All About Bermudagrass Sod

All About Bermudagrass Sod

All About Bermudagrass Sod

Bermudagrass is one of the most popular warm season turfgrass varieties among homeowner lawns and professional sports fields all over the world. There’s a big difference between warm season and cool season turfgrass varieties, and the choice between the two for installation depends on the area and climate you live in. Choosing the right type of sod makes a significant difference in the overall success of a new lawn. Sod University has also published individual articles on different grass varieties such as Zoysia,  St. Augustine, and Centipede. This week, Sod U takes a deeper dive into the history and characteristics of bermudagrass sod. Read the article below to see if bermudagrass is the right type of sod for you.

The History of Bermudagrass

Bermudagrass is used for various purposes all over the world and despite its name, “bermuda” grass, it actually originates from different areas of Asia, Africa, Australia and Southern Europe. Its earliest introductions are not recorded, but there are notes on bermudagrass being listed as one of the principal grasses in the Southern United States around 1807. Bermudagrass is called many names  including Devil’s Grass, Scutch Grass, Kweekgras, couch grass and gramilia. Now it is one of the most popular warm season grasses due to its look, feel and durability to handle high traffic and abuse.

Facts About Bermudagrass

Bermudagrass is found throughout the southern two-thirds of the United States as it thrives in warm weather climates. The warm season perennial turfgrass is adapted to tropical and subtropical climates. This variety of turfgrass grows best through periods of high temperatures, mild winters and moderate to high rainfall. However, certain varieties of bermudagrass have been bred to withstand cooler temperatures up into the transition zone such as Latitude 36TM Bermudagrass and NorthBridge® Bermudagrass.

Bermudagrass is a highly adaptable perennial that spreads by stolons, rhizomes and seed. You can frequently see bermudagrass invading other parts of lawns by growing under the desirable grass and sprouting out on the surface. It has a perennial root system with deep rhizomes that allows it to endure and continually grow. It is commonly sold as sod, seed or plugs. This is also the type of grass that is frequently found on sports fields and golf courses in its dwarf form.

Bermudagrass Characteristics & Traits

Bermudagrass is fine-textured with a thin grass blade that reaches between 2–16 cm long. The leaves on the stems of bermudagrass have long internodes alternating with one or more short internodes as shown in the image below. Bermudagrass is also somewhat darker in color than most varieties of turfgrass.

It is very tolerant of wear and tear and stands up to drought and other weather conditions in comparison to other types of turfgrass. Bermudagrass is also very salt tolerant, making it adaptable to coastal regions. It grows best at a pH of 6–6.5, depending on the type of bermudagrass you have.

Advantages & Disadvantages of a Bermudagrass Lawn

Advantages

  • Tolerant of high temperatures and droughts,
  • Tolerant of wear and tear (why it’s used on athletic fields),
  • Fast recovery rate,
  • Easy to grow,
  • Very attractive color,
  • Salt tolerant.

Disadvantages

  • Aggressive,
  • Needs full sunlight,
  • Difficult to control on lawn edges or sidewalks,
  • Generally not very shade tolerant*,
  • Requires at least weekly mowing during the growing season,
  • If you fall behind on mowing (due to rain, vacation, etc.) the result will be scalping, which can be unsightly.

 

*Celebration® Bermudagrass has finished best in numerous university research studies for its many characteristics and qualities including bermudagrass shade tolerance.

Bermudagrass Establishment

When it comes to installation and establishment, bermudagrass is easy to grow and can become established from sod, plugs or seed pretty easily. You must take care of any establishing, healthy lawn and this requires time and effort. However, bermudagrass requires a lot of sunlight—so if you have a lot of shade in your yard, this type of grass may not be the best fit. It is also a warm season turfgrass, so it grows best in warm, humid climates. As you start to get farther north, bermudagrass is not as easily maintained with falling temperatures. Since this grass grows pretty quickly and aggressively, it must be mowed around once a week after establishment. If you do not have the time in your schedule to do this, bermudagrass will overgrow. You will also need to water it daily during establishment. Be sure to check out the LawnifiTM New Lawn Starter Box if you are currently installing bermudagrass. This fertilizer will give your bermudagrass lawn the nutrients it needs during establishment. For a full list of sod installation instructions, visit our How to Properly Install Sod page followed by our Establishing a Newly Installed Lawn page. Learn more about plugs here.

