Bermuda grass is one of the most gorgeous turfgrass selections you can make for your new lawn. The finer-bladed, professional look of bermuda grass promises an elite lawn that stands out from the rest of the neighborhood. If you’ve just installed a bermuda grass lawn, you may be entering the “now what?” phase. With a significant investment on a living product, you want to do everything possible to encourage a successful establishment period before continuing with regular maintenance practices.
If you are still in the decision-making process, be sure to read our Sod University article, All About Bermudagrass Sod for more information about bermuda grass’s growing habits and characteristics. You can also check out our Sod Sales tool below and enter your address to get started with finding the best grass for your needs. This particular article, however, goes into further detail about the establishment process for bermudagrass that takes place after installation.
About Bermuda Grass Establishment
During the first 30 days after installation, your bermuda grass is in the establishment phase in which it needs to take root to your soil and connect with the other pieces of sod you’ve laid. This is an important process as it will determine the overall success of your lawn. Once these 30 days are up, you can begin to transition your bermuda grass to a regular maintenance schedule. Refer to our Bermudagrass Homeowner Maintenance Guide for more details on regular maintenance.
Bermuda grass 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. Bermuda grass can be installed in the form of sod, plugs, seed or stolons. Bermuda grass seed and bermuda grass plugs are gaining popularity, but take longer to grow in compared to bermuda sod.
Sod installation is the most popular of installation methods. Although it is usually the more expensive option, it is the fastest in terms of establishmnet. Installation with grass plugs is significantly cheaper, but it takes several seasons to grow in fully. For more information, read When to Use Sod, Plugs or Seed.
Pictured above: A pallet of Celebration® Bermudagrass sod.
When to Fertilize Newly Sodded Bermuda Grass
Fertilizing your bermuda grass with the proper nutrients is really important during the establishment phase. Sod University recommends the Lawnifi® New Lawn Starter Box, which is a great bermuda grass fertilizer designed for new sod.
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Powered by Catalyst TechnologyTM, Lawnifi is a fertilizer program that nano-sizes its nutrients to use less product with better results. The New Lawn Starter Box contains three bottles of fertilizer each designed to help your new lawn establish thick, healthy grass. You can learn more about Lawnifi in Why Use Lawnifi Fertilizer?.
When to Water Newly Sodded Bermuda Grass
Overall, grass needs three things to survive: 1) soil, 2) sunlight and 3) water. For the first nine days of establishment, you will need to water your bermuda grass twice a day—once in the morning and again in the evening for about 20 minutes each. Starting on day 10, you can reduce your watering schedule to once per day. This can be further reduced to once every other day on day 13 and again on day 16 to one inch of water per week. Make sure that each area of your lawn receives the proper amount of water from your sprinkler system.
Based on where your irrigation or sprinkler heads are placed, some areas of your lawn may receive more water than others—this should be avoided. You don’t want to put your sod through drought, but you also don’t want to overwater your grass and promote disease. Disease can be especially harmful to your new sod that’s trying to establish. You want to promote growth; not hinder it. Conduct an irrigation audit to see the exact amount of water the different areas of your lawn are receiving. If you’re concerned about disease outbreaks or suspect that one might be present, read How to Detect and Treat Fungus in Newly Laid Sod.
During each “watering session,” be sure to water for a long enough time to allow it to seep deep into the soil to be available to the root zone. This usually takes about 20 minutes for most irrigation systems. Make sure you don’t water as much if your area received rainfall.
Another helpful tip for making sure your bermuda grass absorbs enough water is to simply monitor it. You can do this by checking the edges of each piece as well as the overall perimeter of your lawn. The edges of your lawn and the edges of each individual sod pieces are most susceptible to drying out. If you notice this, don’t turn your sprinkler system back on and water your lawn again—this can lead to overwatering or disease. Provide targeted hand-watering with a garden hose to the areas that appear dried out.
Pictured above from left to right: Dew settled on Celebration Bermudagrass and a piece of EMPIRE Zoysia sod that’s drying out along the edges.
When to Mow Newly Sodded Bermuda Grass
The first mow for your bermuda grass lawn should take place around 13–15 days after installation has taken place. This is a rough estimate because it greatly depends on if your new sod has started to put down roots or not. You need to wait for your sod to put down roots because you don’t want your lawn mower pulling up any pieces.
Before mowing your bermuda grass, check it by slightly pulling at the edges of different sod pieces throughout your yard. If the pieces of sod stick to the ground, they’ve started putting down roots. If they don’t stick, you should probably wait a little longer before mowing and continue to check it every few days.
When you mow, be sure to set your mower to the highest setting so that you are only removing the tops of the leaf blades. If you start mowing and the pieces of sod start to come up, your mower is either set too low or your sod hasn’t put down sufficient roots.
Pictured above from left to right: A lawn mower cutting grass and a piece of sod producing prolific white roots that are beginning to establish into the ground.
To recap, use a fertilizer specifically made for new lawns such as Lawnifi’s New Lawn Starter Box to quickly establish healthy roots. You can begin a regular Lawnifi fertilization schedule a month after installation with Lawnifi’s liquid fertilizer program or with Lawnifi Foundation.
Water twice a day for the first nine days, reduce watering to once per day on day 10, further reduce watering to once every other day on day 13 and then transition to around one inch per week as your lawn needs it on day 16. Monitor your lawn to ensure that it is not drying up, paying close attention to the edges as these are the most susceptible.
Lastly, mow your lawn when it is ready. During the growing season, wait 14 days or so and then mow at the highest setting on your mower. To refer to a generic establishment schedule for the first 30 days, visit Establishing a Newly Installed Lawn. Once the first 30 days of establishment are up, refer to our Bermudagrass Homeowner Maintenance Guide for seasonal tips on bermuda grass lawns.
Popular Bermuda Grass Varieties
If you’re still researching how much maintenance and care goes into bermuda grass before completing an installation project, be sure to take a look at our blog on Popular Bermuda Grass Varieties. This blog spends time discussing bermuda grasses like Celebration®, Latitude 36®, NorthBridge®, Tifway 419 and others. If you find that you’re not 100 percent on board with bermuda grass and want to learn about other varieties available, our blog on How to Choose the Right Type of Sod might help you.
Pictured above from left to right: Celebration, Latitude 36, NorthBridge and Tifway 419 Bermudagrass.