Bermuda grass should be dethatched when it is actively growing in spring, from March through April.
- If you live in a region where your Bermuda grass goes dormant in winter, dethatch 2–4 weeks after spring green-up.
- If your Bermuda grass does not go dormant in winter, dethatch in March.
- NEVER dethatch dormant or slow-growing Bermuda grass. Dethatching dormant grass may kill your lawn.
- Dethatch Bermuda grass only when the thatch layer is more than 1/2 inch thick.
By following these simple rules you will know exactly when to dethatch your lawn. With the proper timing, you can safely dethatch your lawn to promote faster, greener growth.
Does Bermuda Grass Need Dethatching?
Thatch buildup spells disaster for Bermuda lawns. Thatch is made up of Bermuda roots, rhizomes, and stems. Unlike grass blades, these parts of the Bermuda grass plant resist decomposition. If left unchecked, thatch will continue to build up. As it does, it will choke out your grass.
It’s essential to monitor thatch buildup in Bermuda yards and dethatch as necessary. If you want a green, thick, and healthy yard, plan on dethatching.
Negative Effects of Thatch Buildup
Thick thatch may not be readily apparent and can seem harmless. However, an excess of thatch can have the following negative impacts on your Bermuda grass and yard:
- Yellowing grass.
- Thin or sparse grass growth.
- Insufficient soil moisture.
- Prevent nutrients from reaching the soil.
- Reduced resistance to drought, heat, or cold.
When thatch gets too thick, it acts as a sponge, absorbing water and fertilizer meant for the soil. This means that the essential water and nutrients your lawn needs never reach your grass. Excessive thatch also causes new Bermuda grass to attempt to root in thatch instead of soil. Roots growing in thatch are at high risk of being killed by hot, cold, or dry conditions.
When Should You Dethatch Bermuda Grass?
Bermuda grass must be dethatched at the beginning of the growing season, in spring. This allows the grass to recover from the stressful dethatching process and return greener and fuller than before.
- Dethatch in March or April.
- Dethatch after spring green-up.
- Do not dethatch when Bermuda is dormant.
- Do not dethatch in the fall.
If you dethatch your Bermuda lawn late in the year, you run the risk of destroying rhizomes where Bermuda grass stores the energy it needs to survive the winter months. By dethatching in fall or winter, you may kill Bermuda grass. If you’re going to dethatch, do so in spring.
If you want to take extra precautions in preserving your lawn, you can dethatch with a rake.
How Often Should You Dethatch Bermuda Grass?
Dethatch Bermuda grass based on the thickness of the thatch layer present in your yard. Follow these steps to determine if it’s time to dethatch:
- Dig out a small section of your yard, 3 inches deep.
- Measure the thickness of the thatch layer.
- If the thatch is greater than 1/2 inch thick, dethatch.
- If the thatch is 1/2 inch or less thick, do not dethatch.
A 1/2 inch thick layer of thatch helps your Bermuda grass retain moisture and withstand changes in temperature, as well as suppress weeds. A thin layer is beneficial, but thick thatch is bad for your lawn. Your goal is not to maintain thatch at the optimal level. Check the thatch depth each spring to see if your lawn requires dethatching.
Scalping vs Dethatching: Which is Better?
For best results, scalp your lawn prior to dethatching. Scalping will slow thatch buildup and make your next dethatching run more effective.
Scalping is the practice of mowing Bermuda grass at an extremely low height (around 0.5 inches). By setting your mower blade height low and scalping your lawn in spring, just before green-up, you remove dead growth and reduce the amount of material that would join the thatch layer.
Once you have properly scalped your Bermuda lawn with a standard mower, wait for your lawn to green up. Then, bring in a vertical mower and dethatch. The scalping run will get rid of dead growth, making it easier for your vertical mower to remove thatch. Scalping and dethatching are a great one-two punch for spring Bermuda grass lawn care.
Bermuda Grass: When to Dethatch
For best results, dethatch Bermuda grass in spring, beginning in March. Do not dethatch dormant or slow-growing Bermuda grass as this may kill your lawn. Avoid dethatching in fall or winter for best results.
Dethatch only when the thatch layer in your yard is greater than 1/2 inch thick. Thick thatch chokes out the grass by blocking water and nutrients from reaching the soil. On the flipside, Bermuda resists weeds and temperature changes best when there is a small amount of thatch present.
When properly timed and performed only as needed, dethatching can have a huge impact on your Bermuda grass lawn. You’ll see improved growth and resilience after the dethatching process is complete.