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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 June - August

Fertilization

Apply 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet every 4 to 6 weeks using the March through May fertilizing guidelines.

Insect Control

Follow the March through May insect control guidelines. August is the best time to control white grubs because they are small and close to the soil surface.

Irrigation

Follow the March through May irrigation guidelines.

Mowing

Follow the March through May mowing guidelines.

Thatch Removal

Vertically mow to remove the thatch if it is more than ½ inch thick. Thatch can be removed monthly if the lawn has sufficient time to recover.

Weed Control

Apply postemergence herbicides as needed to control summer annual and perennial broadleaf weeds such as knotweed, spurge, and lespedeza. Crabgrass, goosegrass, dallisgrass, nutsedge, annual sedges, and sandbur can be controlled with postemergence grass control herbicides. Two or three applications 7 to 10 days apart are required for effective control. Apply herbicides only when weeds are present, the grass is actively growing, and the lawn is not suffering from drought stress.

athletic Maintenance for April - June

Fertilization

Apply 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet two or three weeks after the grass turns green. A complete (3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio) fertilizer may be necessary only once or twice annually with remaining applications composed of nitrogen sources such as urea (45-0-0) and ammonium nitrate (33.5-0-0). (See Table 1. below) If growth appears to be slow and the grass is yellowish green, apply a nitrogen source every four to six weeks at 1 pound per thousand square feet as needed.

Test the soil to determine phosphorus, potassium, and lime requirements. Obtain test kits at your Cooperative Extension Service office or from the Agronomic Division Soil, Plant and Nematode Testing, North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Raleigh, NC 27611.

Apply lime as needed, but no more than 50 pounds per thousand square feet per application. Apply in split applications four or more weeks apart if the suggested amount exceeds 50 pounds per thousand square feet. If possible, apply lime just before coring the soil.

Fertilizer Conversion Table
Fertilizer AnalysisPounds of Product
per 1,000 sq. ft.per acre
12-4-88.3360
16-4-86.3272
8-8-812.5540
10-10-1010.0435
46-0-02.295
34-0-02.9125
  1. Amount of product needed to apply 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet.
  2. Amount of product needed to apply 43.5 pounds of nitrogen per acre. To determine the amount of product needed to deliver 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet, divide 100 by the first number in the fertilizer ratio. For example, for a 16-4-8 fetilizer, divide 100 by 16. The result is 6.25 pounds of product per thousand square feet.
Typical Field Sizes in Acres
FieldSize (acres)
Baseball*Little League, Bronco1.2
Pony2
Colt3
Babe Ruth, Senior League, Official3.0 to 3.85
Infield1.2
Field Hockey*1.2
FootballPlaying surface 360' x 160'1.3
Playing surface & bench area 360' X 200'1.6
Hash mark are 300' X 54'0.37
440 Oval2.3
Lacrosse1.4
Rugby*1.4 to 1.7
Soccer*2.2 to 2.7
Softball, Adult*Slow pitch (12"), fast pitch1.5 to 2.0
Modified slow pitch (16")1.2 to 1.7
Softball, Youth*1.5 to 2.0
* varies depending on the following:
  1. size and number of fields
  2. orientation and layout of fields
  3. quality and type of support facilities
  4. internal and external buffer zones

Irrigation

Water in the early morning to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Bermudagrass usually requires a weekly application of about 1 ¼ inches of water. In sandy soils, apply ½ to ¾ inch of water every three to four days. It takes 620 gallons of water to apply 1 inch per thousand square feet. Do not irrigate again until symptoms of wilt appear (folded or curled leaves, footprinting, or bluish green color). Probe the soil to detect dryness. Avoid light, frequent irrigations because they promote shallow rooting and encourage algae and moss growth.

To reduce compaction and wear, do not irrigate for two days before heavy use. Minimize field use when wet. Postpone play or use alternate sites for band practice and practice sessions. Game fields should be used only for team play and not for team practice, physical education, or band practice.

