If taken care of properly, Bermuda grass can grow into an extremely thick, green lawn. With proper watering and mowing strategies, you can tailor your lawn care routine to promote thicker grass growth. For a big impact in lawn thickness and health, you should also consider specialized Bermuda grass care strategies, including seasonal lawn scalping, aeration, specialized fertilizers, and vigilant weed control. If you do these things, your Bermuda lawn will be on par with the gorgeous greens of professional golf courses.
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How to Make Bermuda Grass Thicker: Best Tips for Fixing Thin Bermuda Grass
Is your Bermuda grass looking thin? Is your Bermuda lawn patchy after spring green-up? Whether you’re looking to rescue a struggling Bermuda lawn, or you’re trying to boost your Bermuda grass to its full potential, the tips on this list will create a big impact and create a fuller, healthier lawn.
Provide Adequate Water
Bermuda is a very drought-tolerant grass, but without enough water its growth will slow drastically, resulting in a thin lawn. Provide 1–2 (2.5–3 cm) inches of water per week to promote a fuller lawn.
- Water deeply twice per week rather than watering daily for a shorter period. Less frequent, deeper watering will saturate the soil and promote strong root growth, resulting in thicker Bermuda grass.
- Most sprinkler systems will deliver about 1 inch of water in 1 hour, so water for 30–40 minutes twice per week.
- Water in the morning, before the hottest part of the day. This will prevent water evaporation that will starve your grass.
Mow at the Right Height
The best height for Bermuda grass to promote thick growth is about 0.75 inches (2 cm). Set your mower blade to trim the grass at this height. By mowing Bermuda grass frequently (once per week) to under 1 inch in height, you encourage Bermuda grass to grow laterally along the ground, rather than up, which will result in a thicker lawn. Simply changing your mowing height can go a long way to turning a patchy Bermuda lawn into a lush paradise.
Use a Slow-Release Fertilizer
Bermuda grass grows aggressively, drawing a lot of nutrients from the soil. For this reason, it’s essential to feed your grass to ensure it grows as thickly as possible. A slow-release, high-nitrogen fertilizer, such as Milorganite, is a great choice for Bermuda grass. Milorganite releases additional nutrients as your lawn needs them, over a period of several weeks. One application of the right fertilizer can keep your Bermuda grass at its best for an entire season.
- Spread fertilizer in your lawn just after your Bermuda grass has begun to exit dormancy and “green up” in spring.
- If you live in a region where your Bermuda grass doesn’t go dormant, fertilize your yard once in spring (mid-March through mid-April).
- If your Bermuda grass is still thin or patchy, consider a second application of fertilizer in fall (late-September through late-October)
Check Your Soil pH
Acidic soil is deadly to grass, resulting in thin lawns and poor growth. If your Bermuda grass is habitually thin, test your soil’s pH to see if you need to treat your soil with lime.
- Bermuda grass grows best when soil pH is between 5.8 and 7.0. If pH is below 5.8, your soil is too acidic and may be throttling your Bermuda grass.
- Test your soil pH by using an at-home kit or by sending a soil sample to your local extension for testing. Both options are inexpensive and get quick results.
- If your soil is too acidic, consider using lime to reduce soil acidity. This will allow your lawn to thrive again.
Control Invasive Weeds
A thicker lawn prevents weed growth, but invasive weeds can seem to prevent your lawn from growing thicker. If your Bermuda lawn is dotted with unwanted plants, it’s time to tackle those weeds. For best results, either dig out weeds by hand or use one of the best weed killers for Bermuda grass, such as a 2,4 D Amine, which will kill weeds and leave Bermuda grass unharmed.
Aerate Your Lawn
Compacted topsoil is especially harmful to Bermuda grass. If the soil is too hard, your grass will not be able to retrieve essential nutrients or water, resulting in a patchy or thin lawn. Aeration is a great choice for Bermuda grass lawns. Once the soil has been aerated, it will be much easier for oxygen, water, and nutrients to enter the topsoil and feed your lawn.
- Aerate in spring (mid-March through late-April).
- Use a core aerator to best loosen soil.
