Tips on working with a Bermuda Grass Lawn

A lawn of Bermuda grassCredit: Photo by Jane Gates

In this day and age gardening is changing focus. For decades landscaping has pretty much been a business-as-usual industry. But with changing weather patterns, a technologically shrinking world and financial pressures, talk of being environmental has changed from radical weirdness to stylish fashion. Words like “permeable paving”, “drought-tolerant” and “rain collection” are now trendy and familiar terms in the garden.

One of the wiser choices these days is to replace excessive lawn areas or to use drought-tolerant lawn varieties in areas where water is an issue. Bermuda grass is one of the most popular choices in water-wise grass. If you want use this grass successfully in your garden, there are some things to keep in mind for good Bermuda grass care.

  • Keep in mind that this is a stoleniferous grass that will creep by runners. Because it has well-developed roots, it doesn't demand a lot of regular rainfall. It tolerates sprinkler irrigation well, and it is drought and heat resistant. It also can be invasive and difficult to remove when it creeps into areas you don't want it, like flower beds. So consider using flower bed edgings that go down into the soil rather than resting on the top where Bermuda grass roots will crawl straight through. Do the same for areas of permeable paving so the grass doesn't invade areas of brick, gravel or stone.
  • Make an extra effort to prepare the site well by deep digging and serious weeding. Adding compost to sandy, clay or hungry soils will give your lawn a good base to grow on. Bermuda grass care will be easier if the lawn has a healthy, aerated, nutritious foundation for rooting.
  • Install low volume sprinkler heads that will allow water to penetrate slowly and, ideally, use a smart array irrigation controller that will parcel out the water that your daily weather conditions need without guess work.
  • Water early in the morning and water deeply rather than irrigating with smaller amounts frequently. The idea is to get roots to go down after the water, not spread sideways along the surface.
  • Expect this grass to go into dormancy in the winter. This means you don't have to water it unless there is extreme dry. And if you want to have a green lawn in the winter you will have to over-seed it with a winter annual grass.
  • Keep your grass cut at two and a half or three inches high to encourage deeper roots and healthy growth. A slightly longer blade will save you on both water use and labor.

Bermuda grass is a popular choice for lawns in warm climates. It can become invasive as it creeps into areas where it isn't wanted. Use an edger to keep it under control. Follow good care in aerating, feeding, watering, trimming and mowing and it can serve well as a reliable, drought-tolerant ground-cover plant for front and back yards.