What is Bermuda Grass?

Overview

The scientific name for Bermuda grass is Cynodon dactylon. It is also known as couch grass, devil grass, wiregrass and dogtooth grass. Bermuda grass creates a vigorous, fast-growing lawn with medium to fine texture. In frost-free climates, Bermuda grass will stay green year-round; otherwise, it turns brown as soon as it freezes. Bermuda grass tolerates heat and drought because its roots reach deep into the soil. It is tolerant of heavy foot traffic and grows best when irrigated and lightly fertilized twice a year.

Function

Bermuda grass is a turf grass. This is the species commonly planted on sports fields, public lawns, parks and golf courses in warm areas. It is also grown as livestock forage. Bermuda grass is used in more than 100 countries in warm and tropical climates. It is found in Australia, Africa, India, South America and the southern half of the United States.

Types

Different types of Bermuda grass are being developed to improve sports turf. Sunturf entered the United States from South Africa in 1949 and is widely used for lawns in the southwest. It has a fine texture and is a low-growing, dark green variety. Tiflawn, which spreads fast and has a medium texture, was developed in 1952 and is used on sports fields and lawns in the southeastern United States. Tifgreen was created in 1956 and is used on golf courses because of its density, fine texture and soft leaves. This grass is vulnerable to discoloration in areas where air pollution is a problem. Pee Dee, a mutation of Tifgreen, is used on golf courses in the southeastern United States.

Features

Bermuda grass seeds are extremely small and average about 2,000,000 seeds per pound. Bermuda grass should be planted at the rate of 1 to 2 lbs. of seeds per 1,000 square feet in the spring or early fall. It takes about seven to 25 days to germinate. Plugs or sprigs can also be planted 4 to 12 inches apart.

Conditions

Bermuda grass needs lots of sunlight to grow well. It does not like low light conditions and is not considered a species to plant in shady areas. Bermuda grass does well in temperatures above 75 degrees F, and it thrives where temperatures remain at 95 to 100 degrees for long periods of time. Bermuda grass prefers a light-textured, well-draining soil with high fertility. It does grow in a variety of soils such as heavy clay and deep sand as well as acid and alkaline soils. It will tolerate saline conditions in the soil and some flooding. It does require high nitrogen content in the soil and warm soil temperatures of 65 degrees F and above. This temperature is needed for rhizome, root and stolon growth. The rhizome is the underground runner and the stolon is the above ground runner. The ideal soil temperature for root growth is about 80 degrees F.

Warning

Bermuda grass is an invasive species and will creep into flower beds, gardens or over pavement. This grass spreads through stolons and rhizomes that root in the soil and create new plants. Bermuda grass will replant itself if left on moist soil after it has been cut. It is disease resistant, but can be afflicted by dollar spot, spring dead spot, leaf spot, brownpatch and Pythium. These are all fungi diseases. Pests that eat Bermuda grass include armyworms, cutworms, sod webworms, Bermuda grass mites and mealybugs. White grubs will feed on the roots.

Keywords: Bermuda grass, turf, lawn

About this Author

Karen Carter spent three years as a technology specialist in the public school system and her writing has appeared in the "Willapa Harbor Herald" and the "Rogue College Byline." She has an Associate of Arts from Rogue Community College with a certificate in computer information systems.