How long does it take to "train" bermuda to grow horizontal

pbguy420July 28, 2014

So I've seen a lot of folks on here talking about "training" bermuda to grow horizontally to help thicken it up and get rid of the brown stalks you see when mowed. My new bermuda was seeded in June 1st and is doing very well. It did however get too high while I was out of town at the end of June... So once I cut it, it was mostly brown stalks.... I've been cutting it every 2-3 days since trying to help it fill in, I'm cutting at the lowest setting on my rotary, which is probably an inch or so... Some spots that didn't establish as quickly are nice and green after each mowing but many areas I'm cutting nearly all the green off... It's not unhealthy, that's for sure- it grows new green in 2 days, and if left unkept could probably grow 3 inch a week.

Should I just raise the mowing height and get a better start with my first mowing next year or keep at it to get it to fill in. Been doing this 3-4 weeks and haven't noticed much different

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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

That's why I have to mow golf course every single day with all types of mowers...

I personally think we're all better off with coarse blade zoysia like Palisades or maybe st augustine 'floratam'. Much more forgiving when it comes to lazy mowing schedule.

FYI - I mow my bermuda lawn at home at 2" every 5 days. I don't care much for bermuda though. Just plugged in zoysia grass that I took from golf course. Lol. Looks much better over there at the course where it is growing.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 6:38PM
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pbguy420

I don't mind the mowing schedule, I just want a low cut , dense lawn ... I went with bermuda because my lawn sees heavy traffic with two dingo/kelpie mix that only understand one speed- sprint. I needed a fast recovering grass and wanted a soft one- and I'm pretty happy. With the sandy soil and centipedes slow recovery my original centipede lawn was all messed up and bumpy from them playing all day...

Just curious about whether it will start "learn" to grow horizontal from those runners this season if I keep it up mowing every 2 days... Will it eventually not have a bunch of brown spots from the stalks... Or should I just raise the mowing height for the remainder of the season and scalp at the beginning of the next grow season ?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 12:16AM
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iriasj2009

Ideally, at the beginning of each season, you want to scalp your bermuda below your desired cutting height. For example, scalp to 1/2" it you you want to mow at 3/4". For now raise your cutting height up a notch.
Next season, for your first mow, cut below your desired height so you can maintain it at your desired height without scalping. In your case, if you want to mow at your lowest setting of your rotary mower, i would try to rent a powered/manual reel mower that cuts below an inch (1/2" to 3/4") for your first mow. i hope you have full sun (8 plus hrs)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 1:55PM
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pbguy420

Ok that makes sense, I'll bump up a notch for the remainder of the season and follow that plan then... With my bermuda being common bermuda is that. 1/2" scalping going to harm it much ?

The only place I don't have full sun is under a tree in the back yard, I recently overseeded the back with bermuda and if that one small spot doesn't take well I'll probably throw some st Augustine seed down in just that spot

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 2:57PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

I think it might have to do with "common" bermuda that you have vs 419 cultivar that is commonly used as sod for houses and courses. 419 is breed to be mowed at low cutting height, I think and stay green compared to common types.

Here is a link that might be useful: bermuda grass

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 4:50PM
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iriasj2009

Ok, good to know you have a common variety. Can you tell me what variety you planted? With "common bermuda" even 1/2" is pushing it, but it won't kill it. Here is a picture where i mowed common bermuda to 3/4" just 2 weeks after being laid (sod, the guy who sold it to me told me it was celebration, but it wasn't), and it came back fully within 6 weeks. Only reason it took it 6 weeks is because that area only receives 5-6 hours of direct sunlight.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 12:34AM
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iriasj2009

That being said, i wanted to take this opportunity to elaborate a bit more on "common bermudas".
Common to me is just a term that indicates a bermuda that can be established by seed. There are however, improved common varieties that will tolerate mowing down to 1/2". some include Princes, Yukon, riviera, sahara, mohawk and there are others.

Below i wanted to show you 4 different types of bermudas, from thinest stem to thickest stem.

1. Tiff 419 (Hybrid bermuda)
2. Yukon (improved common)
3. what might be Celebration
4. "Common bermuda" aka arizona common.

Notice the thickness of each. The reason I'm showing you this is to help those out there understand why you typically mow common bermuda at taller heights. I never realized there was a big difference between bermudas until I had my own bermuda lawn.

That previous picture i posted is made up of bermuda 3 and 4. I mow it at 1" with a reel mower 2-3 times a week. I have mowed it with a rotary mower as well and it still looks nice but not as clean cut as my reel. With the rotary mower it does tend to suck up the grass giving it a choppy look when i mow. Have in mind the more sun your yard gets, the denser it will be, that being said, it can scalp easier with a rotary when it is denser.

SO.. In your case, i would mow at 1.25" or even 1.5" until you decide to go for a reel mower. Remember, if you do have a improved variety, you can probably get away with the lowest setting on your rotary mower once you have given it a scalp (below desired height) at the beginning of the season.

I mostly speak from experience.....

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 1:07AM
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iriasj2009

Almost forgot, lou, you forgot to mention to pbguy that there is no seed available for st augustine.

You need at least 5 hrs of sunlight or your bermuda will be very thin. It will spread MUCH slower too since you seeded. With 5 hours, you can make it look ok tho.

I will be taking pictures of that section on my yard with common bermuda and will be posting them here, so you can see how common bermuda looks under 5-6 hours of direct sunlight.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 1:18AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Bermuda is pretty thin where it receives the least amount of sun at my house. The only way to fix that is to plant more shade tolerant grass like zoysia palisades or even zorro would blend in better with bermuda. It will take years for zoysia grass to fill in though. I just took some from the golf course and plugged them in the shadiest area and see how it turns out.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 6:34AM
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bama66

I seeded my bermuda in early May and my bermuda has pretty much fully spread now. I was doubting it until about the middle of June, then it took off. I started off with 100 lbs of ammonium nitrate in June and now every two weeks (before a good rain) I apply 50 lbs.. It's working good for me, and I'm mowing twice a week. It is producing runners in the bare spots too. I planted sahara and Mohawk.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 7:19AM
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iriasj2009

Mowed at 1". Currently at 1.5".

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 10:29AM
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iriasj2009

Close up

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 10:32AM
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pbguy420

Thank for the help, and damn that's a purty lawn

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 11:33PM
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pbguy420

Off topic question but do you have any kind of barrier between your mulch and the grass or do you just edge there? It's a very clean transition

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 11:35PM
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iriasj2009

Thanks! I added some borders that give it a clean edge look.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 12:02AM
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