Bermuda Seed Heads

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by KrisD, Jun 14, 2001.

  1. KrisD

    KrisD LawnSite Member
    Posts: 14

    I've got a customer who is unhappy with our service. He says that 4 days after we leave his lawn looks overgrown. I have noticed the yard is covered with bermuda grass seed heads when we get there. He requested we mow it shorter, there is not much room to go but we will. He said he has not applied fertilizer since last fall and I suggested that we do that. I understand that seed production is a normal part in the grass plant's life. Are there any tricks to help suppress them. The only thing I have read on the subject is that increasing nitrogen might help.
  2. KirbysLawn

    KirbysLawn Millenium Member
    Posts: 3,486

    Mowing it shorter may help. How tall are you mowing it now? Bermuda looks best when cut with reel mowers, I had 3 lawns that were in an exclusive area that I went to bid on, all were bermuda on uneven lawns so I did not bid.

    Is this a bermuda only lawn or is it mixed with fescue also? That would cause a problem when mowing it shorter. Know your equipment and know it's limits, my mowers would have butchered that lawn :eek:, maybe if your mowers will mow 1.5" this week then go up to 2" the next week, it may look rough the first week. Next spring scalp the lawn and mow short!

  3. George777

    George777 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Alabama
    Posts: 305

    the lawns that are Bermuda in my area are showing seed heads in 3 days. We also have been getting 1" to 2" of growth a week. If I was to try to cut my customers turf shorter than 2 1/2" you would see skalp marks. I won't do it. The reason is not many people have there turf level. All the dips mean trouble and so I simply cut higher. I maintain my own Bermuda lawn at 2 1/2" to 3" and it looks awesome.

    Most people who cut Bermuda seem to scalp it every time and it looks burned. I want my customers lawns to be a lushish green.

    You might want to explain to your customer that this is the peak growth season for turf and that you might need to cut his turf on a 3-4 day schudeule.
  4. KirbysLawn

    KirbysLawn Millenium Member
    Posts: 3,486

    Most people don't mow it correctly and therefore it looks scapled. If it is scalped (on purpose) in the spring when it is getting started all the brown from the fall will be mowed off. After that everything that grows will be green, therefore no matter how short it is mowed the remaining grass will be green and no brown will be showing. It will also grow OUT instead of UP and the lawn will be fuller and healther!

    Bermuda is not a grass that is meant to be at 3 1/2", should be at 1 1/2 at the most, that's why the grass looks like it always needs mowing. I do not mow Bermuda lawns due to the fact that I simply do not have the equipment to do it right and the demand is not high enough to justify buying the correct mowers.

    If you are finding that most of your customers have this grass consider buying the correct mowers and doing it right, it could be a niche! :) Even rough lawns with bermuda look good if mowed right.

  5. powerreel

    powerreel Banned
    Posts: 481

    It has been awhile since I lived in the sunbelt, BUT for Bermuda you need one of these, your rotary can't go low enough without tearing @ the grass. Get this:


    Bermuda grass cranks up my allergies so I am glad to be away from it!
  6. KirbysLawn

    KirbysLawn Millenium Member
    Posts: 3,486

    Powerreel si 100% correct, that is one fine mower!

    If you feel lazy..

  7. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,183

    The only way to maintain Bermuda at 1.5" would be to (1) Have an extremely level lawn, fat chance and (2) mow it at least every 3 days. There is no way you could keep it that short unless you had the flat yard and put them on a 3 day schedule. I can go back after 6 days when the fertilizer has been put on it and would fry the crap out of it if I tried to keep it at the level it was then. Some of my yards are mowed with the deck on my 72 as high as it will go. The best you can do is "top it" if your on a weekly schedule so keep from geting into the brown stuff. Not too many customers around here gonna let me mow it every 3-4 days-----------and pay me for it! I'd say 60% of the lawns I have are Bermuda. I cut one today that looked great but I had to get a rake and collect the clippings I blew on the driveway. When the heat gets on this stuff and the rain hits it you just can't keep it looking like a golf course.
  8. scottt

    scottt LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 269

    95% of the lawns around my area are bermuda. I agree with George777 that if I cut below 2.5" it would look terrible. Not because it was scalped, but because in some spots I would actually be cutting into the dirt. Very few lawns in my area are flat. The lowest I have ever been able to cut is 2" and that is on a lawn that has just been sodded and I still have problems with scalping. And no one around here uses a reel mower. Do you suggest I try to sell topdressing?
  9. George777

    George777 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Alabama
    Posts: 305

    Homer, same thing here. People do not want to pay to have it cut every 3 days. tonight I had a customer tell me they now want to get on a weekly service instead of bi-weekly. a few of my bi-weekly's get to about 6" high. I got no choice but to bag it if I want it to look pretty good. you taught me to just take off the tops.

    powerreel, how does your machine work on lawns that have a bunch of dips? To me nothing is worse than seeing lawns with indintations from the blade. I mean you can see the whole circle from where the blade hit the ground. I have seen several around here.
  10. NateinAtl

    NateinAtl LawnSite Member
    from Atlanta
    Posts: 121

    Top dressing and reel mowing is a niche that you guys need to consider-very seriously. If I enjoyed mowing lawns, that is what I would do. But I don't. I do mow 2 days a week--all bermuda. All at 1.5 inches. And yes, we are seeing the seed heads here too. It must be the amount of rain we've had. If you are mowing sodded, hybrid bermuda you really should be mowing no higher than 1.5 inches. If you aren't doing it now, well it's too late this year. Try scalping next year, and you will be plesantly surprized. Topdressing/sanding is another service that will help the lawns and help your bottom line. If there aren't any companies offering topdressing in your area, I would highley recomend it.

    Powerreel is correct. The reel mowers are the way to go. Tru cut is what most guys around here use. I would guess that about 35 % of LCO's use reel mowers here. And you can charge almost twice as much as someone using a rotary mower.

    If these services aren't currently offered in your area,Next year scalp a lawn, top dress it , and maintain it with a reel mower. I bet you will get plenty of work from neighbors

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