How To Seed Bermuda Grass

Although seeding is generally inferior to sodding since F1 hybrids are only available vegetatively, let’s talk about how to do it for those who have weighed the options and decided on doing so.

The reason you shouldn’t seed it is because most varieties available by seed are common Bermuda grass which are not as good as F1 hybrid Bermuda grass varieties. There are improved premium varieties like Monaco that are competitive with hybrid varieties, but seeded varieties from a big box stores are inferior and not recommended.

It is also not recommended to overseed if you have existing Bermuda grass as it will not match.

Seeding is only 50% cheaper than using sod anyways. Seeding can be done in the springtime. According to a study, Bermuda grass shows the best cover after winter if seeded by July 15, achieving over 95% coverage.

Locations: West Lafayette, Indiana, and the University of Kentucky

Step 1: Kill Existing Lawn with 41% Glyphosate

To ensure your new Bermuda grass can establish without competition, begin by eradicating all existing vegetation. Apply a 41% glyphosate solution to the entire lawn area according to the label instructions. This non-selective herbicide will kill most green plants it contacts, so use it carefully. Apply it 3 times, 5-7 days apart so you are sure everything green is dead. Not everything will be killed one the first spray. Similar to painting a wall, multiple light coats is more effective than one heavy coat.

Step 2: Prepare the Soil

Clear the dead vegetation and debris off your lawn. Use a rake or a tiller to loosen the top 2-3 inches of soil. This process improves the soil’s aeration and texture, making it easier for grass roots to penetrate deeply and evenly. For better results, enrich the soil by mixing in organic compost or quality topsoil to enhance fertility. Be sure to screen the top soil as most top soil has chunks of debris which are not ideal in a lawn. You should also level your lawn now (which you can follow our guide, but you don’t need to use sand).

Step 3: Test and Amend Soil

Perform a soil test to check pH and nutrient levels; Bermuda grass thrives in a slightly acidic to neutral pH (5.8 to 7.0). Depending on the test results, amend the soil with lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it. Additionally, incorporate a starter fertilizer high in phosphorus to support root growth during the initial stages.

Step 4: Choose the Right Seed

Select a Bermuda grass seed that suits your local climate and lawn conditions. Consider factors such as drought tolerance, resistance to pests, and sun exposure. High-quality seeds ensure better germination rates and ultimately a denser, more resilient lawn. A few top seeded cultivars are:

  • Monaco
  • Blackjack
  • Princess 77
  • Yukon
Source: Investment Yields Bermudagrass
Cultivars with High Quality and
Improved Cold-Hardiness

National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) data

Step 5: Seed the Lawn

Distribute the seeds evenly using a broadcast spreader at the recommended rate which may be about 1 to 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet. The label of the bag of seed may tell you the rate you should use. After spreading the seeds, lightly rake the surface to ensure seeds make contact with the soil, which is essential for proper germination. Top dress with peat moss or compost. Peat moss is ideal because it doesn’t breakdown like compost, but it’s also expensive.

In a study, Bermudagrass seeded at 49 kg/ha reached similar coverage as those seeded at higher rates of up to 146 kg/ha by 42 days after seeding.

  • 49 kilograms per hectare converts to about 0.89 pounds per 1000 square feet.
  • 146 kilograms per hectare converts to about 2.61 pounds per 1000 square feet.
Seed rates don’t necessarily create better coverage.

Step 6: Water Properly

Immediately after seeding, water your lawn to keep the top inch of soil moist but not waterlogged. Aim to mist the area three to four times daily, avoiding runoff. If the seeds dry out, they die. Reduce the frequency to once daily when grass sprouts reach about an inch tall, transitioning to deeper, less frequent watering to encourage root growth.

Step 7: First Mowing and Feeding

When your Bermuda grass reaches about 3 inches in height, it’s time for its first trim. Mow the lawn, cutting no more than one-third of the grass blade length to avoid stressing the new plants. After mowing, apply a balanced lawn fertilizer to promote vigorous growth and establishment of the lawn.

You do not need to apply a high nitrogen fertilizer. In a study, it was found that regular nitrogen applications of 49 kg/ha monthly did not hasten establishment significantly, with coverage rates remaining consistent regardless of increased nitrogen levels

Step 8: Ongoing Care

Maintain your Bermuda lawn by regular mowing, watering, and fertilizing according to the needs of the grass. Annual aeration and dethatching will prevent soil compaction and thatch buildup, respectively, ensuring your lawn remains healthy and attractive. Regular care also includes controlling weeds and pests as necessary.

Effects of herbicides applied to newly established bermudagrass.

Post-emergent quinclorac was found to be safe when applied at least a week after emergence, with coverage rates returning to near 100% within seven weeks.

Photo by Clayton Nicholas. Monaco Bermuda at 0.345 height of cut.

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