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How to Grow Bermuda Grass

By Jenny Green
Bermuda grass tolerates high traffic when it's actively growing in spring, summer and early fall.

Bermuda grass (Cynodon spp.) is a warm-season, perennial grass for sunny lawns. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 10, Bermuda grass grows well in warm weather but turns brown in fall and winter as it stops growing. Bermuda grass varies in color from deep blue-green to dark green and gray-green, according to the variety. In many areas of the United States, Bermuda grass is invasive.

Soil and Sun

Bermuda grass grows well on most soils but doesn't tolerate shady conditions. Poorly drained soil, such as heavy clay and compacted soil, can cause waterlogged, decaying roots and bare, muddy patches, but in most other soils with a pH between 6.5 and 8.0, Bermuda grass thrives.

Grow Bermuda grass in an area of the garden that receives at least eight hours sunlight every day. This grass doesn't grow well in partially shaded or full shade areas.

Sow Bermuda grass seed at a rate of 1 pound per 1,000 square feet, or if you're growing a lawn from stolons or sprigs, plant them at a rate of 4 to 6 bushels every 1,000 square feet.

Water Needs

Deep, infrequent watering provides the best growth and drought tolerance in Bermuda grass. This grass is deep-rooted, and tolerates drought by slowing down its growth rate. Bermuda grass uses water at a rate of 0.1 inch per day to 0.3 inch per day, according to the soil type, weather conditions and frequency of mowing.

Water Bermuda grass when the soil is dry to a depth of 1 1/2 to 2 inches, applying enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of 12 inches. Don't water the grass so much that water pools on the surface or the soil becomes soggy.

Fertilizer for Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass grows best when it receives regular fertilizer applications. Bermuda grass lawns grown from seed need less fertilizer than lawns of hybrid Bermuda grass grown from sod, stolons, sprigs or plugs.

Fertilize Bermuda grass four equally spaced times per year when the grass is actively growing. Apply 2 to 4 pounds total actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet to seeded Bermuda grass, and 4 to 6 pounds total actual nitrogen to hybrid Bermuda grass, per year. Divide the yearly total into four equal portions before fertilizing. Water the fertilizer into the soil.

Mowing Bermuda Grass

Regular mowing provides neat, traffic-tolerant turf on Bermuda grass lawns. Bermuda grass grows quickly during warm weather and needs frequent mowing for the best results. Mow seeded Bermuda grass lawns when the grass is 1 to 1 1/2 inches tall, and mow hybrid Bermuda grass at 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Hybrid varieties look best when mowed using a reel mower.

Don't remove more than 40 percent of the leaf area when mowing Bermuda grass, or the grass becomes less dense and loses color.

 

About the Author

 

A graduate of Leeds University, Jenny Green completed Master of Arts in English literature in 1998 and has been writing about travel, gardening, science and pets since 2007. Green's work appears in Diva, Whole Life Times, Listverse, Earthtimes, Lamplight, Stupefying Stories and other websites and magazines.