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bermuda is declining ???

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by bluemoon, May 27, 2004.

  1. bluemoon

    bluemoon LawnSite Member
    from Kansas
    Messages: 114

    My bermuda is declining. Need advice. I have had this yard for 5 seasons. When I got this yard it was in good shape, the previous owner was using 5 step Scotts and mowing about 3.5 inches. I know it shouldn't look good but it did. In fact in this town there are many folks whom mow their bermuda at 3inches or better. I even mow for a guy who has bermuda and I mow with my Walker 48" GHS deck and the highest setting on my Walker is 4" and he complains I mowing too low???
    Anyways I take over and start mowing at 2" and I switch to organic (Bradfield) alfalfa pellets. I put on approx. 2lbs per K twice a season, usually coincided with aeration. I am also mulching, truly mulching.
    This yard had never been aerated and the first summer it never looked better. It truly looked like a fine manicured fairway. The second season was even better. The third season, I cut back the H2O, purposely to stress it a little. My thinking was after reading many articles was I was over watering. So I thought I would give it a try. Also this third season I quit mulching and bag with my Walker for time reasons. The 3rd season I didn't think it looked as good. The 4th last year really took a downturn. I know one thing I did was I scalped my yard in Feb. which was way too early and we got a bunch of cold weather and even a 7" inch snow. I felt last spring it was really slow coming out of dormancy and frankly never recovered.
    This year is better, just not fast enough for me. We have had alot of Spring dead spot around here. Yes I said that , directly from K-State Extension office.
    I talked with a golf super 2yrs ago, he told me bermuda is nitrogen hungry, and I could hardly give it enough. He said on his golf course, about the middle of spring they would give it a big dose of slow release nitrogen and that would last most of the summer.
    This grass seems to like 80 to 90 degree weather, anything else and it doesn't want to grow.
    Well guys any advice would really appreciate.
    Thanks bluemoon.
    P. s. I live in south central Kansas as far as Zones come into play.
  2. JWTurfguy

    JWTurfguy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    Bermuda grass is a warm season grass, so yes, you're right--it does favor 80-90 degree weather. I can guarantee you that the snow and cold temps gave it a beating. And yes, the golf super was right. Bermuda is nitrogen hungry. In all honesty, even though we all like the way it looks, here in the US, Bermuda grass is basically a weed under cultivation. If you want to keep it, pray for warm weather and give it a lot more nitrogen. You may find that you'll need to switch over from organic to a synthetic high-N slow-release fert. However, if you choose to remain organic, just step it up your feedings. 2 applications won't cut it with Bermuda.

    Best of luck!


    PS--you probably already know this, but just in case....bermuda is designed to go dormant once temps decline. you can plan on this happening fairly early in the fall, depending on temps. so don't be suprised if you find your grass is going yellow/tan when your neighbor's grass is green. it does that so that the cold weather doesn't kill it. so don't try so hard to break it out of dormancy. if you want to maintain the green look later in the season, try overseeding an annual rye into the lawn. when the summer heat kicks in and the bermuda is at its peak, the annual rye will die out. the golf courses do it every year.
  3. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    I think the bagging instead of mulching is where you lost that extra bit of nitrogen. I would also recommend a high potassium fert in the late summer early fall it will help the turf hold color longer in the fall and green up sooner in the spring. With the watering I would go longer between water days but still try and get an inch or so of water down. Sometimes that means having 2,3 or even 4 start times fairly close together like 4, 5 and 6 am if you have a heavy clay soil to prevent runoff. Bermuda roots will go deep if the water is down there. I can usually go 4-5 days between watering here in Phx, in summer on accounts I have had for a few years. It takes some time to get the roots down that far but it can be done. I also use fertilizer injectors and biological/bridge products that I am sure help a lot. It will take as much water as you give it and just grow faster. Cut the water to slow the growth and reduce the weeds.

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