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Ford County

Bermudagrass

Bermudagrass has many desirable qualities fitting today's turfgrass nedds environmental concerns. It is the primary turfgrass in the southern United States and is widely used in Kansas. The potential for water savings with bermudagrass has caused a considerable increase in its use.

Bermudagrass has several positive attributes. It is a durable, heat and drought resistant warm-season grass that requires less water than most other grasses. This grass forms a medium-green, dense, low-growing turf with a medium-fine texture. Bermudagrass is quick to recover from wear injury; thus it is well-adapted for heavily used areas. Compared to buffalograss, bermudagrass is equal in heat and drought tolerance and water requirement, but it forms a denser, greener, more wear- and weed-resistant turf. however, it does require more fertilizer and mowing than buffalograss.

Bermudagrass adapts to a wide range of soil types and has a deep, vigorous root system. Creeping stems growing above and below ground form a dense, erosion-resistant sod. this is valuable on hot, south-facing slopes where other grasses often fail. Also, because of its low growth habit, bermudagrass adapts to close mowing in highly maintained areas.

Bermudagrass grows best in hot, sunny areas where cool-season grasses are difficult to maintain. It is not a shade-tolerant grass, but a few hours of shade each day will not result in a noticeable decline in quality. However, as shade increases, bermudagrass will decline in quality and density.

On the negative side, bermudagrass is difficult to keep out of flower beds and gardens because of its aggressive growth habit. Also, because it is a warm-season grass, it greens up later in the spring and turns brown earlier in the fall than cool-season grasses such as tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass.

Planting

Because bermudagrass is a warm-season grass, it establishes best after the soil and air temperatures are warm and there is no longer a danger from spring frost. Mid-May through July is the best time for planting. Later planting may not completely fill in before winter, while earlier plantings are slow to establish and often are taken over by weeds.

The soil should be prepared several weeks before it is time to plant. Soil preparation is the same whether using seed, sod, plugs or springs. The first step is to test the soil to determine if any of the essential nutrients are deficient. Grade the soil surface so it drains away from the house and blends with the surrounding terrain. Do not leave low spots where water will stand. After grading, till the soil as deeply as possible and incorporate the recommended nutrients from the soil test. After a final finish grading is needed.

Sod is the quickest but most expensive method used to establish a bermudagrass lawn. After it is placed onto prepared soil, one has an instant lawn. However, frequent watering is needed until the sod roots into the soil.

Sprigging is a method of planting stems from shredded turf in shallow furrows. This method is less commonly used because of the amount of work involved in planting. Stolonizing is an alternative method where the sprigs are scattered on the soil surface and covered with topdressing.

If using seeded variety, broadcast the seed on prepared soil with a fertilizer spreader, rake lightly and water in. Seeding rates depend on the kind of seed purchased - hulled, unhulled or coated. Applying a thin layer of weed-free straw over the soil surface will protect the seed and speed up germination.

With all methods of planting, it will be necessary to keep the soil moist until the grass is established. Keep weeds under control and being mowing as soon as the grass becomes tall enough.

Mowing

Bermudagrass can be mowed anywhere from ½ to 2 inches. When mowed twice a week at 1 inch with a reel mower, bermudagrass forms a dense and even turf. Mowing at 2 inches results in less maintenance, requiring mowing only once every 10 days or so. When mowing, don't remove more than one-third of the foliage. Cutting too much foliage will put the grass in shock and result in stemmy turf. The shorter you keep the grass, the more often you will need to mow.

When mowing more than 1 inch, use a rotary mower. If you prefer a shorter lawn (1 inch or less) a reel mower will be required. It is not neceessary to collect clippings if you mow frequently enough - the clippings will filter into the turf where they quickly decompose and return nutrients to the soil.

Fertilizing

The amount of fertilizer used sets the level of turf maintenance. If only 2 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet are applied during the season, less watering and mowing will be required. Applying 4 pounds of actual nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet will produce a dark green color, but more mowing and watering will be required.

Fertilizer can be applied in either liquid or granular form. Both are effective, the only difference between them is the method of application. Fertilizer should be applied May through August. Put only 1 pound of nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet on the lawn at a time; more may cause excessive growth. The grass foliage should be dry at the  time of application to avoid fertilizer burn. Be careful when applying, ensure the correct amount is uniformly applied, or it may cause streaks in the lawn.

Bermudagrass Publications

Bermudagrass Lawns

Spring Dead Sport

 

Recommended Varieties

Most bermudagrass varieties on the market are developed in the South and are not adapted to Kansas. It is important to select a cold-hardy variety that will survive Kansas winters. Midlawn, a new variety developed by K-State, is the most cold tolerant lawn variety on the market and is especially well-adapted to Kansas conditions. However, several seeded varieties have improved cold tolerance and can be grown in the southern half of the state. They include: Guymon, Cheyenne and Sun Devil. The best bermudagrasses are the vegetative types that must be planted by sod, plugs or sprigs.

Drought Resistant

Bermudagrass is drought resistant and does not need as much water as fescue. Remember a higher cut turf does not need to be watered as much. Don't water on a calendar basis; rather, monitor the turf and the soil. Water when it is hot and dry, watching for signs of wilting. The onset of wilting is accompanied by a change in turf color to a bluish-gray cast.

When watering, soak the turf thoroughly to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Avoid light, frequent watering (except on newly-planted lawns) because it causes shallow rooting. Try to water in the morning when the temperature is cooler and it is less windy.

Weed Resistant

Bermudagrass is fairly resistant to weeds, however there are occasional problems if the turf is thin. Weed invasion occurs primarily in early spring and late fall when the grass is dormant and unable to compete with weeds. The most common weed problems are dandelion, chickweed and henbit. It is best to control these weeds in the fall when they are young. Use an herbicide labeled for the particular weed being sprayed. By spring, weeds are established and more difficult to control. Additionally, chickweed and henbit are winter annuals that will die in the summer when bermudagrass is vigorously growing. Therefore, spring applications of herbicides to those weeds are wasteful.

Spring weed control largely consists of preventing crabgrass by using a preemergence herbicide. This should be applied at about the time when redbud trees are in full-bloom or are beginning to leaf out.