Bermuda grass goes dormant during the winter in most regions, but it typically won’t die. This goes for a Bermuda grass lawn you wish to keep alive as well as unwanted Bermuda grass growing in your lawn. Just because your Bermuda goes brown, doesn’t mean it’s dead. There are also some great ways of caring for dormant Bermuda lawns so it greens up spectacularly in spring.
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What Soil Temperature Causes Bermuda Grass to Go Dormant?
When soil temperatures reach 55℉ (12℃), Bermuda grass enters dormancy. Typically, soil temperatures are about 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than daytime highs. So, when fall temperatures get down to 65℉ (18℃) and nighttime temperatures plummet, your Bermuda grass will start turning brown.
- Bermuda grass begins to go dormant once average soil temperatures come down to 55℉ (12℃).
- Typically, Bermuda grass starts entering dormancy when daytime air temperatures fall to 65℉ (18℃).
- Dormant Bermuda grass is still alive. It should not be confused with dead grass.
Do not panic if your lawn starts turning brown in the fall. This is typical for Bermuda grass in many regions. As long as you have been properly fertilizing and watering your Bermuda lawn, your grass won’t die in cold temperatures.
At What Soil Temperature Does Bermuda Grass Come Out of Dormancy?
Bermuda grass exits dormancy and starts to turn green when the average soil temperature rises to 60℉ (16℃) for 3–5 consecutive days. This occurs in spring, when daytime highs climb up to 70℉ (21℃). Like most warm-season grass, Bermuda thrives in the heat but does not tolerate cold well. That’s why it’s best planted in areas with warm summer months and mild winters.
- A dormant Bermuda lawn will begin to green up once soil temperatures climb to 60℉ (16℃) in spring.
- Spring green up for Bermuda typically begins once daytime highs rise to 70℉ (21℃).
- Your Bermuda lawn may be dormant for a few weeks, a few months, or anywhere in between.
Depending on the region you live in, as well as the weather patterns that year, your Bermuda lawn could be dormant for a couple of weeks or a few months. Don’t worry too much if you have an especially long winter. Bermuda can survive several months of dormancy.
How Do You Take Care of Bermuda Grass in the Winter?
Dormant Bermuda grass has very few needs. Because it is not actively growing, you do not need to fertilize your Bermuda lawn in winter. However, Bermuda grass can suffer from deadly winter droughts in dry regions. Once your grass starts to go dormant, water it about one-third as often as you would during the summer months.
- There is no need to fertilize Bermuda grass in winter.
- Provide dormant Bermuda grass with 1 inch of water every 3–4 weeks.
- If your lawn receives at least 1 inch of water from precipitation over this 3–4 week period, you can skip the watering.
If you’re wondering how much to water Bermuda grass in winter, the guidelines are fairly simple. Provide one inch of water every 3–4 weeks. This is best provided all at once by watering with a standard sprinkler for one hour. This will keep the ground moist and prevent your lawn from dying during winter. Of course, if your lawn has received at least 1 inch of rain in the last 3–4 weeks, there’s no need to water.
Should You Cut Your Bermuda Grass Short for Winter?
Do not mow your Bermuda grass short before winter arrives. Cutting your lawn short late in the year can cause damage that slow-growing winter grass can’t heal. This opens the door for fungus and grass disease that can kill your Bermuda. If you’re wondering when to scalp Bermuda grass, plan to mow your lawn low in spring, just before it starts its growth spurt.
- Do not mow low or “scalp” your Bermuda lawn in fall or winter.
- The best mowing height for Bermuda in fall is 1.5–2.5 inches tall (4–6 cm).
- Stop mowing your Bermuda grass once soil temperatures fall to 60℉ (16℃).
- Scalping your lawn in winter can invite disease and deadly fungus into your lawn.
The best mowing height for Bermuda grass as winter approaches is the standard 1.5–2.5 inches (4–6 cm). Because Bermuda is a type of grass that stops growing as temperatures get lower, stop using any lawn mowers and edgers once the soil temperature falls to 60℉ (16℃) in autumn. This will keep your grass from harm.
Can You Kill Bermuda Grass in the Winter?
Grass killer sprays won’t be effective on dormant Bermuda grass. If you are trying to get rid of invasive Bermuda grass during the winter months, your only recourse is to dig it up, roots and all. This is because dormant, brown Bermuda grass won’t absorb weed killer sprays. The grass plant must be actively growing for these herbicides to work.
- Dormant Bermuda grass won’t absorb herbicides, so don’t bother spraying Bermuda grass in winter.
- To get rid of Bermuda grass in winter, you’ll have to remove it by hand.
- The best method is to wait until spring to spray your lawn with a herbicide that will kill Bermuda but won’t harm other grasses.
Although winter desiccation (drought) can harm Bermuda grass in dry areas, Bermuda grass will often survive winter dormancy without much water. So, you can’t rely on winter weather to wipe out Bermuda grass. It’s best to wait until spring and use an Atrazine-based weed killer to destroy invasive Bermuda in your lawn.
Can Bermuda Grass Survive in the Winter?
Bermuda grass can survive freezing winters. It will begin to go dormant in fall and will be completely brown during most winters, but this is only temporary. Once warm weather returns, your Bermuda lawn will regain its green color. By late spring, you will have a green lawn once more. In order to make sure your Bermuda lawn bounces back in spring, provide 1 inch of water every 3–4 weeks. This prevents winter drought from seriously damaging your grass.