Bermuda grasses are best known for their outstanding survival features. It has this great ability to withstand even the harshest environmental conditions. Unlike other types of grasses, this kind is a tough one to beat.
Thus, its robustness may be the very reason some of us gardeners rather find it a bummer. Fret not we are to help you sort out this matter. In this article, we will present to you several techniques to help you slay bermuda grasses off your lawn. Also, we will present the best products you can buy right off the shelves.
- 1 The Nature of Bermuda Grasses
- 2 Different types of weed killers for bermuda grass
- 3 How to kill bermuda grass without the use of herbicides?
The Nature of Bermuda Grasses
Bermuda grass is otherwise known as Cynodon Dactylon by scientific name. It is native to tropical and subtropical countries anywhere in the world. In the United States, these grasses thrive best in the warm climates of the southern region.
This grass is popular because of its distinct high tolerance to heat, humidity, and salts. Moreover, the root system of the bermuda grass implants very deep into the soil. This characteristic makes it even more strenuous to pluck out. This could be the reason why other people call this the devil’s grass. Other terms may also include wiregrass, couch grass, or scutch grass.
Its strong and aggressive nature enables it to be the lawn of choice for some who prefer low maintenance. That is why you would often find this landscape in most parks, golf courses, and other sports fields.
How deep does the bermuda grass implant its root?
As we mentioned earlier, bermuda grass is famous for being deep-rooted. The question is, how deep is it?
In general, common grasses can anchor their roots deep down below the soil. Most often, it can be somewhere between 6 inches up to 24 inches, or that is about 2 feet.
But you might be quite surprised to know that bermuda grasses can bury way deeper than that. Its root system can implant as much as 72 inches or 6 feet deep into the ground. It can even go further depending on the condition of the soil.
Why is bermuda grass bad for your lawn?
The bermuda grass in itself is not a bad or harmful kind of turf. But sometimes its persistence and aggressiveness make it too overwhelming to handle.
Its intrusive nature can in no time overrun other cultivars planted in your lawn. Aside from that, it can even spread and grow towards your neighbor’s ground as well.
This grass cannot seem to contain itself and stay steady in places you wanted them to. That is how invasive they are.
Moreover, the bermuda grass also gives growers and farmers a real problem. When this turf’s seed is being mixed with other crop seeds, it can end up competing for resources.
As a matter of fact, there is a certain state in the US that bans the usage of new bermuda grasses. In the state of Utah, in particular, a set of provisions is being implemented with the use of this kind of turf. The Noxious Weed Act recognizes this grass under the “Containment” category. This law puts bermuda grasses under strict control and management.
Different types of weed killers for bermuda grass
Eradicating bermuda grasses can be quite a tricky and labor-intensive process. The manual removal of the grasses is not enough. It may still need the continuous application of herbicides for over a month or so. This will at least ensure to kill 90% to 95% of the turf.
Here are the different types of herbicides that you may use to kill bermuda grass.
A pre-emergent herbicide targets the germinating seeds of the bermuda grass. It does nothing to affect or eradicate the existing growths.
This weed killer acts by creating a barrier in the soil to inhibit the seeds from sprouting. The main goal here is to keep the barrier intact at all times. Any untoward breaks may defeat the purpose and render the treatment less effective.
In every herbicide, there are specific active ingredients that you need to look out for. For pre-emergents, these are Trifluralin, Oryzalin, and Pendimethalin. They are being formulated to destroy germinating weed seeds.
Here are our top picks for pre-emergent herbicides:
This herbicide is the complete opposite of the pre-emergent type. This targets to kill the existing growths of bermuda grass. They cannot in any way prevent new seeds from growing.
These weed killers contain active ingredients such as Sethoxydim and Pelargonic acid. The primary aim of these chemicals is to destroy the root itself of the weeds. This will ensure grasses that had already grown will no longer be able to grow back once treated.
There are herbicides available in the market that combine pre and post-emergent power. But, the success rate for such may differ as compared to target-specific formulations.
Our top picks for post-emergent herbicides:
From the word itself “non-selective”. Meaning, everything that comes into contact with this herbicide is bound for extermination. Thus, expect the death too of any plant life surrounding the area of application.
Thus, this is most suitable to use in large areas. Moreover, it is also best for spaces where the vegetation of any kind is not likely intended.
Our top picks for non-selective herbicides:
Unlike the former, selective herbicides do not eradicate everything that comes into contact. Rather, it will only kill certain types of weeds. It also leaves the rest of the desirable plant life without any damage. Thus, selective herbicides are best for spot-treatments in your lawn.
