Is your bermuda grass lawn looking a little sparse? Are you considering planting some new seed over the top of the existing lawn? If so, you’re considering what’s called overseeding in the landscaping/lawn-care community. In this article, we will explore the step-by-step process of overseeding Bermuda grass, ensuring that your lawn thrives with optimum health and beauty.
Common Mistakes in Overseeding a Bermuda Grass Lawn
I know this is an article about how to overseed a bermuda lawn. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t address whether or not your really need to or not. A lot of lawn-care experts will straight up tell you to NOT overseed your bermuda lawn. Why?
`1. You just don’t need to: Bermuda grass grows so quickly and is so hard to kill that it’s often considered a pesky weed in lawns made up of another grass variety. If you’re looking to choke out weeds in your bermuda lawn, just spray it down with some weed and feed and wait.
Or better yet, just kill everything with a few different kinds of herbicide (broadleaf, grass, and pre-emergent). Wait a few weeks then add some good fertilizer. The bermuda will survive and come back roaring after the unwanted weeds are dead. Remember, bermuda grass is hard to kill. It’ll survive treatments most other plants can’t.
2. It’s expensive: Buying a big bag of bermuda grass seed, especially one that matches the variety (there are many) that you have in your lawn, could cost you $500. If you notice bare patches it may be more cost effective to buy some bermuda sod and fill in the bare patches with that.
3. Most people don’t know what kind of bermuda grass they have: Unless you know for sure you have common bermuda or some specific hybrid (Arden 15, Blackjack, Yukon, an Tifway to name a few), it’s not advisable to overseed. Most bags of bermuda grass seed you find at a big box store will be common bermuda grass. But your lawn may be a bermuda hybrid lawn.
In this case, if you overseed with common bermuda seed on a hybrid lawn, you’re going to have a mix of what are essentially two different grasses that look different and have different care & mowing requirements. It’s going to result in a choppy looking lawn that doesn’t look great.
Nine Easy Steps to Overseed a Bermuda Grass Lawn
Given the above forewarnings, if you’ve decided to go ahead and overseed your bermuda grass lawn, here’s how you do it.
- Remove Leaves, Pine Needles, and Debris – Before overseeding, it’s crucial to clear your lawn of any debris that may hinder seed germination. Rake and remove leaves, pine needles, twigs, trash, flowers, etc. This will ensure that the Bermuda grass seed comes into direct contact with the soil.
- Low Height Mow – Mow the existing Bermuda grass low, cutting it to a height of 1/2 inch or lower. This allows the overseeded Bermuda grass seed to make contact with the soil and receive adequate sunlight for germination.
- Prepare the Soil – Proper soil preparation sets the foundation for successful overseeding. Consider dethatching the lawn to remove any excessive thatch buildup. Aerating the soil will improve air circulation, water absorption, and seed-to-soil contact. Level any uneven areas to promote even growth.
- Choose the Bermuda Seeds and a Spreader – Select high-quality Bermuda grass seeds that are suitable for overseeding. Consult with your local garden center or seed supplier for recommendations based on your region and specific needs. Use a spreader to evenly distribute the seeds across the lawn.
- Apply the Seed – Divide the seed into two equal portions. Walk slowly and evenly across the lawn, spreading one portion of the seeds in a north-to-south direction. Then, spread the second portion in an east-to-west direction. This cross-seeding technique ensures uniform coverage.
- Cover the Bermuda Grass Seed – Gently cover the Bermuda grass seed with a thin layer of soil or compost. This helps protect the seeds from birds, sunlight, and wind, while still allowing them to receive the necessary moisture for germination.
- Fertilize – After overseeding, apply a high-quality starter fertilizer that is specifically formulated for new grass establishment. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding application rates and timing. This will provide essential nutrients for healthy seedling growth.
- Water Thoroughly – Proper watering is crucial for successful overseeding. Keep the soil consistently moist by watering lightly 3 or more times per day. Avoid excessive watering that may cause waterlogging. Gradually reduce the frequency but increase the duration of watering as the grass seedlings establish.
- Maintenance – Maintain Bermuda Grass as Normal Once the Bermuda grass seedlings have germinated and established, maintain your lawn as you normally would. Regularly mow the grass to the recommended height and follow a regular watering and fertilization schedule. Patience and continued care will reward you with a beautiful and healthy Bermuda grass lawn.
When to Overseed a Bermuda Grass Lawn
To achieve successful overseeding, timing is crucial. The ideal time to overseed your Bermuda grass lawn is during the late spring or early summer when soil temperatures are consistently warm. Aim for daytime temperatures above 70°F (21°C) and nighttime temperatures above 60°F (15°C). These conditions provide the perfect environment for seed germination and establishment.
Suggested Overseeding Dates for Bermuda Grass
The suggested overseeding dates for Bermuda grass may vary depending on your geographical location. However, a general guideline is to overseed between late May and early June. Always consider the local climate and weather conditions to ensure the best results. Monitor the soil temperature and wait until it reaches around 65°F (18°C) or higher before starting the overseeding process.
