Tips on Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass is among the more popular turf grasses for several reasons, most of which can be summed up in two words: it's tough. Able to withstand a variety of conditions and tolerate consistent wear, Bermuda grass is a favorite for athletic fields, golf courses and other high-traffic spaces. While it can survive with little pampering, Bermuda will reward certain maintenance practices with an especially dense, deeply-colored turf that is pleasing to the eye.

The Right Climate

Make sure your climate is well-suited for Bermuda grass before you plant. Bermuda is popular in the deep South because the environmental conditions there are ideal for its growth. Best adapted to tropical and subtropical climates, Bermuda thrives in areas where high temperatures, mild winters and moderate rainfall are the norm. It can be grown in some areas of the transitional zone of the U.S., or places where the temperatures seldom fall below 10 degrees F.

Abundant Sunshine

Make sure the majority of your lawn receives full sun. As tolerant as Bermuda grass tends to be, shade is the one thing this type of turf won't endure. Bermuda may briefly establish in shaded areas, but will thin out and disappear over time.

Controlling Thatch

Keep an eye out for thatch build-up. Because of its rapid growth rate, Bermuda grass has a tendency to develop excessive thatch over time. Assess the condition of your lawn in the fall by cutting out a triangle-shaped plug of sod and checking the thickness of the layer of material between the green blades on top and the top soil underneath. If the thatch layer is greater than 3/4 inch, plan to aerate the lawn in the spring using a core aerator or power rake to improve the penetration of air and water to the roots of your turf. Wait until spring green-up has occurred before performing this task.

Feeding

Fertilize your lawn regularly to promote optimum health and appearance. Every one or two years, perform a soil test to determine the needs of your lawn and apply fertilizer accordingly. Experts from the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service recommend using slow-release nitrogen fertilizers, as the fast-release varieties can sometimes "burn" the turf. The slow-release types will also help the turf maintain its deep green color more consistently over time. They also suggest applying fertilizer when the turf is dry.

Mowing

Mow your Bermuda lawn weekly during the peak growing season (summer), if not more often. Keep the grass at about 1 to 1 1/2 inches high, never cutting off more than one-third of the total length in one mowing. Also, take care to sharpen your mower blades, as dull blades shred the tips of the grass rather than cutting them cleanly, which gives the lawn a whitish appearance on the surface.

Keywords: growing bermuda grass, bermuda grass tips, maintaining bermuda grass

About this Author

Dana Hall McCain is a freelance writer based in Dothan, Ala., and is a a regular contributor to numerous regional publications. She writes features and columns on a variety of topics, including the outdoors, faith and health/wellness. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Auburn University in public relations/communication in 1995.