactylon‘ is a grass that originated in Africa. It’s assumed that the grass previously arrived in South America from Bermuda. Although it’s exact time of coming is still unclear.
Bermuda grass is a warm-season grass by nature. It grows almost actively from late spring through the summer months. This perennial grass naturally grows in tropical, sub-tropics and transition zones too. Bermuda grass is one of the few warm season grass that will be seen further north in colder climates. Bermuda grass care is almost easier than many other varieties of grass.
Bermuda grass retains a green color in the warmer tropical south (during average rainfall years). The herb can be grown easily on high to low maintenance schedules. But it depends on usages. It’s not uncommon if the seeded bermudagrass lawns get established or attain full coverage within 60-90 days. The warm season is best for its growth. You should keep in mind that Bermuda goes dormant and turn brown when temperatures drop. It regains in Spring.
Description of Bermuda Grass:
A common question is asked most of the time –
What does bermuda grass look like?
Bermuda grass leaves (also called blades) are typically grey-green and usually short (2 to 15 centimeters. or 0.79 to 5.91 inches).
Stems of Bermuda grass may grow within a range of 1-30 centimeters or (0.39-11.81) inches tall. They are slightly tinged purple and often flattened.
Its root system is profound. In situations like drought, bermudagrass roots can grow up to 2 meters(approximately 6.6 feet) deep.
Bermuda grass creeps along the ground wherever the node(part of a plant stem from which one or more leaves emerge) is being touched by the ground forming a dense mat.
Generally, the growth of bermudagrass begins at temperatures higher than 15 degree Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) with optimum growth ranging from 24-27 degree Celsius (75-99 Degree Fahrenheit).
Bermuda Grass Features:
- Heat Tolerant – Bermuda grass can withstand severe conditions like high temperatures and drought. But it needs weekly watering and routine care to remain in good condition.
- Resilient – Bermuda grass can quickly recover from damage.
- Fewer Complexities – Bermuda Grass grows easily in perfect conditions. That’s why Bermuda grass care is comparatively more straightforward.
- Unfavorable to Cold Conditions – This grass is highly intolerant to cold conditions. It’s color fades away becoming brownish due to cold temperatures.
- Aggressiveness – The rapid growth feature of the grass during favorable conditions makes it aggressive too! Additional measures need to be taken to control its unwanted spreading in lawns and gardens.
- Anti-Shade – As we know Bermuda grass grows in high temperatures, it also implies that it is allergic to shade. It requires a minimum of 6 hours of sun. Otherwise, its growth may hamper and eventually, the grass may become less favorable to growth.
Bermuda Grass Care Following Different Seasons:
Bermuda Grass Care Early Spring (late February)
In Early Springs, Bermuda grass starts to get green. Remember, cold spells may come again, so it’s wise not to push your lawn too early.
Early Springs is not the right time to apply granular. Apply pre-emergents and super juice. Do it every 2-3 weeks. Once the green is out there on the lawn, start scalping. It allows the sun to hit the soil and growing bermudagrass.
Bermuda Grass Spring Care (March-April)
Spring is a crucial time for you to get a very healthy and beautiful lawn. You have to do most of the works related to bermudagrass care in spring.
As spring starts, you will start to see small green sprigs coming out gradually. When you see you have much of those in your bermuda lawn, you should start scalping.
Many people don’t scalp their bermudagrass which is a big mistake!
After the dormant stage, the grass is going to die, and you will have all those brown grass. You have to take all of them down as low as you can. You have to make room for new sprouts to come out.
Besides, if you have brown grass on your bermuda lawn, you will see the green grass grows below that brown part making it look ugly. Don’t put down granular fertilizers before scalping your bermuda lawn as you will be taking it out the compost while scalping.
Now, you would want to put down your fertilizer maintaining a 20-5-10 ratio granular.
TIP- Apply some spray over your bermuda lawn with a ratio of 30-0-0 after applying fertilizer. This extra nitrogen supply would give a boost to your bermuda yard. This tip is best to use when there is no rain forecasted for three days or more.
It’s not wise to aerate now as you would want to wait for active growth season of bermudagrass.
Bermuda Grass Care Late Spring (May-June)
Many suggest to put down fertilizers every six weeks in late spring. But, it is also fine to apply every four weeks. Maintaining a ratio of 30-0-5 is good for optimum growth.
You can put some light dressing (top-dress/top soiling) on your lawn every three weeks. If there are sudden storms that wash away your lawn’s top soiling, then you might want to do more of some light dressing.
Late spring is the time to watch for bugs. You may see some holes on your lawn sometimes. It may look like someone spiked your yard. These are mostly done by either moles or crows digging up the grubs. So you surely don’t want to make your lawn look ugly. Removing those grubs is the solution to prevent moles from digging up holes in your lawn again.
Look at our lawn bugs/grubs treatment here.
