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Crabgrass vs. Bermuda Grass - Which should I Pick?

Writen By
Marry E. Smith [Seasoned Gardener]

While Crabgrass and Bermuda grass may share some similarities, they are two very different plants.

One of the two can create a beautiful, lush lawn while the other is an invasive weed that you do not want in your garden, yard, or lawn under any circumstances.

Are Crabgrass and Bermuda Grass the Same or Similar?

No, they are not the same grass, and yes, they do resemble each other. In what ways do they resemble each other?

  • Both of these grasses are characterized by rapid growth
  • Both tend to behave as garden “bullies”, by overwhelming other vegetation
  • Both are invasive and can completely overrun a yard or lawn if they are not controlled

One of these grasses, when properly cared for and controlled can reward you with a beautiful lawn that will be the envy of your neighborhood.

Crabgrass

Crabgrass

Crabgrass is a weed and an annoying one at that. Impossible to eradicate, it is not useful in any form. The United States has two species that are common and they invade fields, lawns, and flower beds.

It has a rough texture when touched or walked upon and is unattractive growing in unattractive dense clumps. This grass will grow anywhere and in multiple conditions although it prefers compact, sandy soil.

This grass grows close to the ground and thanks to growth nodes, takes root wherever they touch the soil. While they may appear easy to pull from the ground, they disperse thousands of seeds, so removing them individually isn’t worth the effort.

Germination begins in the spring and will continue all summer long. Crabgrass seeds can lie dormant for decades before germinating. And one single crabgrass plant can produce as much as 150,000 seeds or more in a single growing season.

Crabgrass Growing Conditions

Crabgrass isn’t demanding. It loves compact sandy soil, but any soil will do. It loves both direct sunlight and water. So, if you don’t care for your lawn and have bare patches, expect crabgrass to visit.

Once it roots, it will invade with the intent to conquer. It will not be easy to eradicate as crabgrass thrives in the harshest of conditions and will overrun any weak or struggling plants you may have.

Crabgrass Prevention

Crabgrass Prevention

The best way to prevent crabgrass is by taking care of your lawn. If you have the right turfgrass in the right growing conditions, weeds will be choked out. Avoiding the development of bare spots will help as this is a common way for crabgrass to enter.

Pre-emergents for crabgrass can be applied before the temperature gets to 60°F.  Post-emergent crabgrass control herbicides can be applied midsummer if necessary.

Bermuda Grass

Green Grass

Bermuda Grass prefers tropical and subtropical climate conditions finding its ideal home in the southern regions of the United States, as it is sensitive to cold weather. It is presumed to have appeared in the South as early as the beginning of the 1800s.

This grass seeks full direct sunlight with well-draining soil for optimal growth. Common Bermuda grass species may appear coarse, but some specific species and hybrids will have finer textures making them perfect as lawn grasses.

A Tolerant Perennial

Bermuda grass creates a luscious, soft lawn carpet to walk on, and when well cared for, has an appealing attractive appearance. Tolerant of heat, humidity, and salt, it manages to survive arid climates and drought. As a perennial, it returns from year to year and will grow from late spring through the summer months. In the winter it goes dormant.

Bermuda Grass Growing Conditions

Its root system is fibrous and perennial with exceptionally vigorous rhizomes that make for a deep root system explaining its resistance to drought and heat. It will require a regular maintenance schedule including watering, fertilization, and mowing to maintain an attractive deep green well-manicured look. The soil pH should measure between 5.8 and 7, although this grass can tolerate alkaline soil conditions.

Bermuda grass is a creeper which explains its aggressive growth. It requires containment otherwise you will find it in sidewalk and driveway crevices, and anywhere else it can reach. Consider this to be a high-maintenance grass.

Bermuda Grass Planting

Unlike many kinds of lawn grasses that are laid with sod, Bermuda grass can be cultivated directly using seeds. Planting new lawns or filling in bare spots is much easier. Ideally, it should be planted after the final frost in the spring. This is also a perfect moment to over-seed if you already have a Bermuda grass lawn.

Bermuda Grass Maintenance

More maintenance is crucial. Monthly fertilization is recommended during the growing season, and plan on mowing twice weekly to keep your lawn height at 1 to 1.5-inches.

If you experience an extended period of drought, know that your Bermuda grass will go dormant. Should you want a deep green lawn during the hot summer months, watering becomes a priority. By watering often, the grass will not go dormant.

Bermuda Grass Uses

A resilient grass, it will withstand environmental stress such as heavy cattle traffic and is used by dairy and livestock ranchers as grazing grass, or as turf for athletic fields and sporting activities like golf.

Crabgrass vs. Bermuda

The most obvious difference between the two is that Crabgrass is a weed, whereas Bermuda Grass is potential lawn grass. Bermuda Grass does indeed have aggressive growth habits but is a problem only when left uncontrolled. When mismanaged, it is invasive and will enter garden beds and paving.

Once it has spread, it can be difficult to eliminate, however, this also is the reason that it can hold its own against crabgrass. If your Bermuda grass lawn is well maintained, crabgrass will have much more difficulty when trying to invade.

FAQ

Is crabgrass bad?

No, it’s a weed that is rough and ugly but causes no harm to the environment. It is also invasive, so it is capable of overrunning other plants and grasses.

Can Bermuda Grass prevent Crabgrass?

It doesn’t prevent crabgrass. Bermuda grass is also considered a weed by many. With good maintenance, it is capable of competing with Crabgrass and not being overrun by it.  It also creates an aesthetically pleasing lawn.

A Final Thought

Although both are often considered weeds and do share similarities, Bermuda grass can create a beautiful lawn while Crabgrass remains an unattractive weed.

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WELCOME TO H&F
HI, I'M Marry E. Smith
Seasoned Gardener
Mary E. Smith is an American Italian residing on a country hillside with her husband, six dogs, and two cats. Both she and her husband dedicate their free time to gardening. They regularly cook and eat produce from his vegetable garden while Elizabeth dedicates her efforts to ornamental plants and flowers.
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