Bermudagrass is a medium- to fine-textured warm-season turfgrass that spreads by rhizomes and stolons. It has excellent heat, drought, and salt tolerance but does not do well in shade. Bermudagrass is the most widely used species on athletic fields and golf course fairways/tee boxes due to its high wear tolerance and rapid recovery. It can also be a very invasive and hard to control weed in some turf settings. Bermudagrass can be confused with nimblewill. However, nimblewill has a membranous ligule, which can be distinguished from the hairy ligule of bermudagrass. Bermudagrass is also often confused with zoysiagrass, but zoysiagrass has hairs standing upright on the leaf blade, whereas bermudagrass does not. Zoysiagrass is also stiff to the touch and offers more resistance to your hand than bermudagrass. Zoysiagrass leaf vernation is rolled whereas bermudagrass leaf vernation is folded. There are many different hybrids of bermudagrass that range from fine to coarse in leaf texture. As a weed, bermudagrass is sometimes referred to as wiregrass.
Do not fertilize bermudagrass that has not been overseeded. For overseeded bermudagrass, apply ½ pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet in December and February. In the absence of a soil test, use a complete (N-P-K) turf-grade fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio (for example, 12-4-8 or 16-4-8).
Dormant bermudagrass may have to be watered periodically to prevent desiccation, especially when warm, windy weather prevails. Watering is particularly important for lawns that have been overseeded.
Mow overseeded bermudagrass at 1 inch before the grass gets taller than 1½ inches. Recycle nutrients by not collecting the clippings unless they accumulate heavily on the surface. Dormant bermudagrass that has not been overseeded need not be mowed.
Apply broadleaf herbicides as needed to control weed such as chickweed, henbit, and hop clover. Selective herbicides can be applied in November or December to lawns that have not been overseeded to control annual bluegrass (Poa annua) and several winter annual broadleaf weeds.
Do not fertilize athletic fields that have not been overseeded. Apply no more than ½ pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet to winter overseeded fields every three to four weeks.
Dormant turf may need to be irrigated when warm, windy weather prevails. Winter overseeded fields lose greater amounts of water than fields that have not been overseeded. Probe the soil to determine dryness.
Mow baseball infields overseeded with ryegrass at ½ to ¾ inch and outfields, sidelines, football fields, and soccer fields at ¾ to 1 ½ inches. Reduce mowing height two weeks before the grass is expected to turn green in the spring to weaken ryegrass and allow bermudagrass to respond with minimum competition.
Do not power rake or aerify dormant fields until the soil temperature approaches 50 F at a depth of 4 inches. Initiate verticutting of winter overseeded bermudagrass two weeks before it is expected to turn green in the spring to weaken ryegrass and enhance bermudagrass recovery. Coring the soil at this time helps warm the soil.
If atrazine or simazine were not applied in autumn, glyphosate (various brands) may be used for postemergence annual bluegrass, winter annual and perennial broadleaf weed control. This treatment should be applied to dormant bermudagrass turf at a rate of 0.5 pound of active ingredient per acre (lb ai/A). Read the label for surfactant recommendations.
Crabgrass species and goosegrass should be controlled preemergence in February and March. A general guideline is to apply preemergence herbicides when forsythias are in full bloom. In Wake county, this occurs in mid to late February. Many preemergence crabgrass herbicides are not suggested for use in bermudagrass athletic fields. These include the dinitroaniline family herbicides and prodiamine (Barricade) which are root inhibitors. These products provide good to excellent crabgrass species control and fair to good goosegrass control. However, they can adversely affect bermudagrass rooting at the nodes of the stolons. Heavy play or traffic on the turf while affected could result in significant stand loss. Bermudagrass is least affected by oxadiazon (Ronstar G, 50WP) applications. Ronstar 50WP should be applied to dormant, established bermudagrass 2 to 3 weeks before greenup. Ronstar formulations should be applied at 2 to 3 lb ai/A.
View this presentation
View this publication
raceme; 3-5 spikes that join at the top of a main stem.
leaves folded in the bud
fringe of hairs 0.04 - 0.12 inches (1 - 3 mm) long
warm season turf or perennial weed
sharp-pointed; sparsely hairy, edges rough, leaf blade soft
0.06 - 0.1 inches (1.5 - 3 mm) wide
continuous; not hairy, may be hairy on edges
Whether you’re a professional superintendent for a pro team or a local high school athletic field director, the NCSU Sports Turf App contains sports turf specific information to help improve your fields.
Please read these instructions before downloading the software:
Click below to download the software: