Originally found in India and Africa, Bermuda grass has had quite a journey around the world. Just over a century ago, settlers from these countries brought this grass over to the New World of North America, and it is now the lawn of choice for almost every home in the suburbs.
The grass today though is slightly different from the original brought over from the east, as it has been cultivated to produce dense, fine grass that is able to withstand very low mowing heights.
It is also very resilient, as it can handle heavy use and can recover from damage quickly.
If you have never had Bermuda grass on your lawn before, then you may not know how to take care of it properly so it lasts you a lifetime. So here is everything you need to know about this type of grass and what it needs to survive and thrive.
Hours of Sunlight Needed
Exposure to sunlight is one of the most important factors of developing a healthy Bermuda lawn. Bermuda is a warm-season grass that requires a lot of sunlight to thrive.
At least 7 hours of direct sunlight every day is recommended, which is why this type of grass tends to thrive more in the warmer southern states.
Bermuda grass can thin even in areas that would usually be considered full sun, such as under trees or between homes. While there are some varieties of Bermuda grass that require less sunlight, this does not mean that they are as tolerant to shade as some people think.
This type of grass will still need around 4-5 hours of direct sunlight to survive.
No matter what variety of Bermuda grass you are using on your lawn, there is no such thing as too much sunlight for this type of grass.
Your Bermuda lawn should be between.75″ and 1.5″ in height to keep it healthy. Think of it like a haircut, you need to give it a trim to help it to go back stinger and healthier. You should mow your lawn on a regular basis so that just 1/3 of the grass blade is gone in a single cut.
Always make sure that you are using a razor-sharp blade. A dull blade divides the grass blade instead of providing a smooth cut. This not only causes the tips to turn brown but also might let infections or pathogens enter the system.
In the spring put your mower to the lowest setting. “Scalping” the lawn is the term for this procedure. Scalping will make it easier to maintain the proper height of your lawn during the growing season, as well as help it “green up” faster.
To help return nitrogen to the lawn, which helps to keep the lawn healthy, you should not bag the clippings, instead of leaving them on the lawn. The only time you should not do this is if the Bermuda grass is tall, or has been neglected causing it to be unhealthy.
Once Bermuda grass comes out of hibernation, it will require around an inch of water per week when it is green and actively growing. During extremely hot weather, Bermuda may need as much as 2 inches per week.
In times of severe drought, Bermuda grass may go dormant. Think of dormancy as a type of hibernation. This is a way for it to stay alive in harsh conditions.
Many people who experience this think that their lawn has died, but Bermuda grass will once again green up and begin to develop if there is enough rain or water, as long as it is during the summer months.
The best time to water your lawn is in the morning, as doing it in the evening when it gets colder increases the chances of fungal diseases attacking your lawn.
Also, infrequent deep watering is much better for this grass than frequent shallow watering, as the water needs to be able to reach deep into the grass for it to survive and grow properly.
It’s also important to keep the soil properly drained. Standing water is harmful to Bermuda grass. You must address drainage issues in order to eliminate standing water.
Core aeration can help if you have used compacted soil, but using soil that is easily able to drain water is the best option.
The Tuna Can Trick
Many owners of a Bermuda lawn swear by this trick, especially if they have sprinklers. This issue with watering your grass with sprinklers is that you may not know how long to leave them on so that the grass is sufficiently watered.
To get the timings right, place an empty tuna can in the sprinkler or irrigation zone. Then, time how long it takes for the can to fill with water. You will then know how long you will need to leave the sprinklers on to get an inch of water.
A Helpful Bermuda Grass Sunlight Requirement Video
Bermuda grass lawns need a lot of nitrogen to survive. You may think that to provide the grass with the right amount you should use a fertilizer that has high levels of nitrogen.
But this can come with risks. Nitrogen-rich fertilizers that have been applied wring might cause your grass to “burn” or “streak”. The best fertilizers to use are ones that have been made specifically for this type of grass.
These fertilizers allow for time-released feeding, preventing harm to your lawn and ensuring that nutrients are delivered consistently between treatments. Always read and follow the product label to make sure that you are applying it correctly.
Much of the soil in the Southeast is acidic or has a low pH. Bermuda grass prefers a pH of 6.5 or higher, which is more neutral.
To raise the pH of your soil, you can use granular lime (a calcium-containing material) to raise the soil pH toward a more neutral or alkaline level. The best time to do this is in early fall.
As long as you provide Bermuda grass with the right amount of sunlight, water, and care, this grass should last you a lifetime.
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