Bermuda grass can be quite troublesome because it is hardy and difficult to get rid of. Here is a post that focuses on identification and elimination of this actively growing weed.
There are many kinds of lawn grasses and one of them is Bermuda grass. This grass species can invade lawns with other grasses and prove to be a difficult-to-remove weed. Scientifically known as Cynodon dactylon, this grass is native to Asia, Southern Europe, Northern and Eastern Africa, and Australia. The reason why this grass can be quite troublesome is that it grows rapidly, is extremely drought resistant, and can grow in different kinds of soils. Because of these qualities, its elimination becomes very difficult. Every time a lawn is freed from this grass, in no time, it starts growing back. Therefore, special techniques are used to eliminate this grass completely from a particular piece of land. Before using methods of elimination, one must first identify the grass type so that the relevant technique can be used. In the following sections you will come to know about appropriate ways for identifying and eliminating Bermuda grass.
Identification of Bermuda Grass
Identifying Bermuda grass is fairly easy if you carefully monitor some of its characteristics. For prompt and accurate identification you can always take help of a turf specialist, but if you want to do it yourself, here are the points you need to study to establish whether the grass covering your lawn is Bermuda or not.
Bermuda grass grows extensively in warm climate and its growth is at its peak between late March and early September.
Grass size is one of the factors that helps in identification. Bermuda grass is usually 4-12 inches long. Its leaves have a pointed appearance, and can be up to 6 inches long with leaf sheaths that are about 5 inches in length.
Bermuda grass produces typical flowers. They appear like bird’s feet growing at the tip of the stem. Blooming starts from late summer and continues till the beginning of winter. The flower has three to eight purple branches. Small oval seeds are attached to the flower stalks giving it a spiky, zig-zag appearance.
The grass develops a fibrous root with deep rhizomes. Young roots are white in color which turn brown or yellow when they mature. Growth takes place with the help of rhizomes and stolons. Rhizomes thrive below the ground, whereas stolons grow above it.
Growth of this species is very fast as compared to other warm-season grasses. Therefore, if you see the grass growing quick enough, it could probably be Bermuda grass.
This weed forms a dense mat on the ground with roots emerging at nodes. It also develops a characteristic tuft of hair in the collar region which is absent in most of the grasses.
Another noticeable characteristic of this grass is that it becomes dormant at low temperatures, and resumes growth with the arrival of the warm climate.
Methods of Elimination
Once you figure out that the invading weed is Bermuda grass, you can proceed to the next step of elimination. It must be kept in mind that getting rid of it is a tough job and requires a lot of patience because of its immense ability to regrow. Methods given below will give you a clear picture on how to eliminate Bermuda grass effectively.
Stripping or Digging
Stripping can be used to get rid of all types of grasses. Strip off the grass and cover the soil with 2-3 layers of cardboard. Now top it up with about 5 inches of mulch, and leave the setting undisturbed for 6 months. Covering the soil with cardboard and mulch will prevent its regrowth. Alternatively, Bermuda grass can be removed by manually picking the roots after digging the soil about 4-6 inches deep. This method can be conveniently used when the weather is cool and the soil is wet with light rain because digging moist soil is easier as compared to dry soil.
A heavy fabric barrier like landscaping fabric can be used to stop weed growth. First, scrap off the grass from the soil. Next, cover the entire area with the fabric so that grass does not receive sunlight that is essential for its growth. Cover the fabric with a protective layer of mulch to protect it from sunlight. Lack of sunlight will eventually kill the grass under the covered area.
This technique utilizes clear plastic mulching to eradicate Bermuda grass. When solar radiations are at its peak, cover the grass with clear plastic sheets. The high temperatures generated underneath the covering due to the sun-rays is strong enough to destroy the grass. This method usually requires 4-6 weeks for complete destruction of the invasive grass.
Fertilizers are one of the main contributors for the growth of any grass. However, some grasses need less amount of fertilizers as compared to other grasses. Bermuda grass falls under the category that needs a substantially higher amount of fertilizer. This fact can be used to control its growth as well. When taking measures to eradicate this grass, use minimal fertilizers so that its growth is drastically reduced.
Selective and Non-selective Herbicides
Many selective and non-selective herbicides are available for restricting the growth of Bermuda grass. Herbicides work best when the grass is actively growing and the leaf surface is large. Selective herbicides contain core ingredients like sethoxydim and clethodim, whereas non-selective herbicides are basically constituted of glyphosate. Apply the first spray of a selective herbicide during early spring when the grass is less than 6 inches long. When using a non-selective herbicide, spray during late summer when roots start accumulating food. Subsequently spray the herbicide when new growth is less than 6 inches. Consistent treatment with the herbicide will eventually lead to its elimination.
Bermuda grass spreads in lawns with delicate grass species quite aggressively. Therefore, its identification at the right time can help you in preventing it from spreading in the entire area. You cannot expect your lawn to become weed-free in a very little time. Chemical methods need a significant time span to completely eradicate the grass. If you do not have the patience to wait for months, manual procedures are good for you, but then be prepared to put in that extra effort required for manual removal.