General Maintenance for Bermudagrass
Bermudagrass Mowing and Watering

As mentioned in the previous paragraph on bermudagrass establishment, bermudagrass requires time and effort. The same can be said for its maintenance once it is fully established. It is a beautiful grass that has high curb appeal, but requires more maintenance in comparison to other types of turfgrass. You will need to mow your bermudagrass once a week during its active growing period (spring–fall) or else it will aggressively overgrow. Bermudagrass can be cut around .5–1.5 inches in height and needs about one inch of water per week.

Bermudagrass Fertilization

Your bermudagrass will also need proper nutrients during the various seasons of the year. Sod University recommends the Lawnifi Annual Fertilizer Subscription for this reason. The Lawnifi program consists of three separate boxes for spring, summer and fall called the Spring Fertilizer Box, Summer Fertilizer Box and Fall Fertilizer Box. Each seasonal box contains three different bottles of Lawnifi Fertilizer that vary from season to season. Your bermudagrass will need different nutrients as temperatures and soil conditions change throughout the year.  Learn more about Lawnifi in our Why Use Lawnifi Fertilizer? article.

Bermudagrass Insect and Disease Control

This type of grass can stand up to insect damage, disease damage and bad weather conditions pretty well. However if you notice any insects or disease in your bermudagrass, apply a broad-spectrum fungicide like Heritage G Granular or broad-spectrum insecticide such as Bifen L/P Insecticide Granules. Bermudagrass is susceptible to diseases like dollar spot, spring dead spot, leaf spot, brownpatch and Pythium. Heritage G Granular and Armada 50 WDG offer control of most of these. If you a have disease that’s really hard to get rid of and nothing else seems to work, you can try applying a combination of fungicides with multiple chemistries such as Heritage and Armada. Read more in the Lawn Disease Control Strategies article. As with any control product, be sure to read the product labels before application. When it comes to insects, bermudagrass is mostly susceptible to armyworms, cutworms, sod webworms, bermudagrass mites and mealybugs. Bifen L/P offers control for all of those. You can take a look at our full list of fungicide products here or a full list of our insecticide products here.

Bermudagrass Weeds

Lastly, it is good to apply a pre-emergent herbicide, like Prodiamine, in the spring and fall when temperatures start to alter as a means of preventing weeds from appearing. A post-emergent herbicide can be applied if you have already noticed weeds. Bermudagrass can be invaded by broadleaved weeds including clover, chickweed, dandelion, henbit, dichondra and others. They can be controlled with herbicides containing 2,4-D, Mecoprop-P or dicamba. SpeedZone Broadleaf Herbicide for Turf and SpeedZone Southern Herbicide both contain 2,4-D, dicamba and Mecoprop-P. Grassy weeds including crabgrass and dallisgrass can be controlled with several applications of Spectracide Weed Stop For Lawns + Crabgrass Killer in spring, early summer and fall. Be sure to check out our full list of our herbicides here. Read product labels before application. Check out our Identifying Common Lawn Weeds article for more information on the difference between broadleaf and grassy weeds.

For more information on maintenance guidelines, or to read more about seasonal maintenance tips for spring, summer or fall, take a look at our Bermudagrass Homeowner Maintenance Guide. Sod Solutions also has specific Homeowner Maintenance Guides for Celebration Bermudagrass, Latitude 36 Bermudagrass, NorthBridge Bermudagrass and DiscoveryBermudagrass.

Sod Solutions Bermudagrass Varieties

There are several high-quality bermudagrass varieties that Sod Solutions offers including Celebration Bermudagrass, Latitude 36 Bermudagrass, NorthBridge Bermudagrass and Discovery Bermudagrass—all that offer different characteristics from each other. Be sure to check out their individual pages to get a better idea on which variety will be best for your lawn. Sod Solutions also offers Tifway 419 Bermudagrass sod and Dog Tuff Bermudagrass plugs. Shop our bermudagrass sod varieties here or our bermudagrass sod plugs here. Sod Solutions currently offers one variety of bermudagrass seed called North Shore SLT Bermudagrass.

If you are interested in learning more about the different types of turfgrasses so that you can make the most educated decision on the sod, plugs or seed you want, check out our How to Choose the Right Type of Sod article.

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