Image by Macleay Grass Man
Bonnie L. Grant
Bahia grass is most commonly grown as forage but it is sometimes used as erosion control on roadsides and disturbed soils. Bahia grass has excellent drought tolerance and can be grown on a variety of soils. The grass seeds prolifically and spreads into turf areas. It has a rough, unattractive appearance that can invade green lawns. Control of bahia grass is important in lawns to minimize competition. Bahia grass control is achieved with a two-prong method of cultural and chemical means.
Recognizing Bahia Grass
The Y shaped seed heads it produces easily identify bahia grass. Unfortunately, the species is at its most invasive by the time you see the seeds. Control of bahia grass rests on identification of the plant. The grass is matt forming and spreads by rhizomes. It is a light green color, coarse and spreads in tufts or clumps. Efforts to eradicate bahia grass in sod is foiled by its consistent use in warm season climates. A useful bahia grass preventer would be suspension of its use in open settings.
Bahia Grass Control
A natural way bahia grass preventer is with cultural methods. Bahia grass does not tolerate shade and high nitrogen soils. When the grass is found in garden beds it may be hand pulled but you need to be careful to get all the rhizomes. Organic mulch over 6 to 8 layers of wet newspaper is also useful to smother the plants. Consistent lawn mowing prevents the formation of seed heads and the further spread of the plant. Annual fertilization and proper watering techniques will keep sod healthy and help eradicate bahia grass.
There are numerous chemicals that can kill bahia grass. The perennial grass is controlled with pre-emergent or post emergent herbicides. In a vegetable garden, it is best to use a pre-emergent chemical and wait to plant. Bahia grass control in garden beds is achieved with spot spraying of a chemical like Glyphosate. Any product with Atrazine is effective in lawns as a pre-emergent treatment. You can kill bahia grass with Imazaquin in any setting except where food items are grown. Follow up spraying may be required with any chemical.
Bahia grass is a perennial grass and manual removal is difficult because of the rhizomes. The best way to kill bahia grass in most lawns is by applying a product with MSMA. If it is applied 3 times in seven to ten day intervals, the bahia grass will die. Any application of chemical treatments should be consistent with the product’s instructions. The best time to apply post emergent products on lawns is when the selected species has just begun to green up after winter. Control of bahia grass requires vigilance and repeated applications of treatments. Be sure to read the packaging to make sure the product will not adversely affect your turf grass species.