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Maintenance Practices For Bermuda Grass

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Bermuda Grass maintenance practices for Bermudagrass depend upon the variety and purpose for which this grass is chosen.

Golf course and athletic fields are the highest maintained areas. These are usually the hybrid Bermudas that were specifically developed for this kind of activity and in the past were only sodded. Improved Seeded  Bermuda Grass varieties are now opening up the field for home owners to achieve better Bermuda grass lawns than previously possible.

The Basics Of Bermuda Grass Maintenance

WATERING: Golfing greens, athletic fields of all kinds need a particular watering schedule (usually irrigation) to maintain the highest degree of growth that can be obtained with grasses. Over watering can bring about fungus and invitations to insects. Trained groundskeepers time all maintenance to conditions and season. Lawns that are not highly maintained can use the drought tolerance of this grass to their advantage. In most average rainfall seasons little if any water may be needed.  Although Bermuda grass is drought tolerant it does responds well to watering and fertilization if the desired density is not sufficient or if it is slower growing than usual during peak seasons.

WEEDING: This is an aggressive grass and can usually take care of weeds on its own once the sod is established and well managed. A regular mowing program helps control weeds. The same goes for pastures.

FERTILIZATION: Although Bermudagrass generally requires lower amounts of fertilizer, usage will determine how much "fuel" this grass will need. Under intense wear, mowing and watering schedules more of the fertilizer will be used or leached into the soil. Bermudagrass used in average lawns and erosion control situations generally needs less fertilizer.

MOWING: Lawns planted with this grass can be mown much closer than other warm season grasses. Once more this information is according to the variety and  cutting heights range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches. The closest mown Bermudagrass are the most improved varieties which include the vegetative as well as the newer seeded varieties. The newer seeded varieties can be maintained as low as 3/8 in. while the hybrids can be mown down to 3/16 range. Low mowing of Bermuda will generally require daily mowing during peak growing seasons.

DISEASE / INSECTS: Pearl Scale is a big problem on Tifgreen and other sodded Bermuda grasses. Unfortunately, there is no good method to control them on some of the improved vegetatively established Bermudas. The pearl scale feeds on the roots, so getting insecticide down in the soil where the insects are is difficult, and insecticides are not that effective against them. The best option in turf infested with pearl scale is to plant seeded Bermuda grasses which are naturally resistant to them. No one knows the mechanism of resistance in the seeded Bermuda grasses to pearl scale - they just never get infested with it.

OVERSEEDING: Why overseed, when to overseed, how to overseed and with what grass, does one overseed with? These are the questions that can be answered at the lawn forum. A short version at this time from us is that overseeding accomplishes many goals for improvement, gives a continuous green look, and is the prime example of human ingenuity over Mother Nature. Grass coverage is now (more than ever before) an erosion control factor. Once in place we yearn to keep the cover as green as long as possible. Overseeding warm grasses with cool grasses in the transition zone has succeeded with this goal. Athletic fields and golf courses led the way with a demand for grasses to provide a year round playing field.

  • Perennial rye grass is the number one favorite to overseed Bermudagrass ** but be aware that you must not overseed NEW bermuda grass lawns with perennial ryegrass until after the 1st year of establishment. The perennial ryegrass will not compete as aggressively with the Bermuda and will die back as soon as the temperature rises. Also it germinates quickly and has good disease resistance and high traffic density.
  • Annual rye is also used in a lot of lawns because of the price and ease of overseeding. Sometimes the annual may return in weed form and cause problems later.
  • Overseeding also thins the Bermuda turf and over a period of time this results in having to overseed with with more Bermudagrass seeds. This is an excellent opportunity to add newer varieties to improve the old lawn's characteristics. The best advice for overseeding is water according to directions and keep off the grass until it is growing sufficiently. In the spring you should start a transition program to encourage the Bermuda to grow while forcing the ryegrass to die out.

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Bermuda Grass Pasture Maintenance

Pastures planted in Bermudagrass require more maintenance than many other warm season grasses. Many of these fields have been vegetatively planted with hybrid Bermudas which produce more forage and hay material than the common Bermuda does. It is important to remember that Bermuda that is seeded for lawns was developed for those particular characteristics and the forage industry is still behind on the seeded varieties. Vegetative hybrids require more in the management process but are still the largest in production forage value for serious ranchers and farmers.

For the person needing a basic pasture for low maintenance the common Bermudagrass can be their answer. It will still need fertilizing to realize full potential and added nutrients for better quality grass. Rotational grazing also helps extend the pasturage. The improved forage cultivars selections are also excellent choices (Ranchero Frio, Cheyenne).

Pasture Fertilization requirements need to be met for the best results in any planting unless you live in the most fertile land on earth and even then you will eventually need supplements of some kind to maintain quality forage. Soil tests are the best indicators to the actual amount of necessary components you will need to apply. The rate can be anywhere from 250 - 450+ lb. per acre in a year. All amounts of fertilizer and additives will be determined by the usage of the crop. Hay cuttings will naturally demand more fertilization and a different schedule than grazing pastures. Climate impacts upon the amount and timing of application.

Yearly fertilization on pastures should be conducted after soil testing, Haying requires fertilization to get the most cuttings, spurring growth and increase sod density at the same time. Better fertilization scheduling is needed to improve nutritive value and lessen the need to supply additional feeds. Pastures need approximately 100-300lb/A and up to 100 LB/A and 0-100 if P2O and 0-120 of K2O yearly depending upon your soil. Amounts for haying purposes will be different depending upon how many cuttings are taken. Soil pH should be nearest to 5.5 and above.

Pastures that are cut for hay will need fertilizer after each cutting to promote the heaviest amount of growth possible. This should be followed by mowing or grazing and yearly burns if weeds become a problem. Mowing, burning yearly or applications of weed control may be another management practice. Overseeding with cool season forage grasses or crops where the weather permits extends grazing seasons.

VISIT OUR BERMUDAGRASS PASTURE PAGE FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Bermuda Grass Resources And Helpful Links

READ OUR FAQ QUESTIONS SECTION FOR MORE INSIGHTS ABOUT GROWING & CARE OF BERMUDA LAWNS

Improving stands of existing Bermuda Grass - vegetative or seeded - Overseeding Bermuda Grass Lawns & Turf in areas damaged by winter kill or other factors.

Prevention of Seedhead formation in Bermuda Grasses.

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