Bermuda grass, or bermudagrass, is a warm-season turf grass widely used where summers are warm, water plentiful and winters mild. Bermuda grass lawns typically appear in U.S. Department of Agriculture's hardiness zones 7 and higher. Common Bermuda grass, or Cynodon dactylon, can be grown and established from seed, but cut sod of this grass is easy to install as it quickly sends out new horizontal stems, called stolons, and slender rhizome roots deep into the soil to create a dense turf mat.
The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization says common Bermuda grass is a pan-tropical grass or weedy species. Its likely origins are in India.
In the United States, this grass species was imported from Africa or India in the late 18th or early 19th centuries, according to Texas A&M University. This grass' ability to prosper in warm, wet, sandy soils near the seacoast found it widely grown in the British colony of Bermuda. In Australia, this grass is called "couch grass." It's "kweekgras" in South Africa, "gramillia" in Argentina and "devil's grass" in India. Elsewhere in the world, it's called Bermuda grass.
Common Bermuda grass develops a fibrous root system with yellowish rhizomes that spread under the soil surface. Above ground, stolons spread across the soil surface and root at stem nodes (where buds connect to stems) into the soil. It becomes a dense mat that cuts well and harvests in sod pieces for instant transplanting and installation. Thin, light-green leaf blades protrude 2 to 15 inches above from the stolons. Wispy flower heads occur if never mowed. Texas A&M University states that once temperatures remain below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the leaves turn brown. The stolons and roots regrow in spring after temperatures remain above 70 degrees.
Common Bermuda grass readily produces and sprouts from seeds, stolons and rhizomes. Therefore, it may prove difficult or impractical to obtain this grass as sod for installation. The University of Kentucky says that Bermuda grass is often less expensive and more practical to start from root and stem "sprigs" in the spring and summer months. If acquired as cut sod, lay it in early summer when warmth is abundant. Keep it moist to coax root growth into the native soil within 30 to 60 days. Fall and winter are bad times to lay Bermuda grass sod.
Texas A&M University says many weeds can establish alongside Bermuda grass sprigs in a lawn. Therefore, cut rolls or mats of Bermuda grass sod are advantageous as they naturally cover the bare soil and smother any weed seeds present on soil surface layers. For continued vigor of Bermuda grass, use high-nitrogen fertilizer, especially in sandy soils. Only wet, poorly draining soil environments lead to the demise of Bermuda grass.