Bermuda Bad

The Zen Master

LawnSite Member
I heard that Bermuda grass grows so fast it will choke weeds out, and invade areas folks may not want it to - That is precisely what I wanted when I started this project.

I live near Austin, TX and I have a VERY small (500-sq. ft.) Bermuda lawn I started 3-years ago. It's never filled in the way I hoped and I have an Indian grass & crabgrass problem in half the lawn.

I have been mowing it at 2" after it grew to 3" (it's HOT here) and after I mowed it there seemed to be more dirt than grass - and I can only guess that is what let all the Indian grass and crabgrass seeds to germinate this year? Then in frustration I let it grow to 4-1/2" and cut it to 3" - it looks the same just taller.

I mowed a test strip at 1-1/4" and it turned brown and seems to be coming back VERY slow. I'm going to keep cutting it at 1-1/4 (just the strip) to see what happens.

Short of someone living close by that knows Bermuda grass, how the heck can I get this to look like a golf course? Should I start cutting it lower now, or wait? I have been using organic fertilizer (Medina Growin Green) and cornmeal and molasses per recommendation of a good friend that has had better luck than me. I used BT when the army worms showed up.

I wanted to spray broadleaf killer then wait and "push" the Bermuda (internet video lingo) with a fertilizer that will work best, and fastest, but I do not know what products to use that can be purchased in small quantities for my 500-sq. ft. lawn.

If anyone can help with strategy/product advice, I will be eternally grateful.
 

Crazy 4 grass

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Minnesota
I heard that Bermuda grass grows so fast it will choke weeds out, and invade areas folks may not want it to - That is precisely what I wanted when I started this project.

I live near Austin, TX and I have a VERY small (500-sq. ft.) Bermuda lawn I started 3-years ago. It's never filled in the way I hoped and I have an Indian grass & crabgrass problem in half the lawn.

I have been mowing it at 2" after it grew to 3" (it's HOT here) and after I mowed it there seemed to be more dirt than grass - and I can only guess that is what let all the Indian grass and crabgrass seeds to germinate this year? Then in frustration I let it grow to 4-1/2" and cut it to 3" - it looks the same just taller.

I mowed a test strip at 1-1/4" and it turned brown and seems to be coming back VERY slow. I'm going to keep cutting it at 1-1/4 (just the strip) to see what happens.

Short of someone living close by that knows Bermuda grass, how the heck can I get this to look like a golf course? Should I start cutting it lower now, or wait? I have been using organic fertilizer (Medina Growin Green) and cornmeal and molasses per recommendation of a good friend that has had better luck than me. I used BT when the army worms showed up.

I wanted to spray broadleaf killer then wait and "push" the Bermuda (internet video lingo) with a fertilizer that will work best, and fastest, but I do not know what products to use that can be purchased in small quantities for my 500-sq. ft. lawn.

If anyone can help with strategy/product advice, I will be eternally grateful.
Eternally? Thats a long time :nod:

Welcome to lawnsite :waving:
 

takervader

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Alabama
Golf course -
1) spoon feed fertilizer, as in about 0.5lb/1000sqft per month.

2) Cut with a reel down below 1", 2-3x a week in summer heat.

Bermuda grows like wildfire when it has water, heat and some Nitrogen. But it doesn't choke out weeds itself when its cut tall, it can't. Zoysia does better at choking them out, as would StAg, when cut taller, because they are so thickly growing. With Bermuda its more of your cultural practices, cutting low and often.

3) Preemergent 3x a year. Something like Prodiamine in spring, maybe one more round in late May of Dimension/Specticle, then Specticle in fall. You shouldnt have any crabgrass if you're putting down enough pre.

You should never cut bermuda above 2-2.25", above that, it actually thins out. Its counter intuitive to many people. When you cut it shorter, it fills itself in better. However, rotary mowers really don't do a great job below about 1.5-1.75". Reels make it look like a golf course. You can make it look good with a rotary, just saying it won't be Augusta National.

The only time I let bermuda get over 2" is just before it goes to sleep in October, usually its not growing much at all by then, and i let it be until its brown.

If you cut so hard it leaves brown strips, you need to keep cutting it that short, more often. Take it down to one level, say 1", fertilize, water it, then set the mower to 1.5" and continue there. But cut it and cut it and cut it. If youre not willing to cut it as often as it needs, and low, don't expect it to look great.

