Bermuda grass provides a low maintenance, drought tolerant lawn for those living in regions with mild winters and high temperature summers. Bermuda grass spreads both by seed and by stolon; stolons are shoots or rhizomes that grow above and/or below ground. This perennial turf requires minimal amounts of water, and can be seeded over with rye grass for winter lawns. You do, however, have to cut Bermuda grass close to the ground and adjust the heights of your lawnmower blades throughout the summer season.
Use a reel or rotary mower to cut Bermuda grass to a one-inch height in early spring. Bermuda grass emerges from winter dormancy when night temperatures reach and exceed 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the new grass reaches a height of over one inch, use a rotary mower to “trim” the new lawn.
Continue to maintain a one-inch height for your lawn throughout the spring season. Use a rotary or reel mower to reduce the risk of scalping. This occurs when the blades of a motorized mower are “tipped,” usually due to irregularities in the ground. The side of the grass is slashed; this may result in bare spots and brown spots.
Adjust the blades on your motorized mower to cut the grass to a height of two inches. Cut your lawn with your mower once every week to 10 days during the hot summer months.
Change the direction in which you mow every two to three weeks. This encourages healthy, consistent growth and reduces “tire tracks” in your lawn.
For example, mow your lawn in an east/west pattern for two to three weeks, and then mow it in a north/south pattern for two to three weeks.
Alternate bagging the clippings and mulching the clippings. Bag the clippings one week. Allow the clippings to stay on the lawn as you mow the next week. The clippings will mulch the lawn and reduce your need for fertilizers. If you see thatch build up, however, cease mulching until the thatch breaks down. Thatch is the collection of decomposing organic matter, such as grass clippings, at the ground level in your lawn.
Prepare your Bermuda grass lawn for dormancy. When you see the lawn begin to brown in early to mid-autumn, adjust the blades on your mower to cut the grass to a one-inch height. If your mower does not allow for that low of a height, set it for the lowest setting and cut the lawn. Use a rotary or reel mower to reduce the height to one inch. This prepares the lawn for winter dormancy and for over-seeding with rye grass, should you want a winter lawn.