Grass is extremely sensitive to temperature. Have you ever seen your lawn go yellow during the summer?
Exactly. The dormancy and growing cycles of the Bermuda grass are mainly determined by the temperature of the soil, however, the Bermuda grass is a little different to other grasses, due to it being a warm-season type.
This makes the cycle of the grass rather unique compared to other grasses.
If the Bermuda grass is something that is on your mind, well, you have come to the right place! From how to know when it is dormant to looking after its health, let’s take a look at it in more detail.
When To Tell If Bermuda Grass Has Gone Dormant
There are a few ways to notice if your Bermuda grass is not growing and has fallen into its dormant phase. Because of the fact Bermuda grass is temperature sensitive, it stops growing once the soil reaches below 60℉. Generally, it will then go dormant if the soil reaches 55℉.
Eventually it will start to turn brown as it enters dormancy when the soil temperature has dropped. If you have been watering it enough, the brown blades of the grass will be going brown due to becoming dormant, not dehydration.
Another way to test it for dormancy is by tugging on a section of the brown grass. If you pull the grass and it comes out of the soil very easily, or feels spongy, then sadly the grass is dead.
If it resists being pulled out, then it is just dormant. That is what you are looking for, because it shows the roots under the soil are still strong.
How Long Bermuda Grass Stays Dormant
Depending on the region the Bermuda grass is planted in will determine how long it stays dormant for. In the United States, it does very well in transitional and southern regions.
Generally, the Bermuda grass does well in regions such as Australia due to a warmer climate and a mild winter. In fact, it may not enter the dormant phase at all meaning it will stay lucious and green for the whole year.
So, basically if you are wanting it to stay green for as long as possible – like all year round – you will want the temperature to stay above the dormancy phase. Living in a warmer climate with plenty of sun will help with this, but obviously you will not be moving house just to have greener grass!
Also regular care, like aeration, appropriate watering, and regular dethatching will aid to keep your bermudagrass healthy in the long run.
In America, areas such as Florida, the Southwest and Southern California will not experience dormant Bermuda grass. So, if you live in areas like this, you will need to keep up with making sure the grass stays healthy and in good shape.
How To Look After Dormant Grass
However, just because the grass may be dormant for you come winter, it does not mean you can get out of looking after the grass. If the temperature is above 40℉, then you will need to keep watering it even though it will be dormant at this stage.
Water it less than you would during the warmer months, so about 0.5 inches of water once a week. If you have a standard sprinkler, this is around half an hour of use. If it rains, water according to that so you do not overwater the grass.
If the winter is especially dry and the grass is not watered, it will become weaker and ultimately may die due to a drought. You will need to make sure the roots stay strong and the grass stays healthy if you would like it to look green by the time spring rolls around.
When To Not Water Dormant Grass
Once the temperatures hit 40℉ and below, do not water the dormant grass. This is because the temperature can freeze the water on the grass blades which will cause damage to them. Also, do not water early in the morning in colder weather to allow the morning frost to melt.
When To Cut Dormant Bermuda Grass
Once the grass is dormant it will not grow, so cutting it shorter is far from advisable. There is one exception and that is when it is coming out of the dormancy phase once temperatures start to rise again in the early days of spring.
Once the temperature rises above 60℉, it is now ready to be mowed but you should only do this once, seeing as it is only just starting to ‘wake up’. Make sure to mow at a lower height than you normally would, taking off around 1 inch of length.
This will remove the top layer of dead brown blades to help reveal a stronger and greener lawn in the upcoming weeks. Also, make sure to do this early on before the spring greenery starts to bloom.
Is Dormant Grass Easy To Kill?
When the Bermuda grass is dormant, it is actually more difficult to kill than when it is growing green grass. This is due to the grass blades ‘shutting down’, and therefore the only way to remove it is by literally digging it up, or not watering it.
So, if you do want to use a topical spray like a fertilizer, it will not get into the system of the grass and could even boost the health of the Bermuda grass.
A Useful Video on Bermudagrass Dormancy
The Bermuda grass has a unique cycle meaning it cannot be treated like other grasses. It grows in the warm seasons and goes dormant once it gets too cold. Once the soil reaches a temperature of around 55℉, it will become dormant.
Because the temperature is above freezing, the grass should be watered with half the amount of water you would need during its growing season. The grass will not need to be mowed because it will completely stop growing.
Once the dormancy period is over, which is typically around mid-March to early April, it is best to mow the grass down to 1 inch in length to promote green grass and to get rid of any dead material.
Bermuda grass is not as difficult to look after as one might think, and will look wonderful once late spring arrives. The way you look after it will ultimately decide its fate.
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