Bermudagrass

Bermudagrass is a medium to fine-textured warm-season grass that provides a dense, medium to dark lawn. It grows aggressively, which allows it to establish quickly, outcompete most weed species, provide excellent wear tolerance, and recover rapidly from wear or disease. The downside of these traits is that bermudagrass can also be invasive and hard to control and will grow into flowerbeds and other landscaped areas. It also requires more regular maintenance than some other warm season grass species.

Is bermudagrass right for my lawn?

Bermudagrass can be grown in Zone 7 and higher. Within this range, it will tolerate some cold, going dormant and losing its green color until the temps increase. Highly tolerant of wear, it is a good choice for lawns that see a lot of use. It tolerates most soils except for poorly drained ones and can also tolerate drought and salinity. Because it does not tolerate shade, it is not the right choice for lawns without a lot of direct sun exposure.

Establishing a bermudagrass lawn

Bermudagrasses are typically established vegetatively by planting sprigs, sod, or plugs. Only common  bermudagrass cultivars can be established by seed. Except for the warmest parts of the country, the best time to establish a bermudagrass lawn is when the weather is warm enough to allow it to establish before cooler temperatures set in. In the warmest parts of the country, such as southern Florida, a bermudagrass lawn can be established any time of the year.

New lawns have a greater irrigation need than established lawns and therefore it is important to irrigate frequently and lightly until a viable root system takes hold (usually about 3 to 4 weeks after sodding). For example, multiple short irrigations throughout the day for a week to 10 days following planting helps the grass begin establishing a root system without drying out.  Following the first week, irrigation can be reduced to daily for a week or so, and reduced further to 2-3 times a week until established – usually about 3 to 4 weeks if using sod.

Caring for your bermudagrass lawn

Fertilization: Bermudagrass has a medium level of nutrient needs. Lawns should be fertilized after the turning fully green in the spring or can be fertilized year round in those places (like South Florida) where it does not go dormant during the winter. In areas where the soils have a high pH (>7.0), yellow leaf blades may indicate an iron or manganese deficiency.

Mowing: Mow bermudagrass when it is between 1 “to 2”, making sure not to remove more than a third of the total leaf blade with any one mowing. You may have to mow several times a week to maintain bermudagrass under 2” during periods of rapid growth.

Watering: Established lawns should be watered as needed to maintain green color. However, if allowed to go dormant during drought, it will revive and resume its green color and begin growing once watered sufficiently.

Pests: On sandy soils, bermudagrass can be invaded by sting-nematodes, especially during hot, dry periods. Yellowing and general thinning of turf can be signs of damage from these nematodes. Mole crickets can also be a major insect pest of bermudagrass.

Diseases: Bermudagrass is susceptible to brown patch and dollar spot.

Weeds: Because of the density of bermudagrass lawns, they typically do not have extensive weed issues.