Written by 1:19 am Lawn Tips

Diagnosing The 7 Most Common Bermuda Grass Problems

Short Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass can make some of the most beautiful lawns with very limited maintenance. There’s a reason that golf courses and homeowners alike choose Bermuda as their grass of choice. However, problems will pop up from time to time, therefore it is important to be able to easily recognize issues before they become major. Our easy guide will allow you to quickly diagnose and treat some of the most common Bermuda grass problems.

1. Drought Stress

This grass species is one of the more drought tolerant warm season grasses, however for optimal growth, it needs 1” of water throughout the week. Drought stress is a bermuda grass problem that will cause the blades to appear dry-crispy. Additionally, the grass will not quickly rebound when walked on. Extended periods of lack of water will cause the grass to turn brown and become crispy and brittle.

2. Shade

Bermuda grass thrives in full sun lawns. However, in shaded areas where the grass does not receive at least 6 hours of direct sun, the grass becomes stressed. Thinning will occur in these shady spots with still some grass growing. Continuous seasons without shade will yield bare spots that open the lawn up for weed invasions.

3. Weeds

Your Bermuda grass lawn will also be a risk for weeds to develop. Therefore, homeowners should also be on the toes to handle infestations quickly when they strike.

If left untreated, weeds can outcompete your grass for vital nutrients and continue to spread.

When the weeds are finally killed, or die out for the season, your lawn is left with bare spots. Not only are these spots eye sores, but also breeding grounds for future infestations.

February and March is the best time to apply your pre-emergent herbicide.

While your lawn is still dormant and brown, use a weed killer like the professionals use. Isoxaben 75WG is our recommendation for killing weeds before they can develop.

If you have weeds begin to have weeds pop after the grass has turned green, we recommend using Onetime Herbicide.

4. Insects

Although not as common as some of these other problems, insect damage does occur in Bermuda grass lawns. Mole crickets, grubs, ground pearls, bermudagrass mites, bermudagrass scales, and nematodes are the most common insect pests.

Depending on the species, the pest may attack and feed on the blades, roots, rhizomes and stolons directly. This can be recognized by feeding damage or seeing insects directly.

Insect pests may burrow under the turf causing issues, which might be harder to distinguish from other problems.

Typically, a broad spectrum pesticides like Deltagard Granules for above ground pests or Merit 0.5G for above and underground pests will eliminate your problem.

The best times to apply bug killers is in the fall before the first frost. Mid-July applications are also very effective at killing young insects and larval stages.

Diseases

Diseases in bermuda grass occur when warm and damp conditions are prevalent. Additionally, these conditions may be caused by too much irrigation. It can also occur in areas that do not drain well or are overly shady.

If diseases become established and poor conditions continue, they will spread quickly throughout your yard. Therefore, it is best to treat diseases at the first sign of trouble. Alternatively, you can apply preventive treatments, like Prime Source Propiconazole in the Fall before the grass goes dormant.

In addition to treating your lawn, it is important to eliminate the ideal conditions for diseases. Follow proper water guidelines (1” per week) and encourage adequate soil drainage.

3 Most Common Bermuda Grass Diseases

  • Large patch – sometimes referred to as brown patch. This fungus will cause brown, thinning grass in a circle. As the disease spreads over the season, grass may recover in the middle. This large donut-shaped appearance is an identifiable characteristic of large patch.
  • Dollar spot. Another fungus that will cause spots on the leaves that eventually spread across the entire blade. Blades of grass will have a smoky-brown appearance and appear to look dead. Dollar spots will typically be 2-6” in diameter. In heavily infested yards, these small spots may grow together appearing as one. If the spots get large enough, you may have areas of grass recover in the middle, having a donut-shaped appearance.
  • Spring dead spot. A fungus that attacks roots, rhizomes, and stolons of Bermuda grass. Affected parts of the grass will appear black and rotted. Even Though spring dead spot does not typically kill the lawn directly, it will make it more susceptible to freezing temperatures. Damage will not be recognized until affected areas fail to turn green in the spring. Spring dead spot can be easily identified by pulling up some brown areas and checking the roots\rhizomes\stolons. In many situations, grass will recover throughout the summer, however may be susceptible again in the winter. 

Fertilizer Burn

This problem will occur when too much fertilizer is applied to a lawn. Often, this is due as a result of too much nitrogen.

Fertilizer burn will often cause yellowing and streaking in the lawn. Many times you can see the path that the fertilizer was applied from the yellowing.

If fertilizer burn is suspected, increase the amount of irrigation to help flush the excess nutrients from the soil.

Bermuda grass lawns will need between 2 (sandy soils) to 4 (clay soils) pounds of nitrogen (N) in the summer. For best results, divide this rate by three to spread over the summer.  Your type of soils can also affect your nitrogen rates.  Potassium (K), or potash, will not be needed until late summer to build up its resiliency to winter and disease stress.

Add potassium in august for winter hardiness and disease resistance.  Target Specialty Pro 30-0-5 is our recommendation for a bermuda grass fertilizer.

Nutrient Deficiencies

The two most common causes of bermuda grass turning yellow is due to an iron or nitrogen deficiency. These common issues will likely show up in the entire yard or in large sections. This makes nutrients deficiencies identifiable from the smaller spots from insect or disease issues.

Iron is an essential element in chlorophyll production. Not only does chlorophyll help the plant absorb sunlight, but it also causes its green color. Iron deficiencies typically occur in the spring and are identified by green streaking on a yellow blade.

Iron deficiencies can easily be corrected with an application of Ferti-Lome Chelated Liquid Iron.

If the blades of grass are a solid yellow color, it is likely suffering from a nitrogen deficiency.  To correct this problem, apply a fertilizer with higher nitrogen, or first number (N-P-K). In many situations, iron and nitrogen can be applied together.

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