Moreover, you should look for lawn fungus during this time as you are going to get a lot of rains and temperatures rising, making it moist. Apply Fungicides to treat your lawn. Otherwise, you may have a horrible lawn like this. (image)
Don’t forget to keep your lawn short. You may have to cut it every 4-5 days. Grass height of around 1 and a half inch will be fine. Not more than that!
Bermuda Grass Summer care (July-august)
In drought or no rain conditions, there might be chances of burnouts of the bermudagrass. In that case, we can take several steps to prevent our lawns from burnout issues:
1. Add an extra 1/2 to 1½ inches of the grass height at high-temperature conditions. This might prevent some scorching heat to enter that may cause burnouts.
2. Make sure you have a good layer of thatch. About a quarter inch of thatch would be perfect. In case you don’t have thatch, use mulch or clippings. Thatching is very crucial to
keep the organic properties of soil in good condition.
3. Some sprinkles of water 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 would be soaked or dried. 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 soils on burnouts you have in your lawn.
Bermuda Grass Fall Care (late September-November)
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, Amino Acids).
Following are some fundamental techniques for Bermuda grass fall care:
- Apply super juice every four weeks before the first cold spell. As soon as cold hits, we need to stop feeding the lawn.
- Make sure to put some humic before about two months of cold temperature hits.
- Put down pre-emergent sprays and wait until cold hits. Hold off, if you are not having weed issues.
- Maintaining a normal length is the key. But as soon as cold hits, allow the grass to grow up by ½-1 inches to give frost protection to the grass. Because the denser it is, the more protection from cold it gets. Besides, it will give you a cool fuzzy brown look. [image]
- Start anti-bugs treatment (if you haven’t done yet) before they hide for winter.
Bermuda Grass Care Early Winter (December)
The first cold spell hits now. The grass is going dormant and mostly looks brown.
Winterizing your bermuda lawn isn’t a huge deal. You don’t have much to worry about. The only thing you should worry about is weeds.
Remember, your bermuda lawn is entering its dormant stage. So, until spring you can worry less about your bermuda lawn. Let your grass grow taller. Thicker grass would provide some winter lawn insulation.
If you have been picking up clippings, recirculate those and put them back on your lawn. Provide some little fertilizers before its full dormant stage. You don’t want to push your grass in this time. Apply a small amount of 10-10-10(N-P-K) fertilizers, and you are good!
Apply some pre-emergent for bermuda grass to work on winter weeds. As the grass is in the dormant stage, we can now go for spot treatment for weeds. Remember, as the bermuda grass goes dormant, weeds will start to grow fast, and you don’t want that to happen. Pre-emergents typically will last three to four months.
We recommend using pre-emergents over weed killers as weed-killers may have some negative impacts for the growth of the lawn during spring.
When winter hits fully, it’s time you take a break and relax.
Bermuda Grass Care Late winter (late January)
Now, you have to use your research and decide on your exact area. Late winter works are often the keys to a great summer lawn.
Spray pre-emergents on crabgrass and most weeds. Try to apply the pre-emergents when the grass starts to green up, and soil temps are still below 50 degrees fahrenheit. The map below shows us the perfect time to put down sprays.
Usually, it is wise to apply the pre-emergent sprays a few weeks before the time mentioned in the graph(To stay more cautious). If you choose to use sprays, put down a few weeks earlier and if you want to apply granular, follow the exact time indicated in the map.
If you want to have perfect square lawns, then I would say that edging Bermuda grass lawn without an edger is not a right choice. You may do it with trimmer or weed eaters, but you won’t get it done faster and cleaner. Many people try to teach methods using a weed eater, but for proper Bermuda lawn edging, you must have an edger.
We should firstly go for removing broadleaf weeds with a pre-emergent.
But If we go for the crabgrass, it’s not a problem. Still, we should stay prepared for some Bermuda grass burn. After weed control treatment, we should leave the lawn for about a week or two. Then we can apply super juice.
Bermuda grass is a fast-growing grass when it gets favorable conditions. We should not worry about pushing it to grow, but as soon as we remove the obstacles to its growth (Weeds, bugs, etc.), then Bermuda grass naturally pushes itself to grow.
Aeration is a crucial function to achieve a very healthy lawn. It involves making small holes in lawn to make some space for air and water penetrate the soil. That helps the roots to grow deep and give you a very healthy and beautiful lawn.
It’s best to aerate bermuda lawns in growing seasons, i.e., spring.
A widespread problem that we face is choosing between Plug Aerator and Spike Aerator.
Plug aerators help making plugs deeper than the other method. This method helps you reach the core of the grass and plug it out.
Whereas, spike aeration simply means to poke into the lawns through a solid tine or fork. It is quite ineffective and it makes you do more work.
You would want to make your lawn look best! I recommend you for plug aeration over spike aeration.