If you were doing those things before and its not, then I'd suggest soil testing and corrective measures based on those results. It may have a P or K deficiency and you don't know, soil pH too basic (it prefers 6-6.5), or something else. You're best off buying products for a 5000sqft lawn (like 10-20lb bags) and figuring out exactly what rates. You can use any ratio fert, but in general a 4-1-2 is best (in lieu of soil test results).
 
OP
The Zen Master

The Zen Master

LawnSite Member
@takervader - Thank you, sir. I've been wanting a reel mower but have no idea what to buy. Recall that my lawn is only 500-square feet so an expensive golf-course mower is not an option, though if I could afford one I would get one, for that Agusta look! :D

I will be sure to put Spectracide down this fall and then continue with your preemergent recommendations going forward. I am old and in bad shape but I pulled as much crabgrass as I could this year - there is still some in there.

I am still uncertain - should I cut it low now and live with an ugly lawn a while - or work my way down?

I've looked at The Anderson's 16-4-8 fertilzer - is it too late for that this year?
 

takervader

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Alabama
Not Spectracide, Specticle, which is usually sprayed out, so you'll need a hand/backpack pump sprayer. It is expensive, but it is the best, and your lawn so tiny one bottle may last you several years.

You can put down Dimension granular right now to prevent new crab coming up. One 35lb bag would probably last you quite a while. Get them both at DoMyOwn.com

If your grass is in its active growing season, and we're not about to go to dormancy, you can put out fert at any time, its not too late at all. Start your monthly spoon feeding now, wait 4 weeks and hit it again.

I start when its 50% green in April. Sept 1 is my own last fert date, but at a low spoon-fed rate, you can do a little by Oct 1 too. Its just not going to grow much as the days get shorter. "Too late" is only applicable when its going to sleep in fall, you don't want to give it a lot of N at that time, its wasted money. Some people are afraid of fert in worst summer heat, but if you're watering it, then bermuda can take it at any time. If youre waiting on rain and you get a drought, then it can burn it up, or if you put out way too much. Go light with the amount and keep pushing it.

16-4-8 is just fine. Andersons is good stuff, pricey but good. I'd spend it if my own lawn was that small.

McLanes is the reel model I'd recommend for ease of use at home, and you can backlap yourself. If I can't backlap myself I wouldn't want a reel at home.

You should do what i call a "height reset" or "hard cut", take it down to the lowest mower setting, cut once, fert, water, then raise the blade for the next cut 2-3 days later. You may not cut anything off, but continue to cut every 2-3 days at the same height. It'll start filling itself and greening up. Same practice if you were to Reel mow it, 2-3 days in summer heat while its going nuts.
 
OP
The Zen Master

The Zen Master

LawnSite Member
Roger that Specticle - I thought it was a typo! I wish I could justify and afford a McLanes reel mower but that will have to wait.

Thanks for all your advice, sir - and thanks for the DoMyOwn link.
 

takervader

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Alabama
Bout the only thing I really complain about with the TruCut is how you have to use your thumb to hold a button/lever for cutting blade engagement, but with a tiny lawn its not a real problem. You can backlap it at home.
 

ed2hess

LawnSite Fanatic
I live in north Austin and tend a lot of Bermuda properties. Rule one never try going from high to low mow after spring. There are grassy weeds and broad leaf and nut grass. Weed be gone gets broadleaf. Send private note about grassy weeds. Post pictures. Too hot to attack stuff now.
 
OP
The Zen Master

The Zen Master

LawnSite Member
I live in north Austin and tend a lot of Bermuda properties. Rule one never try going from high to low mow after spring. There are grassy weeds and broad leaf and nut grass. Weed be gone gets broadleaf. Send private note about grassy weeds. Post pictures. Too hot to attack stuff now.

So, continue mowing at its current 2-1/2"? Until when?

All the weed/crabgrass killers I have looked at say do not apply if temp exceeds 85 so that is out for a while.

Right now I am inclined to just live with it - and spread some weed killer in the fall - if you can call it a fall in Texas...

It is too hot to do anything and I'm thinking start fresh in the spring.
 
Last edited:

Top Forums



Top