Bermuda is quite the spreader, sending out above ground runners and underground roots. It’s also a tough guy, growing in concrete cracks and otherwise apparently inhabitable locations. While it’s great for some purposes, it can also be quite the nuisance in a garden.
UC Verde lawn owner and certified desert landscaper (and did I mention Lazy Gardens blog writer) gave us some advice to pass on to other UC Verde wanna-be’s before installing their lawns:
“I strongly recommend that anyone spend the first few warm months killing the Bermuda. If I had one do-over for this lawn, it would be the Bermuda killing… ”
Read on to find the most common mistakes people make when trying to kill Bermuda and how to go about eradicating this garden foe!
The most common Bermuda mistakes:
- Killing Bermuda grass is not difficult, but it’s not going to happen overnight.
- No matter what the herbicide package says, it will take at least a month and several applications of herbicide to kill 90 to 95% of the Bermuda grass, then several months of spot application on surviving sprigs to get the remainder.
- The most frequent mistake people make when they try to kill Bermuda grass is to yank out, mow down, or clip off as much visible growth as possible, then use an herbicide “to finish the job”. Herbicides must be absorbed by the leaves to be effective. If you remove most of the leaves before you apply the herbicide, very little of the herbicide will be absorbed. The grass will regrow from the roots.
- The second most common mistake is to try to kill the Bermuda grass by withholding water, then resorting to herbicides when the grass refuses to die. This is a native of the African savannas, where 6 months without rain is normal. Bermuda can survive herbicides better when it is water-deprived because it absorbs less herbicide when it is dormant from drought.
- A third mistake is trying to kill Bermuda grass during cool weather. The days and nights must be warm enough that the Bermuda grass is actively growing. Let it “green up”, and don’t start killing the lawn unless you have at least 6 weeks of warm weather left.
How to kill Bermuda (when the grass is green and actively growing, follow these steps):
- Water the Bermuda grass thoroughly to encourage it to grow. Herbicides work best when the plants are actively growing.
- Wait a week, water the Bermuda grass in the morning.
- The following morning, thoroughly spray the Bermuda grass with an herbicide that contains glyphosate. Make sure you follow the package directions for diluting the herbicide. Spray the grass thoroughly, making sure you cover all the leaves.
- Wait at least three days to give the herbicide time to be absorbed and spread through the plant tissues.
- Now you can yank, clip and mow, because the herbicide has spread into the roots.
- Keep watering deeply every few days, as if you were trying to grow the best lawn on the block.
- Give the survivors a week or so to grow some leaves, then spray them with the herbicide again.
- Repeat the cycle of water, herbicide, water, herbicide until the sprouts stop appearing.
- Patrol the area for the next two or three growing seasons and apply herbicide to any new sprouts. The roots of Bermuda grass can be as deep as six feet, and they persist for several years.
Be sure to read her full suggestions here, complete with precautions you should take with any herbicides you are using.
And in case you’re not sure how to spot the bermuda in your UC Verde lawn here are some pics from Andy in San Pedro, California who installed his lawn in 2009 and is now having a Bermuda invasion: