Anyone who has Bermuda grass in their lawn knows what it looks like when it goes dormant. The name suggests a warm, inviting, tropical climate, which is exactly where it’s known to thrive. But in the colder months and seasons, first-timers may panic when they start to notice all their grass appearing, well, dead.
After all, it certainly looks dead in the winter, turning the kind of brown most gardeners fear. But after the environment starts to turn, so does the grass into a luscious, rich green. That’s then the trade-off of the species that a lot of homeowners have accepted; while it doesn’t look very attractive in the Winter, it’s worth the payoff in Spring.
But treating dormant Bermuda grass can be tricky. Just telling what plants are weeds mixed in with brown grass is sometimes difficult. But there are two effective ways of dealing with weeds in dormant Bermuda grass: as the seeds germinate and after. Both pre and post-emergents are necessary.
Dealing With Weeds in Dormant Bermuda
Now that you know your grass is alive, it’s time to confront the weeds that are going to grow. We mentioned the use of pre and post-emergents. The former of which should be applied before the weeds have the opportunity to germinate and the latter is used for weeds that have already started to grow.
When To Apply Pre-Emergents
Usually, your lush Bermuda should be weed-free with only two applications of pre-emergent spray in the late winter and early fall, followed by on-the-spot treatments of post-emergents when you see any weeds that managed to grow.
The late winter application should take place after the soil temperature has remained around 50 degrees Fahrenheit consistently for several nights. This usually occurs in February, or at the latest early March. The product you’re using should be approved specifically for Bermuda.
Pre-emergents for Bermuda do not contain fertilizer. Fertilizing Bermuda in late winter may cause a break in the dormancy. Since Bermuda goes dormant as a self-protective measure against cold, it could be damaged by the freezing temperatures.
In the spring and summer, pre-emergents can be used to control annual and perennial weeds that keep germinating. However, if your lawn is fairly free of weeds, you can skip this process. One should also avoid aerating for three months after any application of a pre-emergent, and always irrigate after spraying unless the product directs otherwise.
When To Apply Post-Emergents
Once soil temperatures start to break over 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit, weed outbreaks should be treated with post-emergents. If for some reason, your lawn is still overrun with weeds after following these steps, then a mixture of pre and post-emergents should be applied.
Recognizing When Bermuda is Dormant Vs. Dead
Because Bermuda grass stays dormant much longer than most other grasses, being able to tell what’s dead and what isn’t isn’t always just a matter of looking. For the most part, if you’re taking care of your lawn properly year-round, it’s likely just dormant. However, there are easy ways to snuff out the difference.
Try the Tug Test
Dead grass shouldn’t be hard to take out with your hands. In the winter, if you’re uncertain, take a patch of brown grass in your hand and pull. If it lifts out of the soil with little or no resistance, the grass is dead.
Any dead grass isn’t going to return in Spring, so steps should be make in replacing it.
Look for Patterns
If your entire lawn has turned the same brown color, it’s unlikely it suddenly all died at the same time. If, however, there are specific patches of brown grass, or it’s browner than other areas, then there’s a chance it’ll need to be replaced.
However, these patches could also be a sign of a larger problem like pests or disease, so you may want to consult with a professional.
Can You Put Roundup on Dormant Bermuda?
Glyphosate, more commonly known by the brand name Roundup, is a nonselective herbicide. It will kill most growing plants, which is why it’s carefully and directly applied to weeds. However, in dormant Bermuda, homeowners often use it to kill weeds while the grass rests.
This is indeed an effective way of handling weeds, with one major caveat: You don’t want to wait too long.
When Is It Too Late To Spray Roundup on Bermuda?
Timing is everything. While glyphosate is effective in killing weeds in dormant Bermuda, but if you wait too long to use it, it can stunt the growth of the grass.
If you do intend to apply Roundup, doing so in January or February – preferably when temperatures are just over 60 degrees Fahrenheit – is the ideal time. It’s also worth mentioning that the amount per acre listed on the product should be followed, never more than 16 ounces.
Research has also suggested that it matters what kind of Bermuda you have, with common Bermuda being more tolerant to glyphosate than a hybrid, such as Tifway.
Will Roundup Kill Dormant Bermuda?
While studies have shown that using it as late as early March didn’t kill any of Bermuda, but it did delay the grass’ green-up. It will also kill any semi-dormant Bermuda, making it even more important that pre-emergents with fertilizer are avoided.
How Do You Kill Poa Annua In Dormant Bermuda?
Poa Annua is an annual bluegrass quite common in turfgrass. While it may work for golf courses, it’s a pesky weed on lawns. Most homeowners control Poa Annua with a pre-emergent, which with a proper application will prevent the seeds from sprouting, however, its seeds can survive several seasons without sprouting.
This is why you must follow treatments with post-emergents in your thick, lovely Bermuda. Following the schedule provided earlier, with treatments in late Winter and early Fall, should help rid your lawn of this irritant.
As you’ve no doubt seen by the results in Spring, Bermuda grass is worth the extra care. Most Bermuda lawns benefit from regular, caring treatment in the dormant months, leading to beautiful growing seasons.