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Bermudagrass

Description

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.

lawn Maintenance for December - February

Fertilization

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).

Irrigation

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.

Mowing

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.

Weed Control

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.

athletic Maintenance for September - December

Fertilization

Do not apply more than ½ pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet (22 pounds per acre) after September 15. Use a low-nitrogen, high-potassium fertilizer such as 200 pounds of 5-10-30 per acre or supplement straight nitrogen sources with potash (K2O) using 70 pounds of muriate of potash (0-0-60), 86 pounds of potassium sulfate (0-0-50), or 220 pounds of sul-po-mag (0-0-22) per acre. Repeat in three weeks. Bermudagrass must be green and growing actively (not dormant) to benefit from this application. Irrigate immediately after application to prevent turf discoloration. Potassium lessens the chance of bermudagrass winterkill. Avoid the use of nitrogen unless fields are to be overseeded with annual or perennial ryegrass.

To determine the amount of product required to apply 1 pound of potash per thousand square feet, divide 100 by the third number in the fertilizer ratio. For example, for 6-6-12 fertilizer, divide 100 by 12. The result is 8.3 pounds of product per thousand square feet.

Irrigation

Follow the April-June irrigation procedures.

Reduce compaction and wear by avoiding irrigation before heavy use. Minimize field use under wet conditions. Postpone play or use alternate sites for band and athletic practice sessions. Game fields should be used only for team play and not for team practice, physical education, or band practice.

Mowing

Follow the April-June mowing guidelines until several weeks before the first expected frost. Raise the mowing height ½ inch as winter approaches if fields are not scheduled to be winter overseeded. Mowing height is usually raised in mid- to late September in the piedmont. Mowing height of athletic fields in the western and northwestern areas of the piedmont may be raised to one to two weeks earlier, whereas in the south central and southwestern regions it may be raised one to two weeks later. Do not exceed a 2-inch cutting height.

Soil Cultivation

Do not vertical mow, dethatch (power rake), or aerate (core) bermudagrass fields unless you plan to overseed in the fall. This can result in bermudagrass injury because plants are not able to successfully recover before winter.

Bermudagrass fields should not be renovated at this time of year.

Weed Control

Annual bluegrass and many winter annual broadleaf weeds can be effectively controlled in bermudagrass turf from autumn to early winter. These weeds, if left nontreated and at high densities, will outcompete bermudagrass the following spring for sunlight, thus delaying bermudagrass greenup. For nonoverseeded bermudagrass, atrazine (Purge, AAtrex) applied at 1 to 2 pounds of active ingredient per acre (lb ai/A) should be applied from November 15 to December 31 to dormant turf. Usually, 1 lb ai/A is sufficient when applied in November - early December. Simazine (Princep DF) should be applied from November 15 to December 15 at rates similar to atrazine. Along with annual bluegrass, these herbicides provide preemergence and/or postemergence control of chickweed, speedwell and clover species, lawn burweed, henbit, Carolina geranium, etc.

Winter Overseeding

Fields used late in the fall, in winter, or in early spring may be overseeded with cool-season grasses to provide color and protection. Baseball fields are frequently overseeded. However, spring recovery and growth of bermudagrass will be delayed by the overseeded grass.

Presentations

Publications

Species Data

Seedhead/Flower

raceme; 3-5 spikes that join at the top of a main stem.

p1060821
p1060821
p1060821
Vernation type

leaves folded in the bud

dscn1050
dscn1050
dscn1050
Ligule Type

fringe of hairs 0.04 - 0.12 inches (1 - 3 mm) long

ligule
ligule
ligule
Growth Season/Life Cycle

warm season turf or perennial weed

Auricle type

absent

ligule
ligule
ligule
Leaf blade tip shape

sharp-pointed; sparsely hairy, edges rough, leaf blade soft

dscn1037
dscn1037
dscn1037
Leaf blade width

0.06 - 0.1 inches (1.5 - 3 mm) wide

Stolon Presence

present; stout

stolon2
stolon2
stolon2
weed4
weed4
weed4
Rhizome Presence

present; stout

Collar Type

continuous; not hairy, may be hairy on edges

dscn1039
dscn1039
dscn1039
dscn1041
dscn1041
dscn1041
vernation2
vernation2
vernation2
Sheath Margin

open

dscn1047
dscn1047
dscn1047
sheath hairs
sheath hairs
sheath hairs