Bermuda is the most common front yard grass of homes in the $100,000+ price range. This is because it is the cheapest sod available and it can be sodded year round. Bermuda is a warm season grass. It is green during the summer and buff brown in winter. It grows best in full sun and tends to thin out in partial shade. If the grass becomes thin under a maturing shade tree or other shady area, consider covering the area with mulch rather than trying to get Bermuda to grow where it will not prosper. Bermuda spreads rapidly by both above-and-below ground runners. This can make it difficult to keep it from spreading into your plant beds. Bermuda is best laid as sod and not seeded. Seeded Bermuda sends up multitudes of seed heads quickly after mowing, and is inferior to sodded Bermuda. We do not recommend seeding Bermuda.
Varieties of Bermuda
Tifway (419) – Tifway is the original standard in the market. Has excellent weed and disease resistance. Tifway has a dark green color. Used for home lawns, fairways, tees, and athletic fields
Tifsport – A new and improved Bermuda grass with superior cold hardiness with a slightly finer leaf texture than Tifway. TifSport provides a high-density grass that can be mowed as low as ½ inch or 1-1/4 inches high. Tifsport has excellent recovery from traffic with a higher tensile strength. TifSport has also shown a mole cricket non-preference in side-by-side comparisons to Tifway.
Patriot – New Bermuda grass variety from the Agricultural Experiment Station, Oklahoma State University. Patriot is a high quality turf with texture similar to Tifway (419), good density and dark green color. Tested and found to be very cold tolerant with superior recovery from traffic. Patriot is a superior selection for athletic fields as well as residential and commercial applications.
Bermuda Grass Care and Maintenance – Some Simple Steps for Your Lawn
Fertilize your lawn three times per year, per the schedule shown below. Water every other day in hot weather unless it’s raining. Mow twice weekly, making sure your lawn mower blade is sharp. From mid May through June, you can core aerate and top dress your lawn to level the yard and improve soil conditions. Apply pre-emergent weed killers in the fall and early spring. Allowing your grass to grow very tall before cutting is very damaging. Frequent mowing is important for good lawn maintenance.
Atlanta’s typical red clay soil is highly compacted and does not absorb water well. Clay particles are super fine, and therefore compact tightly with little air space. Unless your soil is amended with sand and organic matter, water does not penetrate well. Water thoroughly, but not too the point of significant runoff. Don’t waste water. In 90 degree plus heat, we recommend watering every other day. Sunny days increases water evaporation, thus increasing the need for water, while cloudy days require less irrigation. If the grass is allowed to turn grayish, or plants are wilting, it is a definite sign you have waited too long to water. Water in the early morning when it is less windy and the bright sun will not burn or evaporate water quickly. Do not water in the evening or late at night, as the increased wetness on plant and turf foliage can cause fungus. Follow local watering ordinances.
Mowing and Thatching
During the growing season, mow at least weekly. During peak growing conditions (late May through early July), mow twice weekly. Make sure your lawn mower blade is sharp! The mowing height should be at 3/4″ to 1″ for a high quality lawn. In a perfect world, the grass should be mowed frequently enough so that you never cut more than 1/2″ in any one cutting. Frequent cutting is the key secret to a beautiful Bermuda lawn. Letting the grass grow tall and then cutting it way back is the worst thing that you can do to a Bermuda lawn.
Thatch accumulation can be reduced by scalping the lawn in late spring as the Bermuda grass begins to turn green. After the lawn is scalped (using a bagger is helpful), rake up the thatch.
As fall approaches, it is a good idea to raise the height of your mower. The higher grass in the winter will help reduce winter annual weeds and provide insulation against deep freezes.
Fertilize Bermuda after it has turned 50% green in the spring. Don’t be tempted to fertilize any earlier, for a late freeze could wipe out the tender “forced” sprouts. Fertilization should be with a complete fertilizer such as 13-13-13 on the approximate dates below. Water the grass thoroughly after fertilization and daily for at least one week thereafter if local water restrictions permit. Keep in mind that sloped areas may lose their fertilizer in heavy rains and may need more frequent fertilization.
Georgia Fertilization Schedule
- April 20
- June 1
- August 15
Most homebuilders sod the front yard with Bermuda. Often, the job is less than perfect. Lumps, bumps, and dips can be easily leveled with a process known as topdressing. Topdressing can also be used to aid in the decomposition of thatch and to reduce surface compaction. Topdressing involves spreading a thin layer of topsoil or river sand on the soil surface. The best topdressing material is topsoil mixed with sand. Topdressing rates may range from 1/2 to 2 cubic yards of material per 1,000 square feet. This produces a layer from 1/8 to 5/8 inch thick. Topdressing is best done on Bermuda lawns in mid May and June. Core-aerating before topdressing is also a good practice. It is important that distinct soil layers are not formed. The top dressed material is usually worked into the turf by raking. Liming and Fertilization after core-aeration, but prior to topdressing, stimulates rapid turf grass recovery and promotes a healthy, vigorous turf. Topdressing applied thicker than 5/8″ can kill the grass underneath.
Weed Control for Bermuda Lawns
The appearance of your lawn depends greatly upon the practice of preventing or controlling weeds. The good lawn management practices discussed above, proper fertilization, mowing and watering, will produce a healthy dense turf which is difficult for weeds to invade. May and June are the prime growing months for Bermuda. The focus during these months should be turf development, specifically fertilization and watering as discussed above. Weed killer should be avoided during these months.
Pre-emergent weed killers should be applied in February and late October. Weed killers may be applied from July through September. During the winter when Bermuda is brown, winter weeds are quite obvious. Based on actual experience, if you spray them with RoundupTM the Bermuda grass will also be killed. A pre-emergent treatment in late fall is the best defense against winter annuals. Winter weeds are easily pulled by hand.