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Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass will stop your lawn from growing properly.

How to Spread Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass is a hearty grower and is viewed by many as an aggressive invasive species. It readily seeds, spreads and takes over a lawn area given its preferred conditions. Sunlight, ample water and fertilizer and self-seeding will speed up the spread of bermuda grass. If desired, bermuda grass can naturally overtake another established lawn grass.

Water your bermuda grass to keep the soil just below the thatch evenly moist throughout the growing season. Apply at least an inch of water per week over the entire lawn expanse. Make one deep watering or break the watering into two 1/2-inch applications in a seven day period. Excessive heat and or dry conditions may drive up the water requirements and conversely rainfall can diminish the need for irrigation.

Feed your bermuda grass regularly with a good quality water-soluble lawn formula. Follow product label directions for dosing and timing. Always feed over pre-watered lawn to reduce the risk of burn. Use a slow release formula to cut down on the number of applications per year while still achieving that same benefits of more frequent applications.

Mow your bermuda grass to a depth of 1/2 inch to 2 inches. Sunlight helps bermuda grass seed germinate, so if you are needing to establish the lawn rapidly mowing on the shorter side of the spectrum will help speed germination. Leave the capture basket off of the mower to redistribute seeds from the mowed seed heads over the lawn where they can germinate.

How to Kill Bermuda Grass

Visit your local home improvement store or garden center and ask for herbicide specifically meant for Bermuda grass. The sprays are easy to use and kill only the Bermuda grass and other weeds, without killing your other plants or damaging your lawn. Round Up is just one company that makes this type of product.

Locate the areas of your lawn or garden where the Bermuda grass is currently growing. Bermuda grass looks similar to crabgrass and has up to seven branches shooting up from the ground. The leaves on the branches feature white veins and they may have some spiky pieces as well.

Attach the spray nozzle to the top of the bottle, following the instructions listed on the bottle. You typically need to unscrew the lid and remove the foil before adding the spray nozzle. Direct the nozzle at the Bermuda grass, spraying an even coating across the surface of the grass.

Cover the treated areas with plastic sheets and lay bricks on each corner, to fully weight down the sheets and keep them from moving. The heat from the sun helps the Bermuda grass fully absorb the herbicide and makes it dry faster.

Spot treat your lawn at least once a week. Check for any signs that the Bermuda grass is returning and spray any small areas you see. While the herbicide kills the weed quickly, it can still come back. The sooner you spray any new offshoots, the easier it is to control the problem.

How to Mix Bermuda Grass With Fescue

Use around 5 lbs. of equal parts Bermuda and fescue grass seed for every 1,000 square feet of planting soil.

Fill the hopper of a seed-spreader with the mixed grass seed and follow the directions for each grass seed when figuring out the hopper settings.

Roll the spreader slowly over the prepared soil surface, which needs to be prepped about a day before seeding, at a consistent walking pace. Starting at one edge of the lawn, lay the seed back and forth in parallel rows over the planting area, making even lines around the edges. After the first completion, repeat it one more time to layer the seed thickly at a 90-degree angle. This will ensure even coverage.

Touch up bare spots manually that appear while the lawn is growing with the same mixture of fescue and bermuda grass. This will make sure you have a consistently filled in lawn.

Bermuda Grass Problems

Growing Conditions

Bermuda grass is suitable for tropical and sub-tropical climates, where temperatures are high in the summer and mild in the winter. It requires a moderate to high amount of rainfall or irrigation, but does not tolerate poor drainage.

Bermuda grass requires high levels of nitrogen fertilizer--a minimum of 1/2 pound per 1,000 square feet per month. Larger amounts of fertilizer are required where turf quality is important, as much as 1 1/2 pounds per 1,000 square feet per month.

Pests

Bermuda grass mites and mealybugs suck juice from stems of grass, which results in stunted growth. White grubs feed on the roots, which kills the grass. Armyworms, cutworms and sod webworms also attack Bermuda grass.

Baccillus thuringensis is a biological control for worms, while white milky spore disease is used to control white grubs. Chemical pesticides are also available for the treatment of insects and other pests on Bermuda grass.

