Information on Growing Bermuda Grass
The Spanish brought Bermuda grass to America in the 1500’s from Africa. This attractive, dense grass, also known as “South Grass,” is an adaptable warm-season turf that many people use for their lawns. It is also found in pastures, on athletic fields, golf courses, parks and more. Let’s learn more about how and when to plant Bermuda grass.
Bermuda grass is a cold tolerant, warm-season grass that will grow as far north as Virginia. In warmer tropical areas, Bermuda grass will remain green all year long. In other areas that drop below 60 degrees F., it will go dormant.
Ideal growing regions for Bermuda grass include the United States Department of Agriculture Zones 7 through 10. Growing Bermuda grass is easy as long as you have the right conditions.
Note – For those that have not planted Bermuda grass for turf or other practical uses, its presence can be that of a weed and is very hard to get rid of.
When to Plant Bermuda Grass
The best time to plant Bermuda grass is in the spring once temperatures are consistently warm; this is generally in April or March in warmer regions.
How to Grow Bermuda Grass
Bermuda is not overly picky about soil type and will even tolerate salt spray, making it a good option for coastal regions.
Bermuda grass does well in full sun, but it will tolerate some shade.
At one point in time, Bermuda was grown only from sod or sprigs but is now widely available in seed form. For best results, use 1 pound of hulled Bermuda grass per 1000 square feet. This grass sprouts quickly and is very hard to get rid of once it starts growing.
Start by raking the area to be seeded until it is as smooth as possible. Make a mixture of equal parts sand and seed. The seed can be broadcast using a spreader or by hand for smaller areas. To avoid skips in the lawn, distribute half the mixture lengthwise and half of the mixture crosswise.
Bermuda Grass Sod
Bermuda grass sod also known as Bermuda Sod are created mainly out of hybrid grass or some times from improved common varieties. The hybrid Bermuda grasses do not produce seed and are propagated by vegetative method like Bermuda sod. The hybrids are very fine in texture and expensive than common varieties such as Sahara. Bermuda sod requires extensive care and maintenance for growth and development.
So why and when will you use Bermuda grass sod instead of seed?
Bermuda seeds take time (about 7 to 10 days) to germinate and then 60 to 90 days to get fully established. If you are planning to cover a large lawn or a turf, it may take a year to fully cover the area. Also, the grass grown out of the Bermuda seed may not be very dense and uniform as you would like in a golf green.
Bermuda sod, which are like cut outs of Bermuda grass beds, provides an instant coverage with green grass. The sod quickly takes root in your lawn to produce dense and lush green coverage. While Bermuda seed can be sowed only from mid-May to mid-August, Bermuda sod can be laid out throughout the year till the ground is not frozen. For best results, Bermuda sod should be laid out from mid-March to November.
Here are the recommended steps of how to lay Bermuda sod.
- Step 1
Ensure that you have cleaned up all the weeds by applying non-selective weed killer. This needs to be done at least two weeks before you start laying Bermuda Sod. Store sod stacked in a cool, dark place until ready to lay.
- Step 2
You would need to get a soil test done to know the recommended amount of fertilizer that needs to be applied into the soil. A fertilizer of grade 5-10-15 means that it has 5% Nitrogen, 10% Phosphate and 15% Potash as nutrients.
So, if the recommended nutrient for your soil is 3 lb. of Nitrogen per 1000 square feet, you will need to do a simple math to calculate the fertilizer amount required. In the above case, divide 3 lb. by 5 (% of Nitrogen) and multiply by 100 to get the required amount of fertilizer per 1000 square feet, which is 60 lbs.
Once you know the amount for the whole area, mix recommended amount of fertilizer, lime and organic matter thoroughly with the soil. You will need to till the soil up to 6 inches for this.
- Step 3
Rake the soil smooth for the whole area. Ensure that the soil is at least 1 inch below the level of sidewalks or sprinkler heads. Remove stones and grassy debris.
- Step 4
Roll the area with a water-filled roller. If you see low spots, fill them with soil.
- Step 5
Rake the soil smooth. Apply 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water the night before laying sod. The soil should be moist when you start laying it, but not muddy.
- Step 6
Start laying the sod pieces end-to-end starting along the longest straight edge of the area. Make sure that each Bermuda sod piece is tightly placed next to each other. Stagger the sod pieces in adjacent rows so that the seams do not line up. Cut uneven or irregular end pieces with a carpet knife. Use a small hatchet to trim pieces to fit around obstructions.
- Step 7
Roll the entire area once more to ensure good sod-to-soil contact. Water the grass thoroughly everyday for the first week. Keep the lawn well watered after the first week and follow a regular watering schedule. Water deeply each time for healthy root growth.
- Here is a recommended method for watering new Bermuda Sod:
1. Apply one inch of water immediately after the sod is laid.
2. Water the sod daily and ensure that the top one inch of soil is kept moist. This needs to continue until the sod is rooted to the soil
3. After that, apply one-fourth inch of water every third day for nine days.
4. Next apply one-half inch of water every fifth day for ten days.
5. After the sod is established, apply one inch of water per week for the rest of the growing season.
6. You should also consider rainfall before deciding how much of water to apply.