There are several active ingredients known for selective extermination. This includes chemicals such as Sethoxydim, Fluazifop, and Clethodim.
Our top picks for selective herbicides:
Contact herbicides targets to destroy any part of the weed it comes into contact with. This solution is popular for its immediate and fast-acting response. Everything that is being sprayed will immediately degenerate in a matter of a few hours or so.
The downside of this formula though is the high tendencies for the weeds to grow back. Since the chemical damages the top growth only, the root remains unaffected. Thus, it may need constant reapplication. Every couple of months may be ideal since regrowth is likely expected.
The most common active ingredient for contact herbicides is Diquat. This chemical works by disrupting the cell membrane of the bermuda grass. This in return interferes with the process of photosynthesis. Oftentimes, browning may occur within 24 hours after application.
Our top picks for contact herbicide:
The scope of the systemic herbicides is far more extensive than contact weed killers. Rather than killing the top growths only, this solution digs down through the root.
Absorption and translocation of the solution into the root system is the main goal here. Damaging the root itself kills the entire plant thus preventing its eventual regrowth. Although this may take several attempts considering how deep-rooted bermuda grasses are.
The common active ingredients used in these herbicides are Glyphosate and Glufosinate Ammonium. To be effective, there should be great consumption of the chemical by the roots. Thus, it is necessary to spray the leaves with heavy coats of the solution for better absorption.
Our top picks for systemic herbicides:
How to kill bermuda grass without the use of herbicides?
Sure, herbicides are the fastest and most convenient way to eradicate bermuda grasses. But, this also exposes you and other cultivars from the toxic chemicals. If this is your concern, there are other efficient ways to kill this weed from your garden.
- Non-toxic weed killers
This weed killer is an organic and environment-safe alternative to those commercial herbicides. Moreover, they are very inexpensive and easy to find.
Acetic acid or better known as vinegar is one of the most popular non-toxic solutions. Note though that this should be in industrial-strength to be effective. The concentration of this kind is at least 10% to 20%. Far stronger than the typical 5% you use in the kitchen.
To prepare, mix 1 gallon of vinegar with 1 ounce of liquid dish soap. Fill in a spray bottle and mist it over the affected areas in generous amounts. You can also pour over a cup or two in the soil to let the roots absorb it as well.
Inspect the area after 3 to 5 days. Repeat the process if you still see signs of new growth.
The only concern with vinegar though is that it is non-selective. It means that it can also affect other plant life it comes into contact with. So, you have to be extra careful when applying this solution to your lawn.
- Manual uprooting of the root system
This can be such a tedious process knowing how far deep bermuda grass can imbed. But, going after the root itself is the most efficient approach in terminating its growth.
To do this, it is best to mow the lawn first. Then, here is where hard labor starts, dig down into the roots one by one. Make sure proper disposal is being observed with the uprooted grass. This is to ensure that it will no longer find its way back to the ground.
This entire process may take several tries. This may continue until such time you succeed plucking out all the roots. Not one trace of it should remain.
- Block the nutrient supply of the roots
As simple as cutting off the nutrient supply of the bermuda grass can in some ways help to destroy this weed. You can start by either hand pulling the grass until it detaches from the roots. Or, you can also mow the grass the shortest possible.
Once done, you have to conceal the patches. You can use several layers of cardboard, wet newspaper, or landscaping fabric. Covering these areas will inhibit the penetration of sunlight, moisture, and nutrients. Thus, leading to the eventual death of the weed.
To further secure, you can add a protective covering or mulch on top of the cardboard or the fabric. This must be at least 5 to 6 inches thick. Let it rest for around 2 to 6 months. This should be long enough to deprive the bermuda grass of all the nutrients it needs to survive.
This technique is only applicable during the hottest summer months. This can be sometime between June to August for some places like California. Or, August to September for the coastal areas.
Moreover, you also have to ensure that the lawn is being exposed to high solar radiation. This is important because the shade will likely decrease the effectiveness of the process.
It is ideal to mow and irrigate the area first. Then, cover the entire place with a clear plastic tarp. Make sure to extend at least 2 feet more to include possible runners or stolons. Secure the placement of the tarp’s edges with bricks or stones.
Maintain the set up intact for at least 4 to 6 weeks. After such time, the bermuda grass should have wilted and dried out. You can leave it as is to decompose or rake it instead to clean up.
Nothing is a quick-fix when it comes to eliminating bermuda grasses off of your lawn. This resilient turf is one aggressive survival pro as it is. You have to put in a lot of labor and tons and tons of patience to deal with such a stubborn weed.
We hope the methods and recommendations we presented above will help you in some ways. So, don’t lose your faith yet. Remember, persistence is the key to success!