All About Bermuda Grass: Planting, Care and Cost

bermuda grass

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If you are in a southern location and looking for a grass species to help give you a beautiful new lawn, Bermuda grass may be the perfect choice species to fit that need. Here's what to know about Bermuda grass and why you would want to grow it.

What Is Bermuda Grass?

Bermuda grass is a turf grass commonly found growing in warm weather locations worldwide. While not native to Bermuda, it grows it can grow invasively similar to another species known as crabgrass. The species’ ability to grow readily, combined with its excellent drought tolerance and ease of care, makes it well-received as a turf grass in warm locations in the United States.

Bermuda grass is favored in locations where you can expect a good amount of foot traffic, making it a great grass for yards where there might be children playing or areas commonly used for gatherings or thoroughfares. Its selection as a turf for athletic fields and golf courses is a testament to its durability, leaving little doubt that it can handle anything a residential user can throw at it. 

Common Name Bermuda grass
Botanical Name Cynodon dactylon
Family Poaceae
Spread Seed, Stolon, Rhizome  
Shade Tolerance  Intolerant, needs seven hours of direct sun
Drought Resistance  Drought-tolerant
Foot Traffic  Tolerant 
Maintenance  Easy 
Mowing  Mow to 1 to 1.5 in. weekly
Height  4-12 in. tall
Soil pH Adaptable
Soil Type Well-draining clays
Hardiness Zones  7-10 (USDA)
Lifespan  3-5 years 

Planting Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass is a warm-weather grass that should be sown during warm months and in warmer areas. A good standard for how much seed to buy is one to one and a half pounds of seed per 1000 feet of area you want to cover.

Before sowing, the soil needs to be prepared. Bermuda grass seed needs to be covered by soil to germinate. The best way to make this happen is to rake the soil aggressively, creating small ruts to allow seeds to collect in and be covered. 

After the soil is raked, mechanically sow using a seed caster to ensure wide, uniform coverage. Once established, the species does exceptionally well in drought conditions but must be kept damp when sown. Depending on the temperature and moisture, seeds will germinate in as few as three to seven days. It may take considerably longer, possibly up to three weeks, in less-than-ideal conditions.

Care and Maintenance

Ideally, the best way to manage your Bermuda grass lawn is by developing a yearly maintenance program. Plan for time to do seasonal chores such as winter cleaning and dethatching, first mowing, irrigation, scheduled mowing, aeration, fertilizing, weed control, and pest control.

Winter Cleaning and Dethatching

In warmer climates, around late January, it should be time to start considering winter cleaning and dethatching. Hand rake or use a dethatcher to clean up remnant grasses from the dormant season and prepare for your first mow of the year. (Before mowing, be sure your mower gets a good tuneup, especially seeing that your mower's blade is sharpened or replaced.) The first mow should be cut back even lower than you would normally mow the grass, to a height of 1 inch at this point. To eliminate the need to dethatch again, use a bag attachment or be prepared to rake the cuttings, as this first cut will leave a good amount of refuse.

Core Aeration

As the winter months wane, towards March and April, when the possibility of frost subsides in your zone, you should start to plan on core aerating your lawn. Aeration prevents soil compaction and increases drainage. You can aerate the lawn with a push tool, either powered or manual, or by using spikes attached to your shoes when you mow.

Weed Control

When the temperatures warm and seasons change to to warmer water, it's time for weed control. Multiple applications of different herbicides throughout the year are recommended to keep ahead of the issue, usually starting with an initial application of a pre-emergent herbicide in the late winter months, followed by a second application two to three months later. Follow this application with a post-emergence herbicide, being sure to look closely at the label to guarantee that Bermuda grass is not negatively affected by the ingredients in the chosen herbicide.

Pest Control

While Bermuda grass is highly resistant to pest issues, occasionally, you may notice some insects. Most often, the pest affecting Bermuda grass is grubs, but you'll only have a real problem on your hands if a large population is present. Check the grub population density by cutting a sharp spade into your lawn and removing a square foot section of the lawn. If there are five or more grubs within the square foot section, apply a lawn insecticide formulated for grub control.

Fertilizing

Early in the year, perform a soil test to decide what fertilizer you should apply to your lawn, if any. Doing a simple soil test will guarantee that you give your Bermuda grass exactly what it needs to thrive and do not accidentally overfeed it. Use the results to inform what NPK formulation you need for your fertilizer.

Water

Bermuda grass is drought resistant, but the more water it is provided when there is no drought, the better it can deal with those times when the grass may have to deal with low water consumption. Watering your grass every few days once the weather has warmed to spring temperatures will help keep it healthy and thriving.

Mowing

Keep Bermuda grass healthy throughout the summer growing season and into the fall by mowing once or twice weekly. The height of the grass should be kept to 1.5 inches, making sure not to cut too short. Rake or bag the lawn refuse, and compost the clippings.

Tip

Every few years bald patches may arise in your Bermuda grass in late spring. You can fill in the bald patches by adding plugs or sod.

Bermuda Grass Cost

On average, the cost of Bermuda grass is $20 for a pound of seed, around $75 for 15 pounds, and $250 to $400 for 50 pounds. A pallet of Bermuda grass sod can cost roughly $400, usually covering about 500 square feet, with a plug costing $35 and covering only about six square inches.

The cost of Bermuda grass depends on the project's size, where you buy your Bermuda grass seed, and if you are buying sod or plugs to rejuvenate an existing lawn. When you calculate how much to buy, remember that you will need roughly one to one and a half pounds of seed per 1000 square feet of soil to establish a new lawn.

FAQ
  • Is Bermuda grass hard to maintain?

    Bermuda grass is relatively easy to maintain if placed in the proper location and mowed regularly.

  • Does Bermuda grass spread on its own?

    Yes, Bermuda grass is considered highly invasive as it spreads three ways—seed, stolen, and rhizome.

  • Is Bermuda grass easy to grow?

    Yes, Bermuda grass is easily grown in the proper location and in the correct conditions.