Bermuda grass is an aggressive warm season turfgrass and fodder. It can become invasive and infest other turfgrasses, most notably zoysia grass and tall fescue. The usual herbicides may be toxic to the wanted species, so managing Bermuda grass when it invades the lawn takes some special steps. Controlling Bermuda grass in flower beds is a little easier, but the tenacious roots require deep removal or the plant will simply reestablish itself. Read on to learn some tips on how to get rid of Bermuda grass but not the plants you want to keep in your garden.
Bermuda Grass Control
Bermuda grass is native to the harsh climate of Africa. It is widely used in the southwest and southern United States. The plant’s vigor and tolerance of heat, drought and heavy foot traffic make it an ideal choice to colonize difficult to maintain, low nutrient areas.
It also makes Bermuda grass control difficult in areas with already planted species that you don’t want damaged or overrun. The plant establishes from deep rhizomes and surface stolons, which all need to be removed or killed for complete control.
Both cultural and herbicide methods may be how to kill Bermuda grass in lawns and garden beds effectively.
Managing Bermuda Grass Naturally
The best way to prevent Bermuda grass from infesting your lawn is to maintain healthy, thick turf. Keep the mowing height fairly high (3 to 3 ½ inches tall), irrigate to 6 inches twice per week and fertilize at the appropriate time and rate for your sod species.
Mulching flower and plant beds will help minimize Bermuda grass invasion. In areas where other plants do not exist, solarization with black plastic or constant rototilling, while withholding water, may prove effective Bermuda grass control. Use edging in beds installed 6 inches into soil to prevent the grass from spreading into and competing with your shrubs and flowers.
Vigilance is required to get rid of Bermuda grass but not plants in highly established gardens.
Controlling Bermuda Grass in Flower Beds
Effective management of the grass in established beds with other plants can often be done by simply digging out the plant. Ensure that you get all the rhizomes and stolons, and do it before the plant sets seed. If seed is present, all bets are off, as it can persist in soil for 2 years or more.
Over a period of time, culling the grass deeply and manually will minimize its presence. If you haven’t got patience for that type of work, use an herbicide such as glyphosate. This is a non-selective chemical which systemically kills any plant it contacts and should only be used for careful spot control. Do not use in windy conditions or where other plants may become affected.
For more specific management in crowded beds, try a product with the acting ingredients Sethoxydim or Fluazifop. These are safe to use near broad leafed perennials, shrubs and trees.
How to Kill Bermuda Grass in Lawns
When Bermuda grass is threatening to overrun your lawn, it’s time to get out the big guns. No one likes to have to resort to chemical warfare, but this persistent grass is one of the times it might be necessary.
As with everything, timing is essential. Treat the weed when it is actively growing between the months of May and September. Apply in early spring when growth is less than 6 inches high and again before new growth reaches the same height.
Most of the chemical controls must be applied by a licensed professional, but Triclopyr is one available at most nurseries. Follow the directions carefully and apply every 4 weeks during the growing season.
For control of seeds, use a product with Siduron, which is safe to use even in newly seeded grass but cannot be used before seeding an area. It is a pre-emergent and should be applied every two years before the Bermuda grass seed germinates.
In all cases, follow the manufacturer’s application instructions, cautions and rates of mixing and spraying.