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Preparing to Plant Bermuda Grass Lawns
Bermudagrass is a warm season turf grass and is best planted in spring to late spring or early summer. Plant Bermudagrass seeds
when soil temperatures are consistently above 65° F (18°C) -- this soil temperature is reached when daytime air temperatures are 80° or higher. The optimum soil temperature for germination and root growth of Bermudagrass is 75° to 80°F (24°
C) - Higher temps are acceptable provided moisture is maintained.
- Site Selection: Plant Bermudagrass in full sun on well-drained soil in the temperate, sub-tropical and tropical climate zones. Proper drainage is essential for successful establishment and the development
of mature healthy turf.
- Soil Test: Prior to seeding, a soil test is recommended. Apply fertilizer and other amendments per test.
Add lime as needed to establish a minimum 6.0 soil pH. A lawn starter fertilizer
is an ideal choice to apply prior to planting.
- Seedbed Preparation: Loosen soil to a depth of six inches (15 cm). Level area to proper grade
with approximately .5 inches (14 mm) pulverized soil at the surface. Rake smooth
prior to planting. Do NOT use any herbicides or weed & feed fertilizers
during planting. You must allow a period of 10-14 weeks prior to, and 10-14
weeks after seeding date in which NO herbicides or weed & feeds can be applied.
Keep area mowed frequently to control weeds.
Additional Bermuda Grass Seed - Planting Tips & Suggestions
Bermuda Grass Seeding Rate for New Turf Applications
Plant 2 to 3 pounds of Bermuda grass seed (coated seed) per 1000 square feet (1 kg/100 square meters) for
new turf applications. More seed may be needed when stands are established
early or late in the season to ensure full coverage. The planting rate for
lawns is much higher, than for pastures, due to the desire to have a higher
plant population per square foot in laws. This works to create a dense
turf when mowed.- See info below for
planting into existing ryegrass or fescue lawns.
Bermuda Grass Seed Planting Depth
It is is very important to cover the Bermuda grass seeds with soil or mulch (1/8 to 1/4 inch) –
a bare, open-to-the-air seed lying on the soil surface with no protection
from wind or dry air or hot sun, cannot be kept moist enough to germinate
well. You have to dump a lot more water just to keep the surface a little
moist and even then they will see the seeds germinate much faster in shaded
areas, since it is too hard to keep exposed seeds from drying out.
that people want the easy way out, but they are leaving themselves open to
getting bad germination results with only half the area sprouting if the
seeds are not properly covered, etc.- NOTE: Be careful to NOT cover
deeper than 1/4 inch as the seeds may not germinate if planted deeper.
Overseeding or Repairing Established Bermudagrass
Bermudagrass may be overseeded
into your existing stand of seeded bermudagrass such as common to improve its overall
turf quality or repair damaged areas of seeded bermudagrass and some vegetative
bermudagrass varieties. The suggested renovation seeding rate is 1 pound per
1000 square feet (.50 kg/100 sq. meters). For bare areas, use the new turf
application seeding rate. If the turf is in very poor condition or the damaged
areas very large, total removal of the existing grasses before seeding Bermudagrass
is recommended for maximum stand uniformity and overall turf performance.
When over-seeding into an existing stand of turfgrass, care must be taken to ensure
adequate seed to soil contact. Products such as growth regulators may
be used to reduce competition from the existing stand or herbicides may be applied
to eliminate any undesirable grasses before seeding. Follow label instructions
for usage and observe the required waiting period, if any, before seeding.
Small areas can be raked vigorously to remove accumulated thatch and break up the
soil surface before seeding. Maintain adequate soil moisture and restrict
traffic in the renovated areas during germination and the early establishment phase
prior to the first mowing.
Care must be taken not to cover the seed with too much soil – no more than 1/4 inch of soil
covering the seed is recommended or germination will not occur. However the seeds MUST have proper soil
coverage (ideally 1/8 inch) for good germination to occur.
Effective planting methods
include broadcasting by hand, using seed spreaders, and hydroseeding – Rake or drag
planted areas to provide soil coverage over seeds. Or you may use a slit seeder to plant the seeds (Mix the Bermuda seeds with dry building sand / play sand). Plant the seeds 1/8 to 1/4
inch. If overseeding, aerate
prior to seeding. Do NOT use herbicides when seeding 10-14 weeks before, during
or after planting date for seeds.
