To help your Bermuda grass spread more quickly, begin by testing your soil pH. Soil pH outside of the proper range can be corrected by spreading lime or sulfur on your lawn. Next, decompact your soil by renting and using a core aerator. After aerating the soil, fertilize your Bermuda grass once per month from May through August. Create a watering schedule for your Bermuda grass with 1 to 2 deep waterings per week. Additionally, kill any weeds in your lawn, since they will prevent Bermuda grass from spreading. Finally, overseed your lawn with new Bermuda seeds in order to fill in stubborn bare spots.
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Why is Your Bermuda Grass Not Spreading?
The most common reason Bermuda grass fails to spread is that it isn’t receiving adequate nutrients. Bermuda is a heavy feeder that requires 4 to 5 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn annually. The bottom line is, if you aren’t fertilizing your Bermuda grass multiple times throughout the growing season, it won’t spread nearly as fast as it’s capable of.
- Lack of fertilizer.
- Poor soil pH.
- Hardened soil.
- Improper watering.
- Competition from weeds.
In addition to a lack of soil nutrients, Bermuda grass may struggle to spread due to improper soil pH, compacted soil, or shallow watering. Each of these issues will stunt Bermuda growth and invite invasive weeds. Our care tips tackle each of these problems and resolve them.
6 Tips to Get Bermuda Grass to Spread Quickly
If your Bermuda grass lawn isn’t spreading, you can take steps to correct the problem quickly. The good news is, once you’ve removed the obstacles preventing Bermuda grass from spreading, it will make up for lost time. When given the proper conditions, Bermuda spreads extremely fast.
Test and Amend Your Soil
Before doing anything else, make sure your soil pH isn’t strangling your Bermuda grass. Use an at-home soil testing kit to find the pH of the soil in your yard. Take samples from several areas in the yard and test them. The ideal pH for Bermuda grass is between 5.8 and 7.0. Anything outside this range needs to be corrected.
- Use this soil testing kit to find your lawn’s soil pH.
- Bermuda grass requires a soil pH of 5.8 to 7.0.
- Soil pH outside of this range will prevent Bermuda grass from absorbing nutrients.
- Improper soil pH can be corrected by treating your lawn with soil amendments.
If your soil pH isn’t in the ideal range for Bermuda grass, nothing will help your grass spread until the pH is corrected. Soil that is too acidic or too basic actually prevents Bermuda grass from pulling nutrients out of the ground. This is what causes the grass to spread slowly. If your soil’s pH is below 5.8, it can be corrected with calcitic or dolomitic lime. If the soil pH is above 7.0, you can lower it by treating your lawn with sulfur.
Aerate the Soil
Bermuda grass spreads through rhizomes (roots) and stolons (runners), but hardened soil can drastically slow the spread of the grass. If the soil is compacted, the roots won’t be able to spread and the runners won’t find purchase on the soil surface. So, it’s an excellent idea to rent a core aerator to loosen the soil on your lawn. Aeration will allow the grass to spread more quickly.
- Compact soil stops Bermuda grass from spreading through roots and runners.
- Rent a core aerator to fully aerate your lawn.
- Operate the aerator back and forth across the lawn to pull out soil cores and decompact the ground.
- Allow the soil cores to stay where they fall.
- Aerated soil will soak up nutrients, oxygen, and water more easily.
Core aerators can be rented from most hardware stores and tool rental companies. To aerate your lawn, first pass over the lawn in a back-and-forth pattern, similar to mowing. Then, go over the lawn in an up-and-down pattern to make sure every square foot is evenly aerated. Leave the soil plugs on the surface to break down naturally.
Begin a Fertilizer Schedule
Now that your lawn has been aerated, any fertilizer you spread will penetrate to the root zone and feed your Bermuda grass much more easily. So, it’s a great idea to start a hybrid fertilizer schedule as soon as you’re through aerating. Our combination of slow-release and fast-release fertilizers will provide a massive boost for Bermuda grass.
- Bermuda grass should be fertilized 4 times each year.
- Fertilize in May, June, July, and August.
- Provide 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet each time you fertilize.
