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Bermuda Grass FAQ & Answers

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We receive many questions about how to plant, grow and care for the many different types of grass seed, including Bermudagrass. Listed below are the most commonly asked questions in a series of links  answering these frequently asked Bermudagrass questions (FAQ) and our suggestions.

  1. What the difference between hulled and un-hulled Bermuda Grass Seed?
  2. Here (Calif.) the temperatures reach to about 115 degrees in the summer, I mean hot, what kind of seed would you recommend?
  3. Can I improve my common Bermuda by overseeding with an improved turf type?
  4. What is recommended seeding rate for new turf?
  5. When and where can I plant Bermudagrass?
  6. Should I cover the seeds after planting?
  7. How long does it take for bermuda grass seed to germinate and establish a lawn?
  8. How much water and fertilizer is needed on a Bermuda Grass turf?
  9. Is Bermudagrass salt tolerant?
  10. When can I mow my bermuda grass, how high, and do I need a special mower?
  11. What about growing Bermuda where the winter is cool?

Answers To The Above Questions About Bermuda Grass

  1. The difference between hulled and unhulled - Hulled Bermudagrass seed have had a "outer" seed coat removed by seed producers using mechanical means, much like you remove a "jacket" when you come in from the cold. This removed seed coat allows water to enter into the seed quicker than if the protective jacket was still in place. The object of all this - removing the hull is to decrease the time it takes for the seed to germinate. Resulting a a more quickly established lawn. Both hulled and un-hulled varieties of the same seed variety, are the same grass. The disadvantage is that if you do not have good conditions for germination and growth (moisture, etc)... all the the little freshly germinated seedlings may die. A seed coat is natures way of ensuring survival of the species by spreading out the germination period. If you can provide good moist conditions for your seed, hulled seed will germinate and establish a lawn the quickest. If you are not sure, you might want to mix both hulled and un-hulled seed in your planting. Or plan of providing good growing conditions with adequate water and nutrients.
  2. Bermudagrass is definitely one of the better lawn grasses for HOT areas... You might want to consider planting an improved variety such as Sahara instead of the common variety... Bermudagrass handles heat well when grown, but it still needs water. Keep in mind that you CANNOT establish seeds without constant (some times twice daily) watering until after the seeds have sprouted and the plant has reached a larger size where the roots can tap into deeper ground/soil water sources. This can take 45-90 days or more to accomplish... then as the grass grows larger you can begin to reduce watering to more normal levels for your area.
  3. Can I improve my common or vegetative Bermuda by overseeding with an improved turf type?
    Yes you can, The improved varieties can improve common bermuda and the new Princess 77 variety can also improve many hybrid / vegetative types. Planting around 1/2 to 1 lbs per 1000 sq. ft can often lead to improvements in your stand of grass. Make sure good seed / soil contact is obtained in any overseeding program.
  4. What is recommended seeding rate for new turf?
    We recommend 2 to 3 lbs of coated Bermuda seed per 1000 sq. ft. During the middle of summer you may can get by with less seeds as germination is generally higher at this time provided that irrigation is available. Plant a little heavier when you must plant early or late in a season to compensate for higher establishment risks. In most cases you should NOT exceed the 3 lbs per 1000 sq. ft. as it could result in too dense a stand which can cause mowing and growth problems.
  5. When and where can I plant Bermudagrass?
    WHEN: Bermuda is best planted in late spring / early summer. Do not plant until soil temperatures are 65 / 70 degrees or higher in spring AND all danger of freeze / frost is past. If you plant too early, you run the risk of the seeds being killed or not germinating. For Fall plantings, do NOT plant later than 60 days before first expected frost in deep south or 90 days before first expected frost in cooler areas.
    WHERE: Bermuda should only be planted in full sun areas, preferably on well drained soils. It is not very tolerant of shade and areas less than 70% full sun will often thin out Bermuda stands. Proper soil preparation and adequate drainage is a necessity for successful healthy turf.
  6. Should I cover the seeds after planting?
