Bermuda is characterized by very fine individual grass blades that are slender and soft. Other warm-season grasses, such as St. Augustine, have broad, flat blades. Bermuda grass is also noted for its deep green coloration. Bermuda grass puts out long runners that creep outward from the initial bunch of grass. If you see a thin-bladed grass with runners and deep green color, it’s most likely that you have Bermuda grass.
How to Identify Bermuda Grass
The telltale signs of Bermuda grass are:
- Fine, narrow grass blades.
- Deep green color.
- The grass is soft to the touch.
- Long runners being sent out by the grass.
- The grass survives or thrives when the mowing height is very low (1–1.5 inches).
Very few grasses are as soft and fine-bladed as Bermuda, making it unique. Bermuda grass is also darker green than many other grass varieties. Finally, Bermuda is one of the few grass varieties that performs well when mowed extremely short. Most grasses will struggle or die if cut shorter than 2.5 inches (6 cm) but Bermuda grass is one of the few varieties that performs well when cut as short as 1 inch (2.5 cm).
What Does a Bermuda Grass Sprout Look Like?
Bermuda grass sprouts begin by growing vertically from the soil. The very top of the sprout will have two blades pointing in opposite directions. As the sprout continues to grow, additional, smaller blades will sprout from this main central stalk.
- Bermuda sprouts start by growing vertically from the soil.
- Two thin grass blades will point in opposite directions at the top of the sprout.
- Additionally, smaller blades will grow on the sprout stalk.
- Bermuda sprouts may not have the same rich, dark green as mature Bermuda grass.
It can be difficult to tell one grass species from another from a sprout alone. So, it can be hard to tell if your grass seedlings are Bermuda or not. New Bermuda sprouts may be a lighter green than mature Bermuda, so it’s worth waiting to see if the grass darkens as it grows.
What Does Bermuda Grass Look Like When it Spreads?
Although Bermuda grass will propagate from seed, it’s more common to see it spread due to the runners it puts out. In some cases, Bermuda runners have a characteristic reddish color.
- Spreading Bermuda grass puts out runners.
- Bermuda runners sometimes have red-hued stems.
- Runners put out by bermuda grass are jointed and have roots and blades growing from each joint.
- Bermuda grass puts out runners aggressively and spreads faster than most other grasses.
These wiry runners will have a few grass blades sprouting at each joint, and are often rooted at each point where there are new blades. Spotting these runners is a sure sign that you have Bermuda grass and that it is spreading quickly.
How Can You Tell Crabgrass From Bermuda?
Luckily, crabgrass and Bermuda are very different grass types. Bermuda grass is fine and dark green, while crabgrass is broad-bladed and lighter green than Bermuda. Although both types of grass send out runners, Bermuda runners have branching “stems” with several fine grass blades. In comparison, crabgrass has wide grass blades sprouting from the main runner.
- Crabgrass is lighter green than Bermuda.
- The individual grass blades of crabgrass are broader.
- Crabgrass runners have fewer, larger grass blades.
- Crabgrass grows in bunches
- Both crabgrass and Bermuda grass do have similar seed heads, if they are allowed to grow tall.
If your lawn is unkempt it can become harder to tell crabgrass from Bermuda. Both grass species produce very similar seed heads. However, one of the advantages of a well-kept Bermuda grass lawn is that Bermuda can actually choke out weeds, such as crabgrass.
How Can You Tell Bermuda Grass From St. Augustine?
Bermuda and St. Augustine can be quickly identified by their color and grass blade width. St. Augustine has a bright emerald green color. Bermuda is typically a darker, leaf green. Additionally, Bermuda grass has very fine grass blades, whereas St. Augustine produces coarse, broad blades.
- St. Augustine has a characteristic “emerald green” color while Bermuda is deep green.
- St. Augustine grass blades are wide and coarse, while Bermuda grass has fine, narrow blades.
- St. Augustine seed heads are thick, paddle-like growths with seeds embedded in them.
- Bermuda grass produces tall seed heads with 4–5 thin arms bearing seeds.
- St. Augustine struggles when mowed shorter than 3 inches (7.5 cm).
- Bermuda grass thrives at heights of 1–2.5 inches (2.5–6 cm).
The seed heads that grow in your yard can help you tell what type of grass you have. St. Augustine produces thick seed heads with seeds along the edges. They resemble sesame stick snacks found in health food stores. Bermuda, on the other hand, grows tall seed heads with 4 or 5 threadlike branches. Keep in mind that these grasses have a very different appearance if you’re considering overseeding St. Augustine with Bermuda grass.
How Can You Tell the Difference Between Bermuda and Zoysia?
Zoysia typically has slightly broader blades than Bermuda grass and does not achieve quite the deep green color of Bermuda grass. However, the easiest way to tell the difference is to study how the grass performs in shaded areas. Bermuda grows poorly in shade, turning thin and spindly. Zoysia will maintain a carpet of tightly knit grass even in shade.
- Zoysia performs better when grown in shade than Bermuda grass.
- The blades of Zoysia grass are broader than Bermuda blades.
- The two types of grass have many similarities.
- Cultivation techniques for Bermuda work well for Zoysia and vice-versa.
Zoysia and Bermuda grass can be difficult to tell apart. Certain varieties of Zoysia have fine grass blades like Bermuda. Additionally, both types of grass send out long runners. The two kinds of grass are closely related and can be cultivated with similar watering, fertilizing, and mowing techniques, so you can treat Zoysia like Bermuda in most cases.
How Do You Know If You Have Bermuda Grass?
If you’re not sure if your lawn is being invaded by Bermuda or another type of grass, look for these signs:
- Fine grass blades.
- Long runners.
- A dark green color.
- Grass that does not suffer even when it is mowed extremely short.
- Seed heads with 4–5 thin tendrils.
Bermuda grass can be cultivated in your lawn, or it can be an invasive grass. If you’re not sure exactly what grass has cropped up in your yard, check for these signs. You could have Bermuda creeping into your lawn.