Written by 7:56 pm Pillars, Staff's Picks

Bermuda Grass – Pros and Cons

Bermuda Lawn

If you have ever admired the lush, green grass on a golf course in the southern United States, it is most likely bermuda grass. Bermuda grass comes in numerous varieties and hybrid versions. This resilient and hearty grass makes it ideal for lawns, pastures, and golf courses. Bermuda grass is an easy to establish and does well starting from seed, sod, or plugs.

Bermuda Grass - Pros

  • Easy to grow
  • Heat and drought tolerant
  • Grows well in full sun yards
  • Resilient to hight traffic
  • Recovers quickly from damage
  • Can be mowed very short

Bermuda Grass - Cons

  • Less tolerant of cold weather
  • Goes dormant after a few days of cool weather
  • Aggressive – will grow into other grass type yards or flower beds.
  • Not shade tolerant
  • Shady areas will yield thin patches where weeds will grow

It does not take a large staff of professionals or a hefty budget to keep your bermuda grass lawn looking like a golf course. Follow our proven maintenance strategy below to get the most out of your lawn. Also, check out our Bermuda Grass FAQ page for answers to the most common bermuda grass questions.

Bermuda Maintenance Schedule & Strategy

February – April (Before Green Up)

Depending on where you are located, your bermuda grass lawn may still be dormant in February and March. As nightly temperatures consistently stay above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the grass will begin to come out of dormancy. However, before this occurs is the best time to apply your pre-emergent herbicide. While your lawn is still brown, use a weed killer like the professionals use. Prodiamine 65 WDG is our recommendation for killing weeds before they can develop. Keep in mind though, most pre-emergent herbicides will only block weeds for 45-60 days. Depending on how early in the year your initial treatment occurs, and if your lawn is still in dormancy, you may be able to apply two treatments for longer lasting control.

During these early spring months, while the grass is still dormant, mow your lawn in preparation for summer. Cutting your lawn short, around 1” in height, and bagging the blade clippings will help break up any thatch. In extremely thick areas, you might need to use a light rake. Breaking up the thatch is important to allow new turf to establish quickly and have ample room to establish.

Depending on your location and severity of winter, your bermuda grass lawn, it will begin to turn green in April and May. If you are unable to get a second pre-emergent treatment or begin to have weeds pop in the middle of the summer, we recommend using Ferti-lome Weed Free Zone.

If you are unsure about the nutritional needs of your soil, you may wish to conduct soil tests for a few different spots around your lawn. We recommend conducting these soil tests before the growing season. That way, you'll have the information back before you actually need it.

scooping soil with a trowel

It's ideal to collect samples for a soil test before the growing seasons begins. This way, you'll have the data when you need them.

May – August

Even though bermuda grass is heat and drought tolerant, during the summer months it needs at least 1” of water per week. Early morning watering is the best time for bermuda grass lawns. Drought stress in bermuda grass lawns will cause the blades to appear dry-crispy and not quickly rebound when walked on. Blades might also begin to fold or curl.

By this time you should already have your soil test results back. Ideal pH for optimal growth is between 6.0 and 6.5. Add lime to bring up the pH and sulfur to reduce. Along with the appropriate amount of lime or sulfur needed, the soil test will also highlight needed nutrients. Typically, 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 effect 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. Check out our Know Before You Grow article. It explains how to calculate the right amount of fertilizer. With this knowledge, you'll avoid using too little or too much fertilizer.

By the summer months, your lawn should be fully green and ready to begin mowing regularly. Bermuda grass can handle being cut very short, but on average we recommend maintaining at 1 to 2”. Early in the season, start longer and steadily work your way down to your goal. In shady areas of your lawn or during stressful times (Ex. Disease and Drought), maintain longer than 2” in length.

If you want to get that golf course look, ditch your conventional lawn mower and invest in a good reel mower. The Fiskar 17” Staysharp is our top pick. Regardless of the type of mower you use, make sure that you alway keep a sharp blade to reduce damage and undue stress.

By mid summer that pre-emergent herbicide, or weed killer, will likely begin to wear off. Warm weather weeds might pop up in thin or damaged areas of the lawn. For these summer annual and perennial weeds, use a post-emergent herbicide. Just like we recommended earlier for weeds after spring green up of your lawn, Ferti-lome Weed Free Zone will be your best option. If you are having problems with sedges, smash them with SedgeHammer.

Lastly, damaged, diseased or bare spots not are only unsightly, but also open your yard up for weeds to grow.  Bermuda grass is very tolerant of traffic and can resist damage, but it is not immune.  Small areas can be filled in with sand to encourage faster recovery and regrowth.  Large areas of bare ground can be filled in with bermuda grass sod or plugs.

Manicured Bermuda Grass

Like almost every lawn turf species, the summer growing months is when bermuda grass can shine.

September – January

As fall and winter begins, continue to water your bermuda grass lawn, at a rate of 1” per week, until lawn until it goes into dormancy. This typically will occur as evenings begin to reach below 50 degrees. In many parts of the country, September and October are the driest months, therefore sufficient irrigation is more important than ever. Large shifts between warm days and cool evenings can also increase the grass’s need for water.
In addition to watering as needed, continue to mow the lawn until it begins to go into dormancy. A good rule of thumb to follow is begin to mow the lawn at a longer length when evening temperatures begin to dip below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help build resiliency during the winter months.

If you were unable to add potassium (potash) during the late summer months, early fall is still a good time do do it.

After your bermuda grass lawn has gone into dormancy, apply a pre-emergent like, Prodiamine 65 WDG to control winter annual and perennial weeds. If you favor a granular pre-emergent weed killer, we recommend using Andersons 0.48 Barricade Herbicide – 18 Ib.

Following our yearly plan for bermuda grass is the best avenue to make, or keep, your bermuda grass lawn looking great! Bermuda grass is a great choice for dry, sunny lawns with a lot of foot traffic. However, even though it is tolerant and forgiving of many stressors, taking good care of your lawn will ensure it makes you proud for many years to come.

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