Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bermuda Grass Upkeep

MAINTENANCE practices for Bermudagrass depend upon the variety and purpose for which this grass is chosen.

Golf course and athletic fields are the highest maintained areas. These are usually the hybrid Bermudas that were specifically developed for this kind of activity and in the past were only sodded. Seeded varieties are now opening up the field for home owners to achieve a better Bermudagrass lawns than previously possible.

The Basics Of Bermuda Grass Maintenance

WATERING: Golfing greens, athletic fields of all kinds need a particular watering schedule (usually irrigation) to maintain the highest degree of growth that can be obtained with grasses. Over watering can bring about fungus and invitations to insects. Trained groundskeepers time all maintenance to conditions and season. Lawns that are not highly maintained can use the drought tolerance of this grass to their advantage. In most average rainfall seasons little if any water may be needed. Although Bermuda grass is drought tolerant it does responds well to watering and fertilization if the desired density is not sufficient or if it is slower growing than usual during peak seasons.

WEEDING: This is an aggressive grass and can usually take care of weeds on its own once the sod is established and well managed. A regular mowing program helps control weeds. The same goes for pastures.

FERTILIZATION: Although Bermudagrass generally requires lower amounts of fertilizer, usage will determine how much "fuel" this grass will need. Under intense wear, mowing and watering schedules more of the fertilizer will be used or leached into the soil. Bermudagrass used in average lawns and erosion control situations generally needs less fertilizer.

MOWING: Lawns planted with this grass can be mown much closer than other warm season grasses. Once more this information is according to the variety and cutting heights range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches. The closest mown Bermudagrass are the most improved varieties which include the vegetative as well as the newer seeded varieties. The newer seeded varieties can be maintained as low as 3/8 in. while the hybrids can be mown down to 3/16 range. Low mowing of Bermuda will generally require daily mowing during peak growing seasons.

DISEASE / INSECTS: Pearl Scale is a big problem on Tifgreen and other sodded Bermuda grasses.
Unfortunately, there is no good method to control them on some of the improved vegetatively established Bermudas. The pearl scale feeds on the roots, so getting insecticide down in the soil where the insects are is difficult, and insecticides are not that effective against them. The best option in turf infested with pearl scale is to plant seeded Bermudagrasses which are naturally resistant to them. No one knows the mechanism of resistance in the seeded Bermuda grasses to pearl scale - they just never get infested with it.

OVERSEEDING: Why overseed, when to overseed, how to overseed and with what grass, does one overseed with? These are the questions that can be answered at the lawn forum. A short version at this time from us is that overseeding accomplishes many goals for improvement, continuous green look, and is the prime example of human ingenuity over Mother Nature. Grass coverage is now (more than ever before) an erosion control factor. Once in place we yearn to keep the cover as green as long as possible. Overseeding warm grasses with cool grasses in the transition zone has succeeded with this goal. Athletic fields and golf courses led the way with a demand for grasses to provide a year round playing field.

  • Perennial rye grass is the number one favorite to overseed Bermudagrass. The perennial ryegrass will not compete as aggressively with the Bermuda and will die back as soon as the temperature rises. Also it germinates quickly and has good disease resistance and high traffic density.
  • Annual rye is also used in a lot of lawns because of the price and ease of overseeding. Sometimes the annual may return in weed form and cause problems later.
  • Overseeding also thins the Bermuda turf and over a period of time this results in having to overseed with with more Bermudagrass seeds. This is an excellent opportunity to add newer varieties to improve the old lawn's characteristics. The best advice for overseeding is water according to directions and keep off the grass until it is growing sufficiently. In the spring you should start a transition program to encourage the Bermuda to grow while forcing the ryegrass to die out.

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