Watering: Soil moisture around
the seed must be maintained for about 1 to 3 weeks. The seedbed must be kept
moist during germination. Once established, provide less frequent, deep watering
to encourage deep root growth.
Bermudagrass has very good seedling vigor. Under ideal conditions, germination begins within
7 to 10 days. Again, soil moisture must be maintained during the germination
period. Allow 14 to 18 days after the first seedlings emerge for complete
Establishment Time: Under ideal conditions, full coverage is attained 6 to 10 weeks after seeding.
If planting is early or late in the season, more time may be needed for establishment.
Long experience among turf grass
professionals on golf courses and sports fields, plus university research,
has proven that it is harder and takes longer to establish a healthy stand of Bermuda grass from seed or sprigs into
an existing, live, growing stand of existing fescue or perennial ryegrass.
This is partially due to the endophytes produced by fescue and perennial rye grass. The best option is to kill the existing grass first before planting your Bermuda grass
Planting Bermuda into existing Ryegrass Lawns
If planting into existing Ryegrass (especially Perennial Ryegrass).. It is usually best to kill off
the ryegrass prior to planting Bermuda. Sometime between April 15 and May 15, no matter how good
the ryegrass still is, plan to kill it. Do NOT wait
much longer than that as you lose important warm-weather time for establishment of your long term,
permanent Bermuda grass base turf. You should be planting the Bermuda around
last of May to the first of June.
If you do not kill a Perennial Ryegrass stand before planting your bermuda grass seed, you will not have a successful stand of bermuda grass. Shortcuts such as cutting off the ryegrasses water, mowing it short or scalping, etc. these are all wastes of time and will directly affect your success with the Bermuda
grass seed establishment. Long experience among turf grass professionals on golf
courses and sports fields, plus university research, has proven that it is
impossible to establish a healthy stand of Bermuda from seed or sprigs into
an existing, live, growing stand of perennial ryegrass.
In most cases you can get away with planting bermudagrass into Annual Ryegrass lawn as long as it is
late in the spring (May / June) and the ryegrass is mowed short or is already dying out prior to planting. If planting into perennial ryegrass you must kill the perennial first before planting Bermuda (due to
toxins created by perennial ryegrass plants). Planting methods used for planting into annual ryegrass can be similar to those listed below for planting into Tall Fescue lawns (slit seeding / spike aeration and seeding /
tilling soil to prepare a smooth seedbed, etc.) - Tillage is always best as
it removes all "other" grass competition, thus allowing a much higher rate
of initial establishment of new Bermuda seedlings. (Where another
grass is already growing... you can't initially get a new plant to occupy
that same space.)
Planting Bermuda Into Existing Tall Fescue Lawns
If planting into an existing
Tall Fescue lawn, killing the tall fescue and tilling it under is the best
method, mostly because an old struggling half dead tall fescue lawn probably
has some soil crusting and compaction issues and tilling is a way to loosen
the soil and improve the planting seedbed (raking it smooth after tillage)
rather than just throwing seeds on top of hardpan, crusted over old soil and
expecting them to do well.
But if you want to you can mow off the live tall fescue in late spring (scalp very low & rake / vacuum
debris), just to reduce the shading effect and allow for some sunlight on
the bermuda seed. Then slit seed or broadcast or spread over aerated areas
(spike or core aerated areas), etc.
The better the seed to soil contact the more successful will be the establishment results, Good
preparation for seed soil contact is always better than just rather than
just dumping the seed on top of the soil surface.
MOWING THE TALL FESCUE AT 1 INCH DURING THE
BERMUDA ESTABLISHMENT PERIOD (8-10 weeks), KEEPS THE TALL FESCUE FROM
SHADING OUT THE BABY BERMUDAS – THIS IS A KEY POINT, UNTIL THE BERMUDA LAWN
IS DOMINANT. MONTHLY FERTILIZATION OF THE BERMUDA WILL ALSO HELP IN
NOTE ON PLANTING IF USING
A CORE AERATOR:
If you are aerating using a core aeration method... You should first core aerate, then
broadcast the seeds and then rake the cores to break them up which allows
the broken up soil cores to provide some soil covering to cover your seeds.