Because Bermuda grass is a heavy feeder, plan to fertilize your lawn 4 times per year. Begin fertilizing in May. Fertilize once per month in May, June, July, and August. By applying 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet each time you fertilize, you’ll feed your Bermuda grass adequately without harming your lawn with fertilizer burn.
Bermuda grass thrives when it is watered deeply but infrequently. Avoid daily watering, since this will promote shallow roots that stunt Bermuda growth, make it weak to drought, and stop it from spreading. Instead, follow our detailed Bermuda grass watering guide to provide the right amount of water year-round.
- Water Bermuda grass 1 to 2 times weekly.
- Each time you water, moisten the soil to a depth of 6 inches (15 cm).
- Do not water Bermuda grass daily.
- Early morning is the best time to water Bermuda grass.
Most Bermuda lawns do best when watered twice per week. Water early in the morning, at sunrise. This will allow more of the water to soak into the soil and feed grass roots. Watering during the heat of the day causes evaporation that starves your lawn. Watering at night will invite rot and disease that will kill your grass.
Drive Out Weeds
Any weed that takes root in your lawn will slow down the spread of Bermuda grass. Weeds grow quickly because they steal nutrients and water from the soil at an accelerated speed. To encourage faster spreading grass, kill weeds right away. You can use hand weeding tools to uproot weeds, or you can spray your lawn with a herbicide that kills everything but Bermuda grass.
- Kill weeds with hand-weeding methods or this Bermuda-safe weed spray.
- If left untouched, weeds will steal nutrients and water your grass requires.
- As you kill weeds, Bermuda grass will spread to cover bare areas.
- Thickly-growing Bermuda grass will choke out weeds
Once your Bermuda grass has started to spread due to proper care and fertilization, your weed problems will decrease. Thickly growing Bermuda grass smothers weed seedlings and crowds out invasive grasses. So, cultivating a fast-spreading Bermuda lawn will actually eliminate some yard work.
- Kills weeds without harming your lawn.
- You can expect results within only a few hours.
- Easy-to-use on a variety of grass types.
Overseed Your Lawn
You can encourage Bermuda grass to spread more quickly by overseeding your lawn. Spread new Bermuda grass seed on your existing lawn in spring. If your lawn has problem areas, use our steps for overseeding a lawn with bare spots. A little preparation will help you grow a lot more Bermuda grass to fill in your lawn.
- Overseed your lawn with Bermuda grass seed to encourage a faster spread.
- Overseeding will require you to prepare and dress the soil.
- You must water more frequently after overseeding to encourage the most grass sprouts.
Keep in mind that overseeding will require you to change your watering schedule until the new grass establishes itself. You will need to water new grass seed much more often. In the first few weeks, you will have to provide water twice daily. This is essential to prevent the seed from drying out. If Bermuda grass seedlings dry out after sprouting, they will quickly die.
How Long Do Bermuda Grass Plugs Take to Spread?
Bermuda grass plugs require an entire growing season (from spring to fall) to spread and fill in a yard. If your Bermuda grass is not receiving the proper care, it may take 2 to 3 years for the plugs to fill in the yard. To encourage Bermuda plugs to spread as fast as possible, check out our techniques for making Bermuda grass thicker.
- When properly cared for, Bermuda plugs can spread to fill a yard in one growing season.
- Without proper watering and fertilizer, Bermuda grass plugs can take years to fill in.
- Kill weeds that take root in bare areas to help Bermuda plugs spread more quickly.
When encouraging the growth of Bermuda grass plugs, stay vigilant for invasive weeds. Opportunistic plants will sprout in the bare ground between Bermuda plugs. Once they take root, weeds will rob water and nutrients from your grass, further slowing its growth. When you see weeds sprout, uproot them quickly to help your plugs spread faster.
How Do You Encourage Bermuda Grass to Spread?
The best methods for encouraging Bermuda grass to spread are:
- Test your soil pH and correct it if necessary.
- Use a core aerator to decompact the soil.
- Apply lawn fertilizer once monthly in May, June, July, and August.
- Water Bermuda grass 1–2 times per week, in the early morning.
- Use weed killers that won’t harm Bermuda grass.
- Overseed with Bermuda grass seed in spring.
These methods will encourage a thick, green lawn. With just a little encouragement, Bermuda grass will send out the long runners it is famous for.