Watch This Video Before You Overseed Bermuda
Benefits of Overseeding a Bermuda Grass Lawn
- Increases turf density: Overseeding helps to increase the density of your Bermuda grass, filling in thin and bare areas, resulting in a thicker and healthier lawn.
- Enhances color and appearance: Overseeding with Bermuda grass seeds can enhance the color and overall appearance of your lawn, giving it a fresh and vibrant look.Improves weed resistance: A dense Bermuda grass lawn discourages weed growth by crowding out weed seeds and preventing them from establishing.
- Enhances wear tolerance: Overseeding helps to improve the wear tolerance of your lawn, making it more resistant to foot traffic and environmental stress.
- Fills in patchy areas: If your Bermuda grass lawn has patchy or damaged areas, overseeding can help fill in those spots, promoting a more uniform and cohesive lawn.
- Extends the growing season: By overseeding, you can introduce newer grass varieties that have different growing patterns, allowing your lawn to stay green and healthy for a longer period.
- Improves disease resistance: Overseeding can introduce disease-resistant varieties of Bermuda grass, strengthening your lawn’s ability to resist common diseases.
- Increases overall lawn health: A well-overseeded Bermuda grass lawn tends to be healthier and more resilient, with better root development and improved tolerance to environmental stressors.
- Provides a cost-effective solution: Overseeding is a cost-effective alternative to completely renovating your lawn, as it helps rejuvenate and improve the existing turf without the need for extensive and expensive measures.
Other Seed Varieties Viability to Overseed Bermuda Grass
When considering overseeding Bermuda grass with other varieties of seeds, it is important to consider the compatibility and growth characteristics of the different grass types. Here’s some information on overseeding Bermuda grass with specific varieties:
- Ryegrass: Overseeding Bermuda grass with ryegrass is a common practice for winter color in regions with cool-season climates. Ryegrass is a cool-season grass that thrives in cooler temperatures and goes dormant during hot summer months. The best time to overseed Bermuda grass with ryegrass is in late summer or early fall, allowing the ryegrass to establish before winter.
- Zoysia Grass: Overseeding Bermuda grass with Zoysia grass is generally not recommended. Zoysia grass is a warm-season grass like Bermuda grass, and they have different growth habits and maintenance requirements. The two grasses may not blend well, leading to an uneven and patchy lawn. It is best to establish Zoysia grass separately in areas where it is desired.
- St. Augustine Grass: Overseeding Bermuda grass with St. Augustine grass is not commonly practiced. St. Augustine grass is a warm-season grass that prefers a different type of environment and maintenance routine compared to Bermuda grass. Attempting to overseed Bermuda grass with St. Augustine grass may result in competition and poor establishment of both grass types.
- Fescue: Overseeding Bermuda grass with fescue is another common practice for winter color in cool-season regions. Fescue is a cool-season grass that thrives in cooler temperatures and provides green coverage during the dormant period of Bermuda grass. The best time to overseed Bermuda grass with fescue is in early fall when soil temperatures are suitable for fescue germination and growth.
- Kentucky Bluegrass: Overseeding Bermuda grass with Kentucky bluegrass is not recommended as they have different growth habits and maintenance requirements, leading to an uneven and inconsistent lawn appearance.
Overall, when overseeding Bermuda grass with other grass varieties, it is important to choose grass types that have similar growth habits, maintenance requirements, and climatic preferences.
It is advisable to consult with local lawn care experts or extension services to determine the most suitable grass types for overseeding based on your specific region and climate.
Overseeding Bermuda Grass FAQs
Frequently asked questions about overseeding bermuda grass
How much seed do I need to overseed bermuda grass?
Generally you’ll need 1-2 lbs per 1,000 square feet to adequately overseed your lawn
How long does it take for overseeded bermuda grass to establish?
The establishment time for overseeded bermuda grass varies depending on the bermuda variety and environmental conditions. Typically, it takes around 7 to 14 days for the seed to germinate, and several weeks for the grass to establish and fill in. Patience and proper watering are key during this period.
Should I aerate before overseeding bermuda grass?
Aerating the soil before overseeding can enhance seed-to-soil contact and improve seed germination. It is generally beneficial to aerate your lawn before overseeding bermuda grass.
Can I use a pre-emergent herbicide after overseeding Bermuda grass?
It is generally not recommended to use pre-emergent herbicides immediately after overseeding, as they can prevent the germination of both weed seeds and grass seeds. Consult with lawn care professionals for the appropriate timing and application of herbicides after overseeding.
By following these nine easy steps, you can successfully overseed your Bermuda grass lawn and enjoy a lush, vibrant, and beautiful lawn. Remember to choose the right time, prepare the soil properly, select high-quality seeds, and provide the necessary care for optimum growth. With a little patience and ongoing maintenance, your Bermuda grass lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood. Happy overseeding!