Diseases

Bermuda grass is affected by several fungal diseases, such as dollar spot, brown patch, spring dead spot and Pythium. It is also susceptible to nematode damage.

Fungicidal sprays can be used to prevent fungal diseases, as well as treat them.

Other Problems

Bermuda grass does not grow well in shady areas, resulting in thin patches. Weeds will grow in the thin patches, as well as in thin areas caused by other environmental stresses, pest or diseases.

During times of drought, Bermuda grass goes into a semi-dormant state and turns brown. Irrigation will be needed to keep the grass green.

Bermuda grass is not cold-tolerant and will be killed by temperatures in the low teens.

How to Water Bermuda Grass in the Winter

Slow down watering Bermuda grass in the fall to about once every five to six days. Water in the morning or evening when the soil will retain the most water.

Stop watering in the winter when grass begins to turn yellow. At this time, many homeowners plant annual rye grass on top of the Bermuda grass to grow green during the winter season. The rye grass will die in the spring just when the Bermuda grass starts to turn green.

Start to water your Bermuda grass again in the spring when it begins to grow again. Water every three days by hand or with a sprinkler with about ½ to 1 inch of water (test with empty cans placed in different areas around your lawn). Grass grown in the sun and in clay or sandy soils need more water, while grass that grows in rich, loamy soil and in the shade needs less water.

How to Water Bermuda Grass Seed

Arrange sprinklers in your yard so all areas of your lawn will get water. If you are unable to set up enough sprinklers to do this, you will need to move the sprinklers around after you use them in one area of the lawn.

Run the sprinklers for 30 minutes immediately after planting the seeds. This should be enough time to thoroughly moisten the soil to a depth of at least ½ inch.

Check the soil every eight hours to ensure it is moist. As soon as it begins to dry out, water it for 20 minutes.

Continue the watering regimen every day for the first three weeks, or until the grass is well established.

How to Plant Winter Grass in Phoenix

Mow the Bermuda grass as short as possible without damaging the grass or turf, leaving about 1/2 inch of blade. Cut the amount of irrigation in half. Withhold fertilizing four to six weeks before overseeding.

Fill a broadcast spreader with the perennial ryegrass seed. Set the dial on the broadcast spreader to a rate of 8 to 10 lbs. per 1,000 sq ft.

Walk parallel paths over the entire yard and broadcast the grass seed.

Spread a light coating of sand over the entire yard. The depth should be 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch.

Set up lawn sprinklers and irrigate 1/4 of an inch to 1/2 of an inch of water over the entire yard. Water lightly two to four times per day after that to keep the soil moist.

Reduce the watering slowly after germination. Mow the ryegrass at 1-1/2 inches once it reaches 2 inches in height. Follow a normal irrigation schedule after the first mowing.

How to Reseed Bermuda Grass

Rake away dead organic plant material from the re-seeding area to expose the bare soil and improve germination rates.

Mix equal volume amounts of Bermuda grass seed with sand to aid in distribution of the small seed.

Water the new seed daily with a sprinkler attachment to a garden hose. Apply between 1/10 and 1/3 inches of water until the seeds germinate. Cease daily water applications after three weeks, when the grass springs should be well-developed.

Irrigate the new turf grass on a weekly basis with a deep soaking.

Mow the new stands of Bermuda grass as you would on a regular schedule for an existing lawn.

How Often Should You Fertilize Bermuda Grass?

According to Bermuda Grass Lawns, if a lawn is properly watered and mowed, you should apply inorganic fertilizer every five or six weeks and organic fertilizer every six to eight weeks.

How to Sprig Bermuda Grass

Remove any weeds, rocks or other debris from the area. Break up any chunks of soil with the rake.

Work 1 to 2 lbs. of 10-10-10 fertilizer into the soil per 100 square feet. Work it into the soil to a depth of 3 to 4 inches.

Broadcast 1 bushel of sprigs per 100 square feet over the soil with your hands.

Run a disc harrow over the sprigs four to five times to cut furrows into the soil for the sprigs to settle into.

Run the roller over the sprigs to force them into the ground.

Water the lawn until the soil is moist. Keep the soil moist until the sprigs are established. (ref 4)

How Long Does It Take for Bermuda Grass Seed to Germinate?

