Because of its dark
gray-green color, drought tolerance, and high tolerance
to foot traffic, Bermuda grass has become the most popular
choice for southern lawns. Bermuda grass creeps along
the ground and roots where ever a node touches the ground,
forming a dense carpet. It also reproduces from roots
under the ground. It has a deep root system, and in
drought situations the root system can grow quite deep.
Most of the root mass lies 24 inches under the surface.
blades are a gray-green color and are short, usually
1 to 4 inches long.
grass can grow in poor clay soil, however performs best
in sandy clay, or soils that will crumble in your hand
when squeezed. Irrigation is not necessary but will
enhance performance and appearance during periods of
Bermuda grass is actually considered a very invasive
and competitive weed, however when properly and regularly
maintained it is easy to contain. If not edged regularly
Bermuda grass will crawl into landscaped beds among
shrubs and groundcovers. In this event there is a an
herbicide called 'Over-The-Top' that can be safely sprayed
around and over plants to kill Bermuda grass. Herbicides
such as Roundup and Killzall work quite well to kill
it, however one must be careful not to spray these chemicals
on the foliage of desired plants or vegetation.
of Bermuda Grass
are three basic types of Bermuda grass:
Bermuda Grass is more suited
to pastures and should not be used for a residential
Bermuda Grasses are dense and low-growing varieties
that can be planted from seed. 'Sahara', 'Yuma', and
'Panama' are three varieties we have used most recently.
The turf-types will form a dense carpet of dark green
grass very similiar to some of the hybrid sod types.
Bermuda Grass is a low-growing, dense grass
that is available only in sod form. The most common
variety for residential use being grown and sold by
sod farms is 'Tift 419'. It displays a dark gray-green
color when fertilized properly and mowed regularly during
the peak growing season.
prefers full sun - density is diminished where there
is too much shade. Its drought tolerance has made it
one of the South's favorites grass types found extensively
on residential lawns, golf courses, and sporting fields.
grass will go dormant with the first severe drop in
temperature in late Fall, however can be overseeded
with ryegrass to provide a green lawn in winter.
grasses reproduce through seeds and through runners
and rhizomes. When planted from seed the seeds germinate
at temperatures above 68° F, and begin to grow within
2 weeks. When planting a Bermuda grass lawn from seed
it is recommended that a "turf-type" bermuda
seed be used.
tolerance is good in Zone 8,
though as a reslt from severe winters, spots of "winter-kill"
may appear in spring.
height varies between 1 to 2 inches in height. Never
reduce the height of your lawn by more than one-third
when mowing during the active growth season. Removing
more than this can cause scalping and may take a while
to recover, during which time the grass is more susceptible
to stress and further damage.
First mowing of the season should be after danger of
hard freezes has passed - normally in mid-March when
the soil temperature is around 55 F. Set your mower
to a lower than normal setting to remove as much dormant
top-growth as possible. Don't mow below 1/2" or
you could damage the grass. Bag the clippings the first
mowing. The lawn will turn green when soil temperature
warms to 60-65 F. Once the lawn has greened, mow at
your normal height.
grass may be aerated anytime during the growing season
except in times of drought. Do not aerate while dormant
this is a very aggressive grass and flower beds or other
areas will be quickly overrun if not kept in check.
Once established it is very difficult to remove by hand
due to its extensive root system. Make sure to edge
beds, driveway and walkway edges regularly during peak
growing season. Edging with a weed eater turned upside
down is the easiest way to edge.
is a heavy feeder. Begin fertilization in spring just
after new green growth has emerged. At this time, fertilize
with a slow-release, high nitrogen fertilizer such as
27-4-6. Follow instructions on the package for application
and spreading rates. Fertilize again in early to mid-summer
with 27-4-6 or 16-4-8. Finally, in fall, apply a good
fall feed fertilizer such as 5-10-15 that contains more
phosphorus and potassium. These elements will enhance
root development over the winter.
tolerates a wide range in soil reaction, but performs
best between pH 6.5 and 8.0. At pH levels below 6.5
limestone should be added according to soil test recommendations.
To determine whether or not you need to apply lime to
the lawn, test your soil, or have it tested for pH through
your local Extension Service. The Extension Service
will provide a detailed analysis of the soil samples
and give recommendations as to whether, or how much
lime need be applied to correct soil pH.
does have numerous pest problems, however, which tend
to increase with higher levels of management. High nitrogen
fertilization rates, close mowing and frequent irrigation
tend to increase the susceptibility of bermudagrass
to insects and diseases.
pests that feed on the foliage of bermudagrass include
armyworms, cutworms, sod webworms, white grubs and bermudagrass
mites. We rarely experience any problems with these
pests in Zone 8 of Georgia. Insect control on bermudagrass
should include cultural, biological and chemical methods.
Under good management bermudagrass can tolerate low
populations of most of these insects. Where insect populations
are high enough to cause significant damage, biological
and chemical methods may be required. Some species of
white grub can be controlled with milky spore disease,
a biological control that effectively controls white
grub populations. Where these biological controls are
not effective, chemicals can be used together with these
cultural and biological controls to reduce insect populations
to an acceptable level.
disease organisms occasionally attack bermudagrass turf.
Dollar spot, spring dead spot, leaf spot, brownpatch
and Pythium are all fungus diseases that attack bermudagrass
turf. As in the case of insects, cultural and chemical
methods may be required to control disease and nematode
problems. Where cultural practices do not adequately
control turf diseases, fungicides are available for
control. High nitrogen fertilization rates should be
avoided during peak periods of disease attacks. Thatch
should be controlled through proper mowing and cultivation.
And, water should be applied properly to avoid severe
drought stress or waterlogged conditions which increases
the susceptibility of grass to some diseases.
Bermudagrass in the late evening or at night as this
will sponsor the onset of fungus. Always water in the
also serious pests in bermudagrass turf. Vigorous, healthy
turf properly maintained provides the best means of
weed control in bermudagrass turf. But, where turf thins
due to environmental stress, pest problems or poor management,
weeds rapidly invade bermudagrass. Broadleaved weeds
including clover, chickweed, dandelion, henbit, dichondra
and others can be controlled with the hormone type herbicides
such as 2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba. Grassy weeds including
crabgrass and dallisgrass can be controlled with other
chemicals. Annual grasses including crabgrass and annual
bluegrass can be controlled with preemergence herbicides.
However, all of these herbicides must be used together
with good management to effectively reduce weed populations.