Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) is fast-growing, hardy, and a top choice for those seeding their lawn. In this article, we will answer when exactly Bermuda grass grows and when you can expect it to go dormant.
Bermuda grass grows most in the warm months, typically from late spring through summer. You can expect this grass to go dormant when cold temperatures arrive, from mid-November through March.
You know when Bermuda grass goes dormant, but what happens to your grass in this state? Keep reading as we answer what happens when your grass goes dormant and how you can encourage Bermuda grass to grow.
What Happens When Bermuda Grass Goes Dormant?
Bermuda grass is native to tropical and subtropical climates. This is why this warm-season grass requires plenty of sunlight. This grass experiences environmental stress in cooler temperatures, causing it to go dormant.
Dormancy is simply a phase of time when your grass is not actively growing. As this grass enters dormancy, you will notice the usually green grass turn brown and even look dead.
This dull look is because your grass's leaves and top stems stop growing. However, the underground stems and runners above the ground continue to grow.
Bermuda grass will remain dormant until temperatures rise above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. After several days or weeks of warmer weather, your grass turns green once again.
It can take 2-4 weeks for the top growth of Bermuda grass to turn completely green after coming out of dormancy.
Read more on our blog post, How Deep Do Bermuda Grass Roots Grow?
How Can I Tell If My Bermuda Grass Is Dead Or Dormant?
Seeing your grass turn brown can be alarming, and you may be wondering if this is due to a normal dormant state or if your grass is dying. Luckily, there are ways to tell if your grass is dead or just transitioning.
In a dormant state, your Bermuda grass should still have strong roots anchored in the ground. When you see browning grass, you can gently tug on some blades of grass. If the grass easily pulls from the ground, it may be dead.
In general, the roots of dormant grass will remain in the ground when you try to pull.
Another way to tell if your grass is dormant or dying is by inspecting the browning patterns of your lawn. When Bermuda grass is going dormant, your entire yard will start to turn brown. Dying grass will brown in patches or sections.
Dormant grass will begin to grow again, while dead grass won't. If you suspect your grass is dead, you will need to resolve the underlying issue to get your grass and the soil below back to a healthy state.
Learn more on our blog post, Why Is My Grass Dying In Patches?
How Do You Encourage Bermuda Grass To Grow?
When your grass comes out of its dormant state, you might be eager to get it back to a green, healthy state. Luckily, there are ways to encourage your Bermuda grass to perk up.
Let's look at what you can do to care for your grass below.
1. Mow Frequently
Bermuda grass is fast-growing and can get out of control quickly if not mowed frequently. You should cut low and often, keeping your grass at 1-1.5 inches tall.
You may need to mow your lawn once per week during the peak growing season.
Continue mowing up until your grass enters dormancy and stops growing.
2. Check Soil Quality
Ensuring your soil is of good quality will encourage growth and help maintain your lawn's health. Bermuda grass grows best in soils with a pH between 5.8 and 7.0. This grass can tolerate more alkaline environments but will require more supplementation in acidic soils.
If your soil is overly acidic, consider adding lime powder to neutralize it.
Use soil testing strips to check your soil and make amendments during the growing season.
When your Bermuda grass is no longer dormant, you can fertilize your lawn to encourage growth. Nitrogen fertilizers will help your grass grow fuller and more green quicker.
You can fertilize once every 60 days in the peak growing season to keep up with the growth rate. The last time you add fertilizer to your Bermuda grass should be about four weeks before the first frost.
4. Weed Control
Controlling weeds is another way to promote the growth of your Bermuda grass. Weeds take away nutrients from your grass.
You can take steps to prevent weeds from growing on your lawn, encouraging the health of your grass.
You can start weed prevention in early Spring by applying weed prevention as early as February. Lay down this solution before the weeds have time to germinate.
If weeds emerge in your lawn during the growing season, you can control weeds by applying a weed and feed fertilizer while your grass is still growing.
It is ideal to lay down this fertilizer about 4-5 weeks before the year's first frost.
5. Aerate Your Lawn
As you know, Bermuda grass grows fast and can become dense. This type of growth can lead to excess thatch. This layer creates an environment that encourages pests and disease and will stunt the growth of your grassroots.
Avoid excess thatch by aerating your lawn. This process can be done in the spring, allowing better airflow and nutrients for your grass. Aeration can be accomplished by simply removing plugs of soil.
Aeration is best when your grass is actively growing. However, if you have freshly planted grass, you should wait until the following year to aerate when your roots are mature and strong.
However, newly planted grass can receive irreversible damage if aerated too early.
If you notice areas of your lawn are bare or thinning, you can overseed to promote growth. Spread Bermuda grass seed in these affected areas during the Fall, getting ready for the active growth period in spring.
You can create temporary winter color by overseeding your Bermuda grass with Ryegrass seed. Lay this seed when temperatures have dropped below 65 degrees for several consecutive days.
Overseeding with Ryegrass allows for an attractive lawn in the winter and will die off when spring arrives, allowing your Bermuda grass to flourish. If you plan to be overseed for winter, avoid using any seed that will continue to grow in warmer temperatures.
Another thing to keep in mind when overseeding is when you apply weed killer to your lawn. Your weed killer should be applied 45-90 days before you reseed.
When Should I Plant Bermuda Grass?
Frost is your largest enemy when planting grass seed. Bermuda grass is best planted when all threat of frost has passed, typically in late Spring. Once temperatures have reached 80 degrees or above for numerous days, it is okay to lay your seed.
You can check your soil temperature using a soil thermometer to ensure your timing of planting is just right. Ideal soil temperatures for Bermuda grass are between 65 and 70 degrees.
Rake your soil first, then lay your seed. Next, cover the seed with a thin layer of soil, about 1/4 of an inch deep. You can rake again lightly to promote soil contact with your seeds.
After you lay Bermuda grass seed, you should water your lawn daily. Keep your soil moist but not soggy while your grass is becoming established.
It only takes 7-14 days to germinate Bermuda grass if the conditions are in its favor.
To Wrap Up
In general, Bermuda grass grows in the heat and enters dormancy when the cold weather arrives. We hope you found this article insightful for managing your lawn and you gathered some helpful tips and tricks for caring for your grass.
Are you looking for more tips when caring for your lawn? Look through our blog post, What's The Best Time To Aerate And Overseed A Lawn?