Bermuda grass seed germinates in 10 to 30 days, depending on soil and weather conditions. Soil temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees F speed germination.

How to Feed Bermuda Grass

Apply a first round of fertilizer high in nitrogen in mid-April when the grass is about half green. Use a spreader to apply the fertilizer or spread by hand, depending upon the size of the lawn. Look for fertilizers with a number ranging from 29 to 31 as its first number to ensure adequate nitrogen. (For example, 31-4-8 is a fertilizer rich in nitrogen.) Thoroughly water after feeding.

Give your Bermuda grass its second feeding six to eight weeks after the first treatment, around mid-June. Use a spreader if appropriate. Thoroughly water after feeding.

Feed the lawn with 1/3 bag of fertilizer in another six to eight weeks, around mid-August. Use a spreader if appropriate. Thoroughly water after feeding.

Apply a bag of winterizer on the lawn in late September to early October. Water the lawn after applying the winterizer to protect and feed the lawn during winter domancy.

How to Kill Wild Bermuda Grass

Pull clumps of Bermuda grass from the lawn using your hands. Remove large clumps with a spade shovel and discard the roots, grass and the soil.

Spread dry molasses over the entire area. Coat the grass with the molasses. It can be purchased from a local farm supply center.

Cover the entire area with a clear plastic sheet. Secure the sides and corners to prevent water and air from reaching the soil and grass beneath. Leave the cover in place for two weeks.

Remove the plastic cover and rake the dead grass from the lawn. Discard and prepare the soil for a fresh planting of the grass you desire.

How to Kill Bermuda in Centipede Grass

Hand-pull patches of Bermuda grass from your centipede grass lawn.

Place Bermuda grass into plastic trash bag or compost bin. Continue hand pulling Bermuda grass patches until they are of an even height (no higher than 5 inches). An even height helps ensure that the grass may be killed easily when newspaper is spread over the Bermuda grass.

Spread old newspaper over the Bermuda grass you wish to eliminate and weigh down the newspaper with bricks or heavy weights.

Leave newspaper and weights in place for two weeks.

When removing the newspaper, spot check the grass to ensure no new Bermuda grass has grown. Hand pull any new growth and continue to spot check the affected areas on a weekly basis.

How Much Water Does Bermuda Grass Require?

According to Texas A&M University, water requirements for Bermuda grass depend on environmental conditions and turf use, but range from 0.1 to 0.3 inches per day.

How to Mow Bermuda Grass Short

Mow your common Bermuda grass, Midiron or Santa Ana cultivars down to 1 inch at the lowest. Mow Tifgreen, Tiflawn or Pee Dee down to a minimum of 1/4 inch in height. Set your lawn mower blade at the ideal height for your type of grass and the grass blade height that you prefer. Adjust the knobs or levers on your lawn mower according to the markings corresponding to the position of the cutting blade.

Reduce the blade height of the lawn grass with mowing slowly over successive mowing sessions to limit stress on the roots and to prevent browning and scorching. Take down no more than one-third of the blade height in each mowing session until you reach the blade height you prefer.

Maintain your shorn Bermuda lawn with frequent mowings. Mow daily to maintain a 1/4-inch height, every 3 days for 1/2 inch and every 5 to 7 days for an inch to 1 1/2 inches.

Water your shorn Bermuda lawn liberally, applying up to the weekly equivalent of 1/3 inch of water per day in one or more watering sessions spread throughout the week.

How to Get Rid of Bermuda Grass in Centipede Grass

Hand pull clumps of undesirable bermuda grass from the centipede lawn.

Place the clumps of bermuda grass into a plastic, disposable trash bag or compost bin.

Ensure that your patches of unwanted bermuda grass are no higher than 5 inches, and that they are of even height. An even bermuda grass patch will ensure that the grass-killing process will go more smoothly.

Spread old newspaper evenly on top of the bermuda grass patches. Weigh the newspaper down with bricks or other heavy objects.

Leave the weighted newspaper in place for two weeks. Remove the newspaper to check for any new bermuda grass growth.

Hand pull any new bermuda grass growth. Spot check the areas weekly to ensure no new bermuda grass growth occurs.