Lots of people love bermuda grass because it thrives in so many conditions. It’s fine with humidity but also drought-tolerant. It feels good on your feet, yet can handle lots of foot traffic. There’s plenty to love about this low-maintenance grass. But, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a little care throughout the year, including the right fertilizer. The best fertilizer for bermuda grass is one with plenty of nitrogen, some potassium and little to no phosphorus. This blend of nutrients, called the NPK ratio, will help your bermuda grass look its best.
Most fertilizers come in liquid, water-soluble or granular form. Both liquid and water-soluble fertilizers are easy to apply. You attach the fertilizer container to your garden hose and spray an even layer throughout the yard. Liquid fertilizers absorb quickly, which means they may need to be applied more often than other forms, like granular fertilizer. This dry form of fertilizer is scattered over the grass either by hand or using a wheeled tool called a broadcast spreader. Granular fertilizers typically last longer than liquid ones and need fewer applications throughout the year.
Bermuda grass is a warm-season grass, so it’s best to apply fertilizer in late spring or early summer. Or, once the grass has greened up and is in its growing season. You can fertilize again in fall, a month or two before the first expected frost. If you have bare patches in your yard and you want to overseed those areas, wait a couple of weeks after fertilizing in spring to spread the seed. Bermuda grass can also benefit from another fertilizer application in June.
How much fertilizer you use on your bermuda grass depends on the square footage of your lawn. Applying the right amount, and applying it evenly throughout the yard, is the only way to get the density, thickness and rich, uniformly green color of grass that you’re going for. If you apply too much fertilizer in any given area, it can create yellow or brown spots or streaks in the otherwise green grass.
Granular fertilizer is the easiest form of fertilizer for most people to apply evenly. Whichever type you decide to use, read the instructions on the package to find out how much to apply on your particular size of yard. Then follow the instructions carefully, paying special attention to making sure you spread it out as evenly as possible so there’s no extra fertilizer buildup in any given area.
Some people choose to have their soil tested to find out the right NPK ratio for their soil’s existing nutrient content. Though this isn’t difficult, for many people, it understandably seems like a lot of trouble. It can also be tough to feel certain that you’re applying the right amount of fertilizer and at the right times of year.
For many people, the simplest, most trouble-free way to make sure their bermuda grass thrives is to hire a lawn care specialist. Specialists can handle the ongoing duties of caring for the lawn. This can include regular mowing and watering along with less frequent but still important tasks like periodic aerating, fertilizing and weed control.
What Causes Brown Spots in Bermuda Grass?
Brown spots in bermuda grass are not just a frustrating eyesore. Unfortunately, they almost always indicate some type of lawn problem that needs addressing. Brown spots can be caused by anything from dog urine to grub worms to fungal diseases like brown patch. Or, even by unevenly applied fertilizer that has “burned” the grass. Whatever the cause, there are almost always things you can do to resolve the brown spots in bermuda grass and bring back the deep green color.
For one, dog urine can cause brown spots in the lawn. Dogs are creatures of habit that like to “do their business” in the same area over and over. This can cause the mineral content of their urine to build up in the soil, leading to discoloration in your grass. If you think this might be the cause of your lawn’s brown spots, you can encourage your pet to eliminate in other areas of the yard rather than always in the same spot. You can also water their elimination area with a hose to dilute the urine.
Dog urine is just one cause of brown patches in grass, however. Brown patches can also develop in bermuda grass at pet-free homes. When this happens, it might indicate some type of grass disease, such as brown patch. Brown patch is a fungal disease that is common in mid- to late summer, the hottest and most humid time of year. Brown patch disease shows up as irregularly shaped yellowish-brown patches in your grass. The grass within the patch might thin out over time, or it might even die off completely.
Overwatering your grass, too much thatch built up at the soil level and nitrogen buildup in the soil are all factors that can cause brown patch disease. Dethatching, taking care not to water your lawn too much, and addressing mineral imbalances in the soil can all help resolve brown patches due to fungal disease. Sometimes, fungicide is needed. Since these products can be toxic if they aren’t used properly, they are best applied by a lawn care professional.
The presence of pests like grubs in the soil can also cause brown patches in bermuda grass. Grubs are the larval stage of various types of beetles. They look like fat, whitish-gray caterpillars, usually with brownish-red heads and six legs clustered on their bodies near the head. Grubs live in soil and start feeding on grass roots in spring before developing into pupae. Their munching on the roots makes the grass incapable of getting enough of the water and nutrients it needs to thrive. If there are grubs infesting your lawn, the grass roots will be so weak that you should easily be able to pull up a patch of grass to check for these pests.
It can be tough to figure out what’s causing brown patches in your lawn. This is why many people choose to hire a lawn care professional who can determine the cause of brown patches in the lawn. Then, can figure out the best techniques and products to return your grass to a healthy and uniform green color.
Common Weeds in Bermuda Grass Lawns
When Bermuda grass is healthy, it’s not very susceptible to weeds. Thick, lush grass is its own weed preventative. Since weeds are opportunistic, they generally won’t bother trying to compete with well-established turfgrass. Still, bermuda grass can sometimes develop weeds, especially if the grass is unhealthy or isn’t able to grow thickly. There are a few common weeds in bermuda grass lawns, including broadleaf weeds like dandelions, purslane, chickweed, doveweed and white clover, and weed grasses like dallisgrass and crabgrass.
Dandelions are pretty easily identified, since they produce bright yellow flowers in spring as well as the soft, white, fluffy tufts of seeds that kids love to blow into the wind. Dandelions might grow as circular, relatively flat plants in the lawn, or they might grow tall, depending on the species.
Purslane is a type of succulent weed that grows low to the ground. It has thick, oblong green leaves that grow along stems of a purplish, reddish or brownish color. Chickweed also grows close to the ground, but it has smaller, more delicate green leaves and produces clusters of tiny white flowers. White clover is yet another low-growing weed that also produces white flowers. However, white clover produces larger flowers than chickweed, and has leaves that grow in groups of three.
Crabgrass and dallisgrass can somewhat disappear into bermuda grass, especially after mowing, since they are grasses themselves. Both of these weed grasses grow in clumps, however, and crabgrass has a wider, softer-looking blade than bermuda grass. Mowing your bermuda grass lawn can make these weed grasses less noticeable, but it won’t be enough to control them.
Some types of weeds are annuals, meaning they grow from seeds and die off each year. Other types of weeds are perennials—weeds that die back in winter, but which store needed nutrients in their roots so they can resurge in spring. Both types of weeds can be difficult and frustrating to address when they take over your yard. But, perennial weeds like dandelion and white clover can be especially tough for many homeowners to control.
Applying a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring can help control both annual and perennial weeds. Just keep in mind that pre-emergents won’t help if the weeds have already popped up and gotten established in your lawn. To get rid of existing weeds that have already popped up, a post-emergent product is needed. When selecting a product, be sure to read the label carefully to make sure you are choosing something that won’t damage your lawn, since certain weed control products can be harmful to bermuda grass.
To take the guesswork out of weed control in your yard, reach out to a lawn care specialist. These professionals know the right products and techniques for controlling common weeds in bermuda grass lawns without hurting the grass itself. You can even set up ongoing lawn care so your grass will be cared for through every season, so it can thrive.
ABC Can Keep Your Bermuda Grass Healthy
It can feel like a never-ending journey to figure out a bermuda grass lawn care calendar that works for our lawn. Instead of continuing on with this guessing game, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our lawn care team can create a lawn maintenance schedule that ensures your lawn stays healthy throughout the year.