The only potential drawback here with tiny seeds like Bermuda – some of
the seeds will fall into the core holes and perhaps be buried too deep to
spout. - Ideally repeated trips across the lawn using a spike aerator
is a better method of preparing the soil prior to broadcasting out Bermuda
Note: Alteranatives to the use of chemcial KILL on existing weeds and
lawns include the following methods.
Solarization or 'baking' the grass by covering it with clear
or black plastic for 4 to 6 weeks causing it to
bake in the sun and die -- this will also take care of weeds. After removal of plastic till the area well and remove any roots that may be left.
Vinegar - Another method to kill grass is by spraying the grass you want to kill with
white distilled white vinegar (on a warm, sunny day).
A couple of days later, remove the now dead grass and be sure to dig up any existing roots. Vinegar is environmentally friendly being harmless to humans, pets, wildlife, and the soil.
Composting or Layering - Till and cover the area with overlapping cardboard, 6 inches of compost, and then mulch on top of that.
After two months the buried grass should be completely dead and decomposing along with the cardboard. It is now that you can seed your new grass directly into the soil. Note - if you are removing deep rooted grass such as bermuda grass, and other deep rooted grass - then you
may need to till the area and remove all roots to keep these
grass types from returning.
Power Tilling: Repeated tillage (using a power tiller device)
or even hand "turning" the soil can result in elimination of weeds & grasses.
Often repeated tillage over a period of weeks may be required to get complete
kill. Some grasses can return from "stolons or sprigs" that are left in the soil
during this procedure, thus the need to wait until these plants are activily
growing to attempt to eradicate by tillage. Often you may need to till,
wait couple weeks to allow growth to occur adn then retill and possibly repeat a
third or fouth time to achieve complete eradication of exisiting vegetation.
NOTE: this will never eliminate new growth from seeds, it is only a method to
reduce returning growth from "springs / stolons" of existing vegetation.
After using the above methods and establishing a good clean seedbed plant your bermuda grass as directed. The Bermuda seed or other grass seed should
sprout and establish well, with the ryegrass (or other grass) killed and no longer competing or causing chemistry problems.
More info on organic grass removal techniques may be found here
Glyphosate based herbicides or other chemicals can be used to kill existing
vegetation. We suggest that if this is the route you decide to take then follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Seedland does not sell or provide specific information on the use of chemical
herbicide products. Consult with the manufacturer or a local garden supply
store that sells these products. Your local cooperative extension agent
can also assist.
Planting into areas where you have killed the existing grasses with a "Glyphosate"
herbicide we recommending waiting 10-14 days after the application of this type
of herbicide (read label for specific wait times). Then mow the dead grass as short as you can, rake or vacuum the excess debris and then spike aerate to expose
soil and then seed the Bermuda grass or other grass directly into the soil (rake to cover if possible).
NOTE: Some chemical herbicide products require a longer "waiting" period - Read
label instructions to determine how long to wait before you can safely replant
with new seeds.
The First Mowing of Bermuda Grass Lawns
First Mowing, Minimum Mowing Height and Mowing Frequency:
The turf is ready for the first mowing approximately 3 weeks after seeding or when
most of the grass has filled in. To avoid scalping the turf, do not remove
more than 1/3 of the leaf blade per mowing. Minimum recommended mowing height
(reel mowers) is .5 to .75 inches (12.5 to 18.75 mm). After the first mowing,
mow every 3 to 7 days. Rotary mowers require higher minimum height (around
1”) to prevent scalping. Frequent mowing reduces the “brown look” on Bermuda grass.
NEED A WINTER GRASS WHEN BERMUDA IS DORMANT?
(With a Ryegrass):
Winter overseeding of dormant bermuda grass may be done for year round green
color. It is not generally recommended on immature turf (less than 6 to 8
months of age). The safest practice would be to wait until second year (fall
/ winter) after your bermuda is established. Late season plantings and newly
established bermuda grass may also be damaged by the vertical cutting and scalping
procedures, leaving it unable to compete with the overseeded species during the
spring transition. Ryegrasses are the primary overseeding species. - Read
more on planting ryegrass into bermuda lawns.
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