Bermuda Grass: Planting and Maintenance Guide

Jamie Tedder

Even an untrained eye can recognize bermudagrass. This widely used warm-season grass is a familiar sight in Southern regions, with its dense, carpet-like appearance and a color ranging from light to dark green.

This perennial grass is known for its exceptional heat and drought tolerance. It is also remarkably durable, withstanding heavy foot traffic and recovering from damage faster than other warm-season varieties. These qualities make it a reliable option for homeowners seeking a resilient lawn. Depending on your specific conditions, bermudagrass may be the obvious option for you, too.

Bermudagrass: An Overview

As a warm-season grass, bermudagrass thrives in warm climates, growing most actively from late spring to early fall. As soil temperatures drop in late fall and winter, it becomes dormant and may look brown, seemingly dead. In frost-free climates like Florida, bermuda lawns may not fully enter dormancy, although growth may significantly slow down with the lower temperatures.

Establishing a bermudagrass lawn from sod translates to an almost instant green cover that offers more benefits than traditional seeding methods. Natural grass significantly reduces the risks of soil erosion, pests, and diseases often associated with bare patches. bermudagrass spreads vigorously through stolons and rhizomes—runners above and below the soil—contributing to its quick recovery from wear. Additionally, its extensive deep root system supports its dense growth and resilience against environmental stresses, helping the grass access water and nutrients deeper into the soil. The grass features relatively wide blades with pointed tips and a fine to medium texture, making it equally attractive and functional.

Bermudagrass requires plenty of sun—at least 7 hours a day of direct sunlight—good drainage, and about 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week for optimal growth. Once established, bermudagrass is highly tolerant of heat, drought, traffic, and even saline soils, making it an excellent option for lawns in challenging environments.


Laying Bermudagrass Sod

While you can lay bermudagrass sod in Florida any time of the year, planting it during the warmer months aligns with its active growth season, ensuring successful and faster establishment. The warm temperatures and ample sunlight during this period support vigorous growth, helping the sod root quickly and thrive.

Before laying sod, it's essential to prepare the soil to facilitate better sod-to-soil contact. Start by clearing the area of any debris, weeds, or existing grass. Loosen the soil to about 6 inches deep and level the surface for even coverage.

Immediately after laying the sod, water your lawn thoroughly to keep the roots from drying out. Continue watering for the first 10-14 days, gradually tapering to the recommended 1-1.5 inches of water per week once it is established. Watering deeper but less often will train the roots to grow deeper into the soil, increasing your lawn's resilience.

Under favorable conditions, grass sod usually takes about two to three weeks to begin establishing a strong root system and can be fully established within six to eight weeks. During this time, regular watering, adequate sunlight, and proper mowing will ensure your grass develops into a lush, green carpet that can stand up to heat, drought, and heavy foot traffic. Read here for a comprehensive guide on how to lay sod.

Seasonal Bermudagrass Care

More common Bermuda grass varieties are more sensitive to cold temperatures than other warm-season grasses like Zoysia grass. However, improved bermuda cultivars have been cultivated to address these common concerns and maintain a healthy bermudagrass lawn year-round.

BIMINI® Bermudagrass, for example, has better cold tolerance. It maintains its dark green color in colder temperatures where other grass types usually enter a dormant state. This improvement makes it a more versatile option for lawns with less-than-ideal conditions for this grass type.

Spring to Summer

Lawns require different care depending on the season, and spring to early summer is the perfect opportunity to prepare bermudagrass lawns for the growing season.

  • Start by aerating your lawn to relieve compacted soil, improve drainage, and encourage root growth.
  • Fertilize your lawn with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to promote healthy green growth.
  • Apply pre-emergent herbicides to prevent spring weeds from growing, as these weeds can compete with your bermudagrass for water, sunlight, and nutrients.
  • Mow your lawn to remove dead grass and encourage spring growth. Frequent mowing is essential when bermudagrass is actively growing.
  • You may have to mow 1-2 times a week to maintain the recommended 1-2 inches height. To avoid scalping, do not remove more than one-third of the grass length in a single session.

Fall to Winter

Fall is the time to prepare your bermuda lawn for winter, when it may become dormant as the temperatures drop.

  • The cool air and warm soil in the fall make it an ideal time to aerate and dethatch, allowing your lawn to recover before winter sets in.
  • Fertilize your lawn in the fall to encourage denser root growth, which will help it endure the cold months.
  • Adjust your watering based on the weather, reducing the frequency as the temperatures drop, while focusing on deep watering to train the grass roots to grow deeper into the soil.
  • As growth slows, you may also not have to mow as often as you do in spring. Instead of following a strict schedule, it's better to mow according to your lawn's specific needs.
  • Continue with your weed control measures to keep your bermuda healthy and free from invasive weed competition.

Dormancy Care

When bermudagrass is dormant, its growth may decline sharply or stop fully. You don't have to fertilize or mow your lawn during this time because the grass is not actively growing and taking up nutrients.

While it's not necessary to water dormant grass regularly as you would during the growing season, occasional watering during extended dry periods can prevent root damage. Keep fallen leaves and debris off your lawn to prevent mold and disease.


Final Thoughts

With its exceptional heat tolerance and ability to recover quickly from wear, bermudagrass is an ideal variety for many homeowners and various lawn conditions.

By following proper planting techniques and seasonal maintenance practices—such as aerating, fertilizing, applying herbicides, and adjusting watering and mowing schedules—you can ensure your bermudagrass thrives year-round. These efforts ultimately lead to a healthy, dense lawn that improves your outdoor space and stands up to the challenges of changing weather conditions.

For high-quality bermudagrass sod, visit the Bethel Farms website today!