Bermuda growing season

rdaystromNovember 21, 2008

If you have a Bermuda lawn like me you probably realize that many so called lawn experts look down on us like we have some alien weed for a lawn. They continually try to bash Bermuda by pointing out it's flaws. (I feel compelled to defend what I believe to be one of the best available lawns grasses.) One of their favorite statements tries to show that Bermuda has a really short growing season. Over my 45 years experience with grasses in the Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas areas I can to dispute this myth. I have a 3 acre lawn planted with a combination of Sahara, Princess 77 as well as some other previously existing common types. For several years now I have been keeping track of the growing season. It has been consistently from mid march to the last week in November. (Thanksgiving week.)The myth of a short growing season was probably perpetuated by observing Bermuda lawns that were under fertilized and under watered. Bermuda will go dormant if it runs out of nitrogen and or water. Bermuda lawns will also get a late start in the spring if it's in competition with massive amounts of spring weeds and grasses. If a lawn it exclusively Bermuda, is watered, fertilized, and otherwise maintained correctly it will have a long growing season. Much longer than others would have you believe.

I just mowed yesterday (late November) My lawn has gone through a dozen frosts at least. It is finally beginning to show dormancy now. Some areas are 75% dormant, while others are 50% with a few areas still going strong and solid green. I expect overall 90% dormancy by the week following Thanksgiving.

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davidandkasie(Z8 MS)

keep in mind also that many of the naysayers are in areas that bermuda does not do well and they use cool season grasses. i agree with you, my growing season for my 4 acres is early march to late november. had a freeze in October and all of it died off this year, then a late warming trend and it greened back up. i though i was gonna have to cut it again, btu another cold snap did it in again.

oh, and i do NOTHING but cut my bermuda and 1-2x a year spray the whole thing with RU to kill the weeds. even in 100+ temps for 15 days straight with no water my lawn never browned.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 11:41AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I agree with both y'all. There is so much misinformation about that plant it kills me. Look at any grass chart and you'll see that bermuda needs less water than any of the other common grasses. Well...NOT I YOU WANT IT TO LOOK GOOD! That only applies if you just want it to be dormant all year long.

A couple years ago I tried an experiment. I had noticed several of the St Aug lawns in my neighborhood were vivid green all year long. I talked to the owners and they really didn't know what they were doing different. Then I noticed that their automatic sprinklers were on the summer schedule all year long. I tried deep watering every 2 weeks on my lawn and what do you know! My lawn was vivid green all through the winter along with theirs.

I don't feel the need to have to mow my lawn. It is still green, about 4 inches high, and it hasn't been mowed in several months. Unfortunately I'm not home to dote on it except every other weekend so that probably has something to do with it. I fertilized with ordinary corn meal last weekend so we'll see what happens.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 1:31PM
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wrager(Z5 OH)

I love my Bermuda! It gives me a reason to excercise all through the summer. Mine has justt this week gone into dormancy. I think the common types might stay green longer than hybrids like 419. My new (august) seashore pasplum is still green, however.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 3:05PM
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Ray while you have some points, there is some miss-leading info or maybe more accurate damaging info. OF course water and fertilizer have something to do with dormancy period, but the danger of forcing Bermuda with late season fertilizer can do a lot of damage by making the grass grow when it should be going to sleep.

Use to be the common Bermuda types were best for cold tolerance like Midlawn Riviera, and Yukon, but that is not always the case now as the hybrids rank much higher like Tifway-I (aka 419) Tifway-II (much improved cold tolerance then Tifway-I), and the king of cold is Tifsport.

I do fully agree with you winter annual weeds will delay spring green up, and especially the folks who overseed there Bermuda with Rye or Fescue will never have a healthy Bermuda unless they live in places like Phoenix where the growing season is so long the Bermuda has plenty of time to recover.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 3:55PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

I guarantee you that Floratam st augustine will outperform bermuda without any input from us.... That means no watering. No fertilizing. Nothing. Floratam will win out...

Have a nice day! :)

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 5:03PM
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lou_midlothian_tx, I recognize that you are one of the Bermuda bashers by the tone and content of your post. That's ok. To each his own. In the real world it is expensive to consider using Flortam for 3 or 4 acres. I would also disagree that it requires no fertilizer or water. In this area all you would have is dust if you provided no water and at least some fertilizer. My soil is ultra poor quality. It is nothing short of a miracle that even the Bermuda does as well as it does.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 9:53AM
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In a drought situation, Bermuda goes dormant while St. Augustine goes dead.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 10:26AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

All wet and rdaystrom...

