Looking to add some green to your lawn? Why not try Bermuda grass? Bermuda is a popular choice for lawns and sports fields because of its high tolerance of heat and drought. Bermuda can be grown from seed, which makes it a cost-effective option for homeowners and landscapers.
In this article, we will explore the fundamentals of Bermuda grass, its characteristics, and how to grow Bermuda grass from seeds. We will also provide a comprehensive care guide for Bermuda grass so that you can keep your lawn looking beautiful all year long.
Bermuda Grass and Its Characteristics
Bermuda grass is a perennial, meaning when it gets proper climate conditions, it returns yearly. Scientifically known as Cynodon dactylon, Bermuda grass, contrary to the name suggests, is native to Africa, Asia, and the Mediterranean region. However, in Bermuda, it's called "crab grass."
Bermuda grass was introduced to the United States in the 1500s by settlers and is also known as "South Grass". The grass quickly became popular because of its ability to withstand high temperatures and long periods of drought.
Bermuda is known by several names such as hoob, dūrvā grass, ethana grass, dubo, dog's tooth grass, Bahama grass, devil's grass, couch grass, Indian doab, arugampul, grama, wiregrass, and scutch grass. The number of names suggests that this grass is quite popular, has been around for a while, and is found worldwide.
Characteristics of Bermuda Grass:
- This grass is identified by its short, stiff blades that grow in bunches. The color of the blades ranges from blue-green to silver-green.
- The leaves of Bermuda grass are narrow and have a pointed end.
- The flowers of this grass are white or light purple, and they grow in clusters.
- Since they are drought tolerant, they have a deep root system that goes down about 2 m (6.6 ft) deep.
- It is a warm-season grass, which means it grows best in temperatures between 24 and 37 °C (75 and 99 °F).
- In the winter, it does not do well and can be killed by frost. Ideally, it becomes dormant and turns brown.
- It is an invasive species that grows rapidly and can be difficult to control. Plus, it's resistant to pests and diseases.
Growing Bermuda from Seed
Now that the fundamental characteristics of Bermuda grass is covered, we can move to the interesting part: how to grow it from seed.
So let's start with the seeds themselves. There are two kinds of seeds you can use: hulled and unhulled seeds.
As the name suggests, hulled seeds have had their outer shell or husk removed. This makes them easier to germinate because they don't have to go through the process of breaking out of their husk. If you plant hulled seeds in summer, they grow rapidly, and you can have a fully grown lawn in just a few weeks!
Unhulled seeds have their husk intact and need to go through the process of breaking out of it before they can germinate. The process is known as scarification and can be done by sanding the seed coat with sandpaper or nicking it with a knife. You can also plant them as they are, but they will take a little longer to germinate and grow.
Providing them with optimal growth conditions is essential as they will perish if not looked after properly. Autumn is the best time to plant unhulled seeds.
Once you've decided which type of seed you want to use, it's time to get started on growing your Bermuda grass. Here we have elaborated on all the steps you need to follow.
How to Find the Right Location and Time
When looking for the right location, choose an area that gets plenty of sunlight and has well-drained soil. They do well in sunlight but can also tolerate semi-shaded areas. Bermuda grass isn't picky about the soil type, but it does need to be able to drain well.
Bermuda grass can be planted anytime, from spring to early summer. The ideal temperature for germination is 32 to 37°C (95 to 100°F). If you reside in an area with a warm climate, you can plant it in late summer or early autumn.
How to Prepare the Area
Preparing the area is crucial to the success of your Bermuda grass. The first step is to remove any existing vegetation, including weeds and grass. You can do this by tilling the soil or using a herbicide.
Next, you need to level the area so that it's smooth. Do this with a rake or by your hand. Once the area is level, you need to loosen the topsoil so the roots can penetrate it easily. The last step is to compact the soil so that it's firm. You can do this with a roller or by walking over the area.
How to Plant the Seeds
When you've prepared the area, you can start planting the seeds. If you are using unhulled seeds, you might want to scrape them before planting them.
Bermuda seeds require a thin layer, so gently bury the seeds about 35 cm (14"). If you are planting them in rows, space the seeds about 15 cm (06") apart. Once the seeds are planted, lightly rake them, so they are covered with soil.
Water the area lightly so that the seeds are moist but not soaked. You should water them twice daily, morning and evening, for the first week.
How to Care for Bermuda Grass
Congratulations! You have successfully planted the Bermuda seeds. Now it's time to learn how to take care of them.
Bermuda grass grows well in any type of soil as long as it is well-drained. The ideal pH range for Bermuda grass is between 6 to 7.5. It grows efficiently in semi-shaded coastal areas. However, if the soil is highly acidic, it's recommended to do a soil test and treat the area accordingly. Or use a soil corrector to adjust the soil's nature.
Caring for Bermuda grass is relatively easy. It's a warm-season grass and flourishes in consistently warm temperatures. As it's drought-tolerant, you don't need to water it frequently. When the plant is established, you will only need to water it once a week or when the soil is dry. Gradually reduce the watering frequency in winter as the grass will go dormant.
It's essential to water the grass deeply so that the roots can grow well. It is always best to water in the morning so the grass has enough time to dry before nightfall. If you water it at night, there is a chance of developing fungal diseases.
As Bermuda grass is a warm-season grass, it grows best in temperatures ranging from 32 to 37°C (95 to 100°F). The best time to plant the Bermuda seeds is early spring and summer. If the temperature is too hot or cold, it will affect the growth of the grass. That's why in the winter, with a lack of nutrients, the grass becomes inactive. It goes dormant in cold weather and turns brown.
It's essential to fertilize Bermuda grass regularly to maintain a lush, green lawn. The ideal time to fertilize it is in spring and early summer. You can use a slow-release fertilizer so that you don't have to fertilize it frequently. It depends on the soil's nature, and you can get a soil test done to know the right fertilizer for your Bermuda grass. Make the necessary adjustments to maintain the pH level between 6 to 7.5.
In order to grow your Bermuda grass thicker, you need to mow it frequently. The ideal height is between 2.5 to 9 cm (1 to 2"). If the grass grows taller than that, it will become less dense. Mowing also helps to improve the grass' color. While mowing, make sure to use a sharp blade so that it doesn't damage the grass. It's also essential to mow in the right direction. Always mow with the grain to avoid scalping the grass.
Pest and Disease Control
The best way to control pests and diseases is by maintaining healthy Bermuda grass. If the grass is healthy, it can withstand most diseases and pests. However, if you notice any problems, treat them immediately. The most common pests that attack Bermuda grass are chinch bugs, sod webworms, and armyworms. There are various diseases that can affect Bermuda grass, such as brown patches, dollar spots, and rust. The best way to prevent these diseases is by following a regular fertilization schedule and watering the grass deeply.
Now that you know everything there is to know about planting and caring for a Bermuda grass lawn, get out there and lay the foundations for your new garden!