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 and Athletic Field Maintenance

Bermudagrass as a Weed

Cultural Control

Most turfgrasses are difficult to control within another turfgrass. Therefore, turf managers should select clean seed or vegetative sources for establishment, use an adapted turfgrass species and cultivar for their location, and use proper mowing and fertilization techniques to maintain a dense, actively growing, desired turf. Digging or removal with hand or mechanical equipment, for example a sod cutter, is one way to control undesired perennial turfgrasses. You may spot treat an infested area with an appropriate non-selective herbicide, realizing it will also kill the desired turfgrass.

Chemical Control

Herbicide and Formulation Amount of Formulation Per 1,000 Sq Ft Amount of Formulation Per Acre Pounds Active Ingredient Per Acre
Postemergence Control
topramezone, MOA 27 (2.8 L) (Pylex) 0.023 to 0.034 fl oz 1 to 1.5 fl oz 0.021875 to 0.0328125
Precaution and Remarks: Labeled for broadcast treatment use in residential and athletic field turf, as well as in nonresidential turf sites including sod farms, golf courses (excluding greens and collars), parks, roadsides, cemeteries, and commercial properties. Tolerant turf species include Kentucky bluegrass, tall and fine fescue, perennial ryegrass, and centipedegrass at seeding and then anytime beyond 28 days after seeding. Add crop oil concentrate or methylated seed oil for enhanced control at 0.5 to 1% by volume. Don’t apply greater than 2 fluid ounces per acre per application or 4 fluid ounces per acre per year. Bleaching intensity of susceptible weeds reduced and broadleaf weed spectrum increased if tankmixed with quinclorac, [quinclorac + mecoprop + dicamba] or triclopyr. For suppression of above-listed weeds, add triclopyr at 1 pound ai per acre and make either 2 or 3 applications at 3 to 4 week intervals depending on topramezone rate. Creeping bentgrass is marginally tolerant to topramezone at 0.25 fluid ounces per acre. Test on a small area before large-scale use. Sequential applications may be required to achieve desired level of weed control. For bermudagrass and sheashore paspalum use 0.5 to 0.75 ounces per acre plus MSO at 1.5 pints per acre. Apply only to established bermudagrass and seashore paspalum.​
clethodim, MOA 1 (0.97 EC) (various brands) 0.4 to 0.8 fl oz 17 to 34 fl oz 0.125 to 0.25
Precaution and Remarks: For use on sod farms only. Do not apply to centipedegrass being grown for seed. Do not apply until 3 weeks after full greenup of centipedegrass in spring. Do not mow for 1 week before and after application. The addition of a nonionic surfactant at 0.25 % solution (1 pint per 50 gallons water) or a crop oil concentrate at 1% solution (2 quart per 50 gallons water) is necessary for control. A repeat application usually 3 to 4 weeks after the first application will be required for bermudagrass control. Use higher rates for more established bermudagrass. Do not apply more than 68 ounces of clethodim per acre per year. Some discoloration of centipedegrass will occur at higher rates.​
Supression / Control
fenoxaprop, MOA 1 (0.57 EC) (Acclaim Extra) 0.46 fl oz 1.25 pt 0.089
Precaution and Remarks: Use on Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fine and tall fescue, and zoysiagrass. Apply June 1, July 1, Aug. 1, Sept. 1, repeat for 2 years. Can be tankmixed with 1 pt per acre triclopyr following the same schedule as above. Apply June 1 and Aug. 1 for 2 years if tank mixed with 1 quart per acre triclopyr. Zoysia may show discoloration but should recover in 10 to 14 days following tankmix applications.​
fluazifop, MOA 1 (2 EC) (Fusilade II) 0.05 to 0.14 fl oz 2 to 6 fl oz 0.03 to 0.09
Precaution and Remarks: Use on tall fescue or zoysia. For fescue, apply 5 to 6 ounces per acre during warm weather in early spring when bermudagrass is breaking dormancy; repeat in fall when bermudagrass is preparing for dormancy. For zoysia, apply 4 ounces per acre on June 1, Aug. 1; repeat for 2 years. Can tank-mix with 1 quart per acre triclopyr following schedule above. Zoysia or tall fescue may show slight discoloration but should recover in 10 to 14 days. Add a nonionic surfactant at 0.25% v/v. Apply in a minimum of 30 gallons of water per acre.​
siduron, MOA 7 (50 WP) (Tupersan) 0.5 to 1 lb 21.78 to 43.56 lb 10.88 to 21.78
Precaution and Remarks: Apply as 8- to 12-inch band treatment with a single nozzle sprayer along putting green perimeter to suppress bermudagrass stolon encroachment. Initiate in March or April, and continue subsequent applications at 4- to 5-week intervals.​
triclopyr, MOA 4 (4 EC) (various brands) 0.73 fl oz 1 qt 1.0
Precaution and Remarks: Use on perennial bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue or ornamental turf including sod farms and golf courses. Do not apply to zoysia unless injury can be tolerated. Apply June 1, July 1, Aug. 1, Sept. 1, repeat for 2 years. Can be tank-mixed with fenoxaprop or fluazifop at rates, timings listed above. New low-odor formulation uses methylated seed oil solvents instead of petroleum distillates. ​

Species Data

    • raceme; 3-5 spikes that join at the top of a main stem
      ​Figure 1
    • fringe of hairs 0.04 - 0.12 inches (1 - 3 mm) long
      ​Figure 3
    • warm season turf or perennial weed
    • sharp-pointed; sparsely hairy, edges rough, leaf blade soft
      Figure 4
    • 0.06 - 0.1 inches (1.5 - 3 mm) wide
    • present; stout
    • sheath is sparsely hairy; flattened to round, loose
      ​Figure 7
Figure 1. Bermudagrass seedhead.Figure 1. Bermudagrass seedhead.Figure 2. Bermudagrass vernation.Figure 2. Bermudagrass vernation.Figure 3. Bermudagrass ligule.Figure 3. Bermudagrass ligule.Figure 4. Bermudagrass leaf blade.Figure 4. Bermudagrass leaf blade.Figure 5. Bermudagrass stolons.Figure 5. Bermudagrass stolons.Figure 6. Bermudagrass stolons.Figure 6. Bermudagrass stolons.Figure 7. Bermudagrass collar.Figure 7. Bermudagrass collar.Figure 8. Bermudagrass collar.Figure 8. Bermudagrass collar.Figure 9. Bermudagrass collar.Figure 9. Bermudagrass collar.Figure 10. Bermudagrass sheath.Figure 10. Bermudagrass sheath.Figure 11. Bermudagrass sheath hairs.Figure 11. Bermudagrass sheath hairs.

Written By

Photo of Dr. Charles PeacockDr. Charles PeacockProfessor and Extension Turfgrass Specialist (919) 515-7615 charles_peacock@ncsu.eduCrop and Soil Sciences - NC State University
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