You're completely wrong. Do some research on Floratam st augustine. There's a study that it had almost 90% recovery rate after 2 months of no rainfall. Of course, bermuda had 99% recovery but what stands out is that zoysia is in the 60,70% recovery range so that tells you how much drought tolerance Floratam has (other varieties are way back though). Also there is another study where they absolutely do nothing. no fertilizer. No extra water. Floratam came out looking best compared to bermuda, etc. Bermuda needs fertilizer to stay dense. Floratam doesn't really need to due to coarse blade so that's why it looks better than bermuda when it comes to doing nothing. Floratam

Bermuda is there somewhere but it is barely noticable due to the nature of thin blades and not very dense without fertilizer.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 10:36AM
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I'll still take Bermuda over any St.A.
Sorry.....but my own personal opinion is that St.A, any St.A, is ass ugly.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 11:18AM
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Have you ever noticed a nice St. Augustine yard that has a broken irrigation system or one that doesn't cover properly? What fills in the areas that the St. Augustine dies? Bermuda.
And how do you eradicate the bermuda from the St. Augustine? Round up.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 9:02AM
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What does SA have to do with this topic?

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 6:59PM
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What exactly is the point of this thread anyways? To me, it seems like bait for those who dislike Bermuda. To each his own; it's nothing more than personal preference.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 9:00PM
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lou midlothian tx brought up the Flortam St Augustine subject right out of the blue. I don't know why. As far as this topic in general is concerned....I brought it up to refute the many statements made continuously all year long about how Bermuda has such a short growing season. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 9:51PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Uh, actually I mentioned it out of the blue. Didn't mean to drift off topic with my remarks, though.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 10:11PM
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My bermuda is still green, but after 2 pretty good freezes last week, it's showing signs of dormancy. It's probably the Yukon in this blend.

Pretty good, for a warm season grass

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 10:28PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

I'm just saying that Floratam has almost as good drought tolerance as bermuda but does better overall than bermuda when it comes to doing absolutely nothing. No watering. No fertilizing. I think some of you are clueless about Floratam. You say st augustine grass not doing well, blah, blah but you don't say which one exactly because it does make a huge difference. Floratam kicks zoysia's butt when it comes to drought tolerant. I'm not saying st augustine in general but specifically Floratam.

Frankly, I don't see the point in having 3 acres of bermuda anyway. I'm just a gardener who likes to have trees, shrubs, roses, etc without worrying about bermuda invading them...

Chill out... The forum is all about learning something new and obviously you don't want to... Fine...

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 10:58PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

I forgot to mention that bermuda over here has mostly gone dormant. St augustine hasn't yet. My biggest surprise is that floratam is the last one to go dormant due to its reputation for its poor cold tolerance so go figure.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 11:01PM
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Lou, The topic of discussion here is Bermuda. I'm happy that your grass and others are doing so well. I was just pointing out the fact that Bermuda doesn't have as short a growing season as many would like to imply. I for one am a fan of any yard that is taken care of nicely be it large or small, Bermuda, or St Augustine, Zoysia, Flortam, or whatever. Cost of establishing a large yard with Bermuda is much lower if you use seed like I did as opposed to sprigging or sod. The labor involved is much less and repairs are simple.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 6:46PM
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I think Bermuda has a reputation for a short growing season because it is green from mid March to late November. The people who consider that a short growing season probably come from areas where cool season grasses dominate. I grew up in Illinois and if we didn't water the lawn, we'd see a few weeks of dormant grass in the summer.

Here in Utah, most lawns would die without some irrigation. Native grasses will live with no irrigation, but will mostly go dormant in the summer. Warm season grasses would probably stay green in the summer, but would have a short green season generally (mid May to October or so).

With irrigation, cool season grasses are green year round (albeit snow covered in the winter). Without irrigation, the native grasses are dormant for about a month (traditional cool season turf grasses are probably dead).

So maybe the people who are knocking Bermuda have unrealistic expectations for a green season if they came from a northern climate.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 1:04AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

In my neighborhood I see fully dormant lawns and green growing lawns side by side. It's just a matter of watering.

One neighbor decided this year to water his lawn. I'm not sure how it survived all this time going dead in the summer, but it remains fully St Augustine. So he watered this year and it looked nice. Now he's stopped and is back to totally dormant. The lady across the street from him has cut her watering time back and nearly lost her lawn this dry year. But it made it and looks very green right now. Apparently she still waters weekly but not for long enough.

My neighbor next door started watering all the time about 3 weeks ago. I didn't know what he was doing since he never took particular care of the lawn before. This past weekend I noticed rye grass coming up, so that explains the watering. What he's going to find is that if he waters the rye all winter, his St Aug will remain green. If the St Aug remains green, then the rye will turn out to be a waste of money.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 2:27AM
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pkapeckopickldpepprz(z9 a/b FL)

Curious who has any experience with Celebration Bermuda grass? I have a yard that is mostly Bermuda (not sure what type, maybe native?) and weeds. Don't irrigate and rarely fertilize. I live in Florida so it is a sandy alkaline soil. How many years will it take by using plugs to have the grass fill in if I lay it out in a checkerboard pattern among the Bermuda already in place?

    Bookmark   December 29, 2008 at 6:24PM
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I LOVE BERMUDA GRASS! I know that people who plant flower beds hate it, but it is one of the prettiest grasses. if it weren't a tough, beautiful turf grass, it would not be used by golf courses and NFL football fields. I am currently trying to get my entire 1 acre all Bermuda. I have small patches, but mostly Fescue, which is where all the weeds pop up, not in the Bermuda. I plan on planting rye in the winter for color.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2010 at 11:40PM
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