Help with Bermuda Grass in Texas

DomesticMay 1, 2012

Hello, I purchased my first home here in Central Texas in November. When I bought it, the lawn was in sorry shape. The area went through a very bad drought last summer and most of the grass (St. Austine) was dead. When I first moved in, I aerated the ground and planted Bermuda seed. I also applied starter fertilizer, watered and watched my lawn grow! We had a very mild winter so the grass continued to grow all throughout winter. I was the only person in the neighborhood to have grass! My grass grew so fast that I had to cut it every 5 days or else the grass would be too long that it clogged my mower.

However, about a few weeks ago, I noticed that my lawn started to turn brown. I thought maybe because it was warmer now that i needed to water more. I increased my watering but that didn't seem to help. My grass looks like straw in some areas and is getting real thin looking.

Everybody else in my neighborhood has St. Austine grass and its green. I dont know if mine is dying because i planted grass at an odd time or if my Bermuda just can take this heat....it been in the 90's the past week or two. I also read that Bermuda grass can turn brown because of fungus. Is there a way I can test for this? I would appreciate any help. Thanks!

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

This doesn't sound like bermuda. Bermuda normally only germinates in the deep heat of summer, not November. It turns brown (dormant) in the winter and then really kicks in when it gets hot again. Bermuda rarely gets a fungus. Are you watering it every day? If so then it might get a fungus.

Ryegrass, on the other hand, germinates in the cool fall weather (November is fall in Central and South Texas). It grows fast and green all winter and then turns brown and dies in the late spring heat.

Do you still have the seed bag/box? I would check the Guaranteed Analysis to see what was in it. Also bermuda seed looks a lot like dust.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 8:22PM
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tiemco

So let me get this straight. You purchased your home in November 2011, and then planted seed that fall? It was green all winter, and didn't turn brown? If that is the case, then you didn't plant Bermuda, more likely annual rye. Bermuda will not germinate in November unless you are near the equator, or south of it. Bermuda will turn tan in late fall/winter as it goes dormant. It will then green up again when the hot weather returns. Bermuda can take the heat, in fact it prefers hot weather. If you did plant annual rye, it is normal for it to die out in hot weather. The best time to plant Bermuda seed is in late spring or early summer depending on your location and weather.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 8:26PM
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tiemco

I Guess Dchall and I were typing at the same time.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 8:28PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I'm glad we said the same thing

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 8:39PM
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Domestic

Well I guess you guys were right...I went back and looked at what I planted and it was a Rye/Bermuda blend. I'm guessing the rye is what grew over the winter.

So what do I do now? Plant more Bermuda Seed? Do I have to aerate it or can I just throw it down on the existing grass? Thanks guys!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 7:43PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

YES!

I love it when advice comes together.

Bermuda works best when the soil is really warm. Down here in George West it is probably warm enough already. Up in Austin, maybe not quite yet. I'd wait 3 more weeks to be sure. Every spring we get people who bought their bermuda seed in February (when Lowe's first stocks it) and try to seed. Then they write in here asking what went wrong. Go ahead and wait. When it comes in it comes in fast.

Generally you can sow seed in other grasses. Only the seed that touches the soil will take root, though. It is best if you can scalp away everything to get the seed onto the soil. Then you should roll the seed down to make sure it is in good contact with the soil.

You still have several weeks to figure out how to scalp it down. Look up the concept of a power rake.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 8:33PM
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Domestic

So Scalping is just mowing the lawn on the lowest setting and cleaning up all the clippings? After I do this I can then plant the Bermuda seed? I know the seed should be as close to the ground as possible. I'm just not sure if I need aerate or get a tiller.....Also, would I use a lawn starter fertilizer when I put the Bermuda seed down?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 6:34PM
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texas-weed(7A)

If you are sure you have Rye, buy you some 10-10-10, Granular Round Up Pro. and a good quality Bermuda seed. Do not buy your bermuda seed at a box store or garden center as it is all junk Arizona Common or Cheyenne.

Apply the 10-10-10 at half rate of 5 lbs/Kft2, water it in and wait a week to get the Rye grass growing really well. Then nuke it with RU wait 1 day and scalp mow, then wait another 5 days.

No go to the Box store and rent a vertical mower and water roller. Set the vertical mower to its shallowest setting and make several passes to loosen up the top 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil. Rake up all the debris and smooth the area with a push broom.

Apply the seed and the last half application of fertilizer. Roll it down and start watering daily to keep seed bed moist, not soggy.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 11:05PM
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Domestic

So Scalping is just mowing the lawn on the lowest setting and cleaning up all the clippings? After I do this I can then plant the Bermuda seed? I know the seed should be as close to the ground as possible. I'm just not sure if I need aerate or get a tiller.....Also, would I use a lawn starter fertilizer when I put the Bermuda seed down?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 10:42AM
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neilaz(9a)

Read again what TW said above. All the answers are there.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 10:48AM
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Domestic

sorry about that, not sure why that got posted again... Just curious but why do you apply fertilizer to the rye if you are just going to put Round up on it a week later?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 1:25PM
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grasshole

Healthy, growing grass takes up herbicide better.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 1:32PM
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rager_w

Around here it is next to impossible to find a verticle mower. You can of course find dethatchers with flail blades all day long. You might be able to find a slit seeder. Which as we all know is just a verticle mower with a seed hopper attached.

I actually found a "lawn groomer" on CL for $250. It's a Lesco unit with the delta blades/knives. I use it to open the canopy on my Bermuda.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2012 at 3:25PM
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david_tx(7a North Texas)

I have a Mantis tiller with a slit aerator attachment. It's not much of an aerator but I use it as a poor man's vertical mower.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 10:26AM
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