Bermuda Bible: The New Testament

Index

BASICS


MAINTENANCE CALENDAR

SPRING (FEB-APR)

Mowing: Begin mowing with the appearance of green grass shoots, cutting the lawn as short as possible without exposing soil. Remove clippings to prevent smothering new growth. You can use a rake if you’d like and don’t be afraid to be abrasive. This allows sunlight to warm the soil, encouraging Bermuda grass development. Mow below your desired height of cut (HOC) for flexibility later. For example, to maintain a lawn at 0.75″, start by mowing to 0.50″. If using a rotary mower, scalp one notch below your target HOC.

Fertilizing: Start fertilizing when the lawn is roughly 50% green, using a balanced fertilizer like 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 at 0.5-1.0 lb of Nitrogen per thousand square feet. This provides sufficient Phosphorus for the year, as it doesn’t easily leach from soil. Maintain with 0.5-1.0 lbs of Nitrogen every 30 days to support Bermuda growth.

Watering: Begin regular watering when the lawn greens by 50%, adjusting for spring rainfall. Early in the season, less than 1″ per week may suffice due to cooler night temperatures and reduced evaporation. Increase watering as temperatures climb. A smart sprinkler controller may help auto-adjust while the season progresses.

Weed Control: Apply pre-emergent herbicides now if not already done. For existing weeds, use appropriate herbicides targeting what you’re dealing with – usually broadleaf, grassy, or sedge weeds. Products like Celsius and Certainty may act slower in cooler temperatures, taking longer to eliminate weeds but are highly effective in bermuda grass lawns.

SUMMER (MAY-AUG)

Mowing: With your lawn fully green, mow twice weekly for optimal appearance. Mowing less frequently, especially above 3″, leads to a sparse and leggy Bermuda. For lawns around 0.5″, consider mowing every other day or using a Plant Growth Regulator (PGR) for maintenance ease. Avoid removing more than 1/3 of the blade in a single mow to prevent damage. For a lawn maintained at 1″, mow before it exceeds 1.5″ to encourage density.

Fertilizing: Continue applying 0.5-1.0 lbs of Nitrogen per thousand square feet monthly during Bermuda’s prime growth season. For thin or bare patches, up to 1.5lbs of Nitrogen monthly can expedite filling and thickening, provided adequate watering.

Watering: Increase irrigation to about 1″ per week, monitoring for drought stress signs. In heat waves exceeding 95°F, water more frequently to maintain health. Bermuda tolerates drought by going dormant but thrives with consistent watering. Adjust irrigation based on soil type—sandy soils require more frequent, lighter watering, while clay soils benefit from less frequent, deeper watering. The goal is to moisten the top 6″ of soil without overwatering or encouraging weed growth.

Weed Control: Apply pre-emergent herbicides now if you haven’t already. For existing weeds, avoid common herbicides in extreme heat to protect Bermuda. Use Celsius/Certainty for effective control, considering the temperature for optimal results. Use MSO (Methylated Seed Oil) or a surfactant cautiously in high temperatures to avoid damaging Bermuda. When spot treating, lightly mist weeds to prevent damage to surrounding grass. A healthy, dense Bermuda lawn naturally suppresses weeds.

FALL (SEP-NOV)

Mowing: As days shorten and temperatures cool, reduce mowing frequency since Bermuda growth slows. Maintain the lowest possible height of cut (HOC) to keep the lawn green as temperatures drop, typically mowing once weekly. Adhere to the 1/3 rule until dormancy, which occurs after a hard frost. “Tiger stripes” post-cold snap are normal and not harmful.

Fertilizing: Continue monthly Nitrogen applications until 30 days before the expected first hard frost, marking the time for the last fertilizer application. This avoids promoting growth as the lawn prepares for winter. Include around 1 lb of Potassium per thousand square feet in your final application to strengthen the grass for dormancy.

Watering: Decrease watering as cooler weather helps soil retain moisture longer. Watering may cease late in the season as growth stops, though occasional watering might be needed during unseasonal heat waves without rain.

Weed Control: Apply pre-emergent herbicide now if you haven’t yet, setting a barrier before winter. This prevents visible weeds in a dormant, brown lawn. Use retail herbicides safely when temperatures are below 85°F, noting cooler weather slows weed killer absorption. Celsius/Certainty remains effective, albeit with slower results due to cooler temperatures.

WINTER (DEC & JAN)

Mowing: With the lawn dormant and brown, cease regular mowing. A final mow after dormancy sets in can smooth and even out the lawn’s appearance.

Fertilizing: Avoid fertilizing dormant Bermuda, as it cannot use the nutrients. If soil tests recommend lime or sulfur, apply it now for slow integration over winter, aiding spring health. Fertilizing during dormancy risks Spring Dead Spot disease, potentially damaging the lawn for months.

Watering: Dormant lawns typically don’t require watering, relying on occasional rainfall or snow. However, in extended dry, hot spells, a single irrigation cycle may be necessary to prevent stress.

Weed Control: Retail herbicides from stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot are generally safe for winter weed control on dormant lawns. Apply cautiously to avoid harming Bermuda, which remains vulnerable beneath the surface. Although popularly recommended in the forums, avoid using Round Up (Glyphosate) on dormant Bermuda to prevent killing the grass, resulting in dead patches by spring.


ADVANCED PRACTICES

This section will continue to expand.

RESEARCH

ADDITIONAL READING