What happens to Bermuda Without Fertilizer

EmagSamuraiDecember 9, 2011

I'm looking for a good type of grass for my future lawn, and Bermuda has been recommended because it will establish quickly. However, I'm looking for low maintenance, and I've read that Bermuda requires a lot of fertilizer.

What happens if I don't fertilize it? I don't mind if it's not that deep, dark, golf course green. But I would prefer it not turn brown either.

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

If you want bermuda to become dense and deep green with no browning or even brown tips, then it requires monthly fertilizer with a heavy nitrogen component. Unfertilized bermuda looks like a poor pasture to me.

The most important success factor for a lawn is selecting the right species and variety adapted to your location. You cannot be successful growing bermuda (for example) in Maine and you cannot be successful growing Kentucky bluegrass in Palm Springs. In general there are grass types called southern and northern. Sometimes they are called warm season and cool season. We know what they are and can help you if we know where you live.
Where do you live?
What is the lawn going to be used for? (kids, dogs, parties, sports, etc.)
How often are you willing to water?
What is your soil like (sandy, clayey, etc.)?
How much area do you have for grass?

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 7:30PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I just saw your other post and see that you live in Montgomery, AL and have about an acre to seed. Watering will be an issue even with bermuda. Yes bermuda will survive a drought, but it will not look all that great until the rains come. Then, if there are any thin spots in the bermuda, you'll have faster sprouting weeds coming in. Water and fertilizer are kind of important to any type of lawn.

In my reply to your other post I mentioned my new house. What I am doing is not mowing the grass. I have St Aug that is knee high in some places. I have seen tall St Aug go without any maintenance (no water and no fertilizer) at all for years at a time. It was my neighbor next door so I know for a fact she never watered or fertilized. We used to laugh about it looking better than my lawn with organic fertilizer. Hers was longer, of course, but her color was darker green than mine. So I'm trying that experiment on my own. I don't have neighbors to complain so I can do what I want. Only problem I might have is snakes in the grass. We'll see how that goes. It might be a consideration for you if you don't have neighbors or relatives to complain.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 9:55PM
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ZoysiaSod(6a/6b St.Lou TranZone)

This is kind of funny, because my zoysia lawn hadn't seen fertilizer or sprinkler water in years, and looked great!

The only water it drank came from the clouds for years and years, until this summer.

My zoysia probably had never ever been fertilized, but was still a beautiful deep green--until this summer when I spot treated the lawn for weeds with a weedkiller that contained 2,4-D and Dicamba. Then my zoysia turned from a luscious deep green to light green, lime, and even brown in spots.

So for the first time ever, I'm going to have to fertilize it (organically, of course) this March 15 with Corn Gluten Meal and add compost, too. I've already added a little compost, but will add more when the weather warms again.

I had awesome zoysia until it came in contact with synthetic weed killers. I've learned my lesson. Now I simply pull out the weeds and use *Organic* weedkillers like white distilled vinegar and boiling water. These are your 4 best stand-bys for post-emergent weed control:

1. Pull out the weeds by hand

2. White distilled vinegar

3. Boiling water

4. Heat up the weeds with the sun by laying a plastic sheet over them (it's called "solarizing")

Don't use that synthetic junk on your lovely soil and grass :-)

I read that some places in Canada have banned synthetic weed killers. Our Canadian friends have always been smart.

Pick up Paul Tukey's "Organic Lawn Care Manual" at Amazon.com . It helped me a lot. My zoysia's a big fan of Mr. Tukey and of Mr. Hall from San Antonio. You'll learns lots from both of them.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 7:12AM
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The answer depends on what type of Bermuda grass seed you use. I am aware of your other post and I will stick to my guns for you Bermuda is your only real choice, and the right choice for you is a low grade Bermuda used as pasture and erosion control grass like Sahara, Mowhawk, or Arizona common. Even better yet just plain ole Pennington Premium Bermuda Grass that cost a mere $4.50/lb is a blend of Mohawk and Sultan. Medium and high quality seed cost are $20 to $50/lb and require lots of TLC. The pasture and low input types only require a starter fertilizer when planted and only once a year application.


    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 3:09PM
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I appreciate the feedback. I'm learning more about this everyday, and I'm glad I started looking into this 5 months early. I called a local nursery and all I got from them was, "Yeah, we'll sell you some grass seed. Call back in April." I suspected it wasn't that simple!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 5:59PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

...and I'm glad I started looking into this 5 months early.

We appreciate it too. Far too often someone will write in after they have made a huge mistake (e.g. rototilled the ground) and then want to know what kind of seed to get.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2011 at 2:22PM
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