    Yes... Bermuda seeds need both a LIGHT soil covering and the ability to receive sunlight through this covering in order to obtain good germination. The ideal covering depth is 1/8 to 1/4 inch of soil, with 1/8 inch ideal. Topdressings can be used, but care must be taken not to exceed 1/4 inch of soil coverage. Raking or dragging to cover lightly are also approved methods. It is possible to plant too deep and NEVER have any seeds germinate. Also... the seeds will NOT germinate just broadcast on top of the ground.
  7. How long does it take for the seed to germinate and how long to create a lawn?
    GERMINATION: Under ideal conditions, hulled seeds can germinate within 3 to 7 days. IF conditions are NOT ideal, it is quite normal for Bermuda seeds to take 14 to 21 days for germination to occur. Occasionally it can take even longer. Seedlings are very small when they first emerge and require careful inspection to observe.
    LAWN ESTABLISHMENT:
    Under ideal conditions, it is possible for Bermuda's to establish from seed within about 5-6 weeks to provide a limited / usable turf. If planted later or earlier within the growing season, it can take longer. For pasture purposes you should allow growth to be about 8-10 weeks old before grazing. For a fully established / multi-use turf such as a "perfect lawn" or "tough" sports field, you need to allow for 2 growing seasons for the Bermuda grass plants to fully mature to adult stage. Keep in mind that these plants are teenagers the first year and thus not quite as hardy or adapted as they will be after having two seasons growth time to mature.
  8. How much water & fertilizer is needed on a Bermuda turf?
    WATER: Exactly how much water is needed has not really been quantified by turfgrass scientists. However in general, bermudagrass will normally use much of any water provided. Bermudas can go for extended periods of time without irrigation (60 to 90 days), thus their popularity as a drought tolerant grass. The only drawback is they go off-color as they become dormant. Most grasses need 1-2 inches per week to maintain a good growth. --- Seeded bermudagrass areas should be kept moist for the first 2-3 weeks to ensure proper germination. This may require multiple waterings each day to prevent the soil from drying out. Later as growth occurs, you should switch to less frequent, more deeper waterings. Bermuda is superior to many other grasses in drought tolerance.
    FERTILIZER: Always obtain a soil test each season or before planting any new seeding of Bermuda. A pH test is also recommended to make sure that the soil is in the best pH range for growth (ideal 6.5 to 7.0).A balanced fertilization program during active growth months with the correct amount of N applied will provide a healthy turf. We do recommend a lawn starter fertilizer during initial establishment.
  9. Is Bermudagrass salt tolerant?
    Yes, Bermudagrass has very good salt tolerance. It is actually one of the most salt tolerant grass species used. Mohawk Bermuda Grass has been found to have the best salt tolerance of the many seeded varieties we sell. In some specific instances, with careful turf management, high salt water has been used for a part of the irrigation needs for Bermudas.
  10. When can I mow my grass, how high and do I need a special mower?
    You can generally start mowing 3-4 weeks after seeding your Bermuda lawn. Occasionally if growth is rampant, you may need to mow within 2 weeks after planting. Thereafter, mowing will be required in a range of 3 to 7 days depending on various factors. Bermudas are mowed from around 3/8 inch to 1 & 1/2 inches in height. Lower mowing requires more frequent mowing. Height below around 1 inch may require a "reel" type mower to prevent scalping. Heights of 1+ inches can usually be maintained with a rotary mower. Height is a matter of personal preference. The newer / improved varieties such as Princess generally look better than other varieties when maintained at short heights. Common should generally NOT be mowed below 1/2 inch. Lower mowed height will require more maintenance and water monitoring.
  11. What about growing Bermuda where the winter is cool? Can I overseed?
    Bermuda goes DORMANT when temperatures start dropping below 65 degrees. Once a frost / freeze occurs the grass blades loose their chlorophyll that keeps them looking green, resulting in a dormant / brownish - tan color. The grass will remain this way until extended warm temperatures return in late spring. The only solution is to OVERSEED the Bermuda. It is NOT recommended that a young first year stand of Bermuda be overseeded. You should wait until the second year to overseed with a Ryegrass. Cultural methods are needed to encourage the Bermuda to start growing and limit growth of any ryegrass as warm spring temps return. To overseed a Bermuda lawn, scalping and verticuting are helpful methods in producing a good overseeded cover. Also often a slit seeder (rental equipment) can help ensure the ryegrass seed properly germinate.

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