- Apply any fertilizers, weed killers, or lime after aeration for best results. Aeration allows these soil additives to penetrate the soil and perform at their best.
Scalp Bermuda Grass in Spring
In regions where Bermuda grass goes dormant in winter, mowing especially low (also known as “scalping”) just before the grass exits dormancy can provide huge benefits. Scalping removes dead grass and thatch, eliminating grass diseases and promoting new, thick growth. To properly scalp your yard, do the following:
- Scalp just before green-up, when soil temperatures reach 60℉ (15℃).
- When scalping, set your mower blade to the lowest height. Ideally, you should be cutting your Bermuda grass at 0.5 inches.
- Bag all thatch and dead grass resulting from the scalping. This will prevent the dead material from smothering new grass growth.
Overseed Your Lawn
Overseeding a Bermuda lawn is a great way to ensure thicker growth. The best time to overseed Bermuda grass is in spring, just as the growing season gets underway. Cast the seed and wait 2–3 weeks before mowing again, to protect young grass seedlings. The new grass you add this way will fill in any gaps in your lawn, resulting in increased thickness.
How to Fix Patchy Bermuda Grass Areas
If there are bald or brown patches in your Bermuda grass, this may be due to insufficient watering or poor soil. Here are some good remedies for patchy Bermuda grass:
- Check your watering schedule. If your Bermuda grass is getting less than 1 inch of water per week, increase the watering volume.
- Test soil acidity. If soil pH is below 5.8, then it may be too acidic for your Bermuda grass. It may be time to add lime to your lawn to promote better grass growth.
- If your lawn hasn’t been fertilized in the last 2 years, poor Bermuda grass growth may be due to a lack of nutrients in the soil. Aerate and fertilize your lawn.
- Once you’re sure your lawn is getting enough water, has a healthy pH, and enough available nutrients, overseed the patchy areas with new Bermuda grass seed. New seedlings will fill a patchy area quickly, preventing invasive weeds from taking root
Why Does Bermuda Grass Get Patchy?
Bermuda grass can become patchy for a number of reasons. Here are the most common causes for patchy Bermuda:
- Acidic Soil: Bermuda grass grows poorly when soil pH is below 5.8.
- Insufficient water: Bermuda grass needs 1–1.25 inches (2.5–3 cm) of water per week to grow properly.
- Compacted soil: Bermuda grass can have trouble drawing water and nutrients from hard-packed soil. It will become patchy in compacted areas.
- Insufficient soil nutrients: Bermuda grass grows aggressively and needs to be fertilized to feed its growth.
- Fungus and other grass diseases: Bermuda grass can become sickly if afflicted with disease. Scalping your lawn in spring, dethatching, and aerating, are all key to preventing disease.
Will Bermuda Grass Fill in Bare Spots?
Bermuda grass grows aggressively, spreading both through stolons (shoots above the surface) and rhizomes (exploratory roots below the surface). Because of this, Bermuda can spread very quickly in the right circumstances.
In most cases, healthy Bermuda grass will quickly reclaim small bare spots created by digging out weeds or small-scale grass death. However, Bermuda grass is slower to reclaim larger bald patches in the yard. It has to gradually reclaim these regions from the edge inward. This can take significant time.
Dead or bare spots in your yard are havens for invasive weeds that sprout more quickly than Bermuda grass. If you have large bare spots, the best option is to overseed these areas with Bermuda seed. The grass seedlings will sprout and become a seamless part of the yard, keeping weeds at bay in the process.
How to Thicken Bermuda Grass
Bermuda grass can be thickened through attentive watering and mowing practices. By delivering 1–1.25 inches of water per week and mowing Bermuda grass to 0.75 inches in height, you promote thick, lateral growth.
In order to promote and maintain a thick Bermuda grass lawn, more measures are necessary. In regions where Bermuda grass goes dormant in winter, plan to scalp your lawn in spring. In all areas, make sure to monitor soil pH, aerate Bermuda lawns, attack weeds with a Bermuda-friendly weed killer, and use a slow-release fertilizer to feed your grass.