Bermuda grass requires 1.5 inches (4 cm) of water per week during the growing season. When Bermuda grass is brown and dormant, it needs only 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water every 3–4 weeks.
During the growing season, it’s important to water Bermuda grass deeply 1–2 times per weeks. The goal is to moisten the soil down to a depth of 4–6 inches (10–15 cm) to encourage deep root growth. This deep watering enables Bermuda grass to resist drought and disease, creating a healthier lawn.
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Bermuda Grass Water Requirements
When Bermuda grass is green and actively growing in spring, summer, and fall, it should be watered twice per week. Each time you water, the soil should be moistened to a depth of 4–6 inches (10–15 cm). This can typically be accomplished in 30–60 minutes of watering with a sprinkler system.
- Water 2 times per week, providing 0.75 inches of water per session (1.5 inches per week).
- Adequate water can be delivered in 30–60 minutes by a standard sprinkler.
- Watering should moisten soil down to 4–6 inches.
- Push a screwdriver into the soil after watering. If it easily sinks 4–6 inches into the soil, watering is adequate. If the screwdriver does not go deeply enough, increase the watering duration.
- If soil is soggy or water is running off the surface, reduce the watering duration.
- Watering needs may increase to 3–4 weekly waterings during extremely hot conditions.
As a rule of thumb, it’s much better to increase the length of individual watering sessions than to add additional watering sessions. If your lawn seems dry, try adding 15–30 minutes to each watering session. However, if you live in a desert climate, such as Arizona or New Mexico, or are experiencing a heatwave, it may be necessary to water deeply 3–4 times per week to keep your grass green.
Should You Water Dormant Bermuda Grass?
Dormant Bermuda grass can’t be treated as dead grass. Although most of its biological processes have paused, it will still struggle to green up and may die over the winter if left unwatered. Here’s how to make sure your dormant lawn gets enough water:
- Ensure dormant Bermuda grass gets 1 inch of water every 3–4 weeks.
- If adequate water is provided by precipitation, there’s no need to water the dormant lawns.
- If there is a dry period in winter (3 weeks with no precipitation), provide 1 inch of water.
- 1 inch of water can be provided in about 1 hour with a standard sprinkler.
Many regions where Bermuda grass is grown receive winter rainfall that keeps your lawn from suffering winter desiccation. However, if you have a dry winter it’s essential to water your dormant Bermuda grass to keep it alive through the cold season.
What is the Best Time to Water Bermuda Grass?
Always water Bermuda lawns early in the morning. The best time to water is just before sunrise, between 5 and 7 AM. The weather is cool enough that the water won’t evaporate before it can penetrate soil, but the afternoon sun will burn off any excess water that could cause boggy ground and Bermuda grass root rot.
- Water in the morning (5–7 AM).
- Avoid afternoon watering. Water will evaporate before it penetrates the soil.
Watering Bermuda grass during the late morning or afternoon robs your lawn of water. The sun and high daytime temperatures will evaporate water before it penetrates the soil, especially during summer. This leads to drought conditions and will waste the money you spend on all those gallons of water.
Is it OK to Water Bermuda Grass at Night?
Do not water your Bermuda lawn at night. This causes standing water, which invites mold, disease, and pests.
Although evening irrigation may seem like a good alternative to watering in the morning, avoid this method. Watering late in the day lets excess water stand in your yard. This is the source of many common molds, rusts, and plant diseases, and can attract lawn-destroying insects to your yard. Be sure to dry up your yard if you are dealing with standing water.
Will Bermuda Grass Die if Not Watered?
Unwatered Bermuda grass will enter temporary dormancy. If it is left unwatered long enough, it will die. Although Bermuda grass is touted as a “drought-resistant” grass this simply means it will attempt to go dormant when it isn’t watered.
- Unwatered Bermuda grass will turn brown and go dormant.
- If left unwatered for 6–8 weeks, Bermuda grass will die.
- Dormant Bermuda grass can be revived with water, but it will come back thin and weed-infested.
If you skip watering your Bermuda grass you may be able to revive it from dormancy with regular irrigation, if it hasn’t died. However, lawns returning from drought struggle and come back much thinner than before. This sets the table for a massive weed invasion. It can take up to a year to reclaim a drought-stricken Bermuda lawn.
What Does Underwatered Bermuda Grass Look Like?
Bermuda grass is grown in some very dry regions of Arizona, Texas, and California. In these areas, it’s common for Bermuda grass to suffer from not getting enough water. The symptoms of underwatering are:
- Footprints are visible after walking on the lawn—the grass doesn’t spring back.
- Blue-grey coloration of grass blades.
- Dry soil that cannot easily be penetrated by a screwdriver.
- Grass is growing slowly or unevenly.
If left unwatered long enough following these symptoms, the grass will begin to turn brown and dormant. To prevent this, first increase the duration of your twice-weekly watering sessions. If the grass doesn’t return to vigor after 1–2 weeks, increase watering to 3–4 times per week.
Can You Overwater Bermuda Grass?
Bermuda grass lawns can be damaged or killed by overwatering. Grasses need moist—not marshy or muddy—soil to grow effectively.
- Overwatered Bermuda grass can be afflicted with root rot, mold, and other diseases.
- Subtract rainfall from watering needs to prevent overwatering.
In addition to dry regions, Bermuda grass is very common in areas that receive heavy rainfall, including Florida and the Gulf Coast. In these areas, make sure to subtract rainfall from your lawn’s weekly watering needs. If you receive 1–2 inches of rain in a week, you don’t need to water at all.
What Does Overwatered Bermuda Grass Look Like?
It’s common for homeowners to mistake the signs of overwatered Bermuda grass for underwatered grass. This leads them to increase watering and compound the problem. If you think your lawn may be getting too much water, look for these signs:
- Yellowing grass or yellowed edges of grass blades.
- Mushrooms growing in the yard.
- Reddish/orange grass blades, which is a sign of grass fungal disease.
- Soggy/marshy soil.
- Increased weed growth.
If your grass seems to be struggling or discoloring but weeds are thriving, it’s a sure sign your lawn is getting too much water. If this—or any of the other signs—are present, reduce the duration of your watering sessions gradually. If the issues persist, you may even need to pull back your watering to 1 session per week.
Does Bermuda Grass Need a Lot of Water?
Bermuda grass has average water needs. At 1–1.5 inches of water per week, Bermuda can be maintained with twice-weekly watering in most climates. This makes it well suited to dry regions because watering is not prohibitively expensive, but also allows it to thrive in warm areas that receive regular natural rainfall.
As with all turf grasses, it’s better to water Bermuda grass less often but for longer periods of time. Daily watering for short periods makes your lawn weaker, so resist the urge to do this. Stick to 2 watering sessions per week for 30–60 minutes per session. If your lawn needs more water, make the sessions longer. If the ground is soggy and seems overwatered, trim the length of these twice-weekly watering sessions. The result will be a Bermuda lawn that grows beautifully through the summer.