Mowing

Set mower to 1-inch cutting height and remove debris before the grass turns green in the spring. The best mowing height during the growing season is 1 inch for common bermudagrass and ¾ to 1 inch for hybrid bermudagrass. Do not allow bermudagrass to grow above 1 ½ inches between mowings. Two or three weekly mowings may be necessary. Remove only those clippings that windrow.

If the grass gets excessively high during a wet period, raise the mower and cut off one-fourth to one-half of the present growth; then lower the mower to its proper height in a day or two. Reel mowers are preferred for a clean cut. Rotary mowers are a second choice provided the blades are sharp and can be lowered to the appropriate height; however, scalping frequently occurs at lower cutting heights.

Renovation

April and May are preferred for renovating bermudagrass fields.

Soil Cultivation

Vertically mowing to remove thatch (dead plant residue) is essential for bermudagrass, especially for aggressive cultivars such as Vamont and Tifway. Verticut the field with a power rake about two to three weeks after the grass turns green to remove thatch. Run the verticutter over the field twice, with the second pass at right angles to the first, and sweep and haul off the debris.

Aerification (coring) relieves compaction on heavily trafficked athletic fields. Aerate monthly beginning two weeks after the grass turns green during the growing season using ¾- to 1-inch diameter tines that remove soil cores. Aerate the field lengthwise twice and crosswise once to penetrate heavy clay soils. These soils must be moist. (Water the field several days in advance.) Allow the plugs to dry, then pulverize them with a mower or power rake and redistribute with a dragmat. More frequent coring may be necessary along heavily trafficked and compacted areas such as player benches, between hash marks, along sidelines, and in front of goals. Football fields may be aerified right after the last game of the season to avoid disruption of team play.

Rent, borrow, or contract for these services if you do not have equipment on hand. Soil cultivation practices are necessary for an acceptable field; however, do not perform these practices if the turf is under stress. It may take three weeks of good growing conditions for the turf to recover after aerification.

Weed Control

Postemergence* - Grasses and Sedges: Metribuzin (Sencor DF) applied at 0.25 to 0.5 pounds of active ingredient per acre (lb ai/A) will control small crabgrass and goosegrass plants. Do not apply to bermudagrass turf under stress or to turf

MSMA (various brands) applied at 2 to 3 lb ai/A will control crabgrass species, goosegrass, bahiagrass, dallisgrass, sandbur, annual sedge and nutsedge species. Begin treatments when grasses (before tillering) and sedges (3 to 5 leaves) are young. Repeat applications may be needed at 7 to 10 day intervals. Nutsedge species and sandbur may require 3 to 4 applications. Read the MSMA label to determine if a surfactant should be included.

Bentazon (Basagran T/O or Lescogran) will control annual sedge and yellow nutsedge. Apply 1 to 2 lb ai/A and repeat in 10 to 14 days. Do not mow 3 to 5 days before or after treatment.

Imazaquin (Image LC) 0.25 to 0.5 lb ai/A and halosulfuron (Manage) 0.5 to 1 oz ai/A will control green kyllinga, purple nutsedge and yellow nutsedge. Do not apply until after spring greenup. A nonionic surfactant is required for each product. For improved nutsedge species control, MSMA applied at 1.5 lb ai/A can be tank-mixed with Image LC. Manage only suppresses green kyllinga. A second application is usually required 6 to 10 weeks after the initial treatment.

Postemergence* - Broadleaves: Broadleaf weeds such as knotweed, spotted spurge, common lespedeza, dandelion, plantain species, white clover, etc. can be controlled with mixtures containing 2,4-D amine, mecoprop, dicamba, dichlorporp, triclopyr and clopyralid (various brands). Read the label for suggested use rates. For some hard-to-control weeds (common lespedeza, Virginia buttonweed, etc.), applying these products at half the label rate and repeating the application in 7 to 10 days has proven effective.

*Do not mow or water bermudagrass turf for at least 24 hours after application. Treat when air temperature is between 80 F and 90 F. Do not apply to turf under stress.

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