how to make bermuda grass thicker

How to Make Bermuda Grass Thicker and Fuller

A lawn that isn’t lush, thick and green can totally ruin the appearance of your garden. While Bermuda grass is a popular choice, it will struggle if you don’t provide it with the right conditions. If you’ve been wondering how to green up Bermuda grass then we’ve got some great tips for you. 

You will need to make sure that you mow the lawn around once a week to a lower height as this will encourage lateral spread. Also ensure a solid watering schedule and ensure proper fertilization using a 4-1-2 fertilizer. 

If you create a reliable lawn care schedule and stick to it then this is one of the best ways to make Bermuda grass thicker. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to do. 

Bermuda grass will struggle in various conditions. If there is a lot of shade, the soil is too compacted or not well drained then this can cause problems. When thinking about how to make Bermuda grass thicker, these are some of the most important things you can include in your schedule.

1. Overseed To Fill Bare Spots

Sometimes, you may notice that some areas of your lawn are bare or patchy. One of the most effective ways to overcome this problem is by overseeding the area. Make sure that you do this at the right time of year; for Bermuda grass this is in the fall. Over the course of this season, the lawn will be able to thicken up ready for spring when it will actively grow.

Not only will overseeding Bermuda grass mean that the lawn becomes thicker but it will also appear greener and healthier. However, if you notice that the lawn turns very brown and bare when the weather gets cooler, it’s a good idea to use a cool season grass for overseeding the Bermuda grass. While you can use Bermuda grass seeds, these won’t germinate until spring as the temperature is optimal. Otherwise, the grass will become dormant over winter.

Make sure to use a pre-emergent herbicide to take care of any weeds before overseeding. This should be applied between 45 and 90 days before you intend to overseed. Doing those things too close together can affect how well the seeds germinate.

Generally speaking, you will need around 8lbs of grass seeds for every 1000 square feet. This is especially true if you are using ryegrass which is great for mixing with Bermuda grass as it’ll really thicken things up.

2. Mow At 1-1.5 Inches High

When it comes to mowing your lawn, you need to be pretty strict as veering away from the recommendations for Bermuda grass can mean it doesn’t get as thick as you would like. You’ll need to set your mower’s cutting height to around 1 ½ inches as this will stop vertical growth but encourage the grass to grow laterally. As a result, any bare spots will be filled in.

Growing Bermuda grass can be challenging as naturally, this grass is inclined to grow upwards and it can get up to 12 inches if you don’t regularly mow it. This is why we need to encourage that alteral growth and get the lawn looking fuller and thicker.

But it is essential that you don’t go over the top and mow the lawn too low. Doing this means you may end up scalping the lawn which can cause damage. You can go as low as ½ inch for Bermuda grass but most people would agree that 1 inch is the absolute minimum.

3. Use A 4-1-2 Fertilizer For The Lawn

When spring comes around and well into summer, you’ve got a really good chance to boost your Bermuda grass through the use of fertilizer. You’ll need to make sure that you provide the right amount of fertilizer if you want your Bermuda grass to grow as thick and quickly as possible.

Before you do anything, you should do a soil test which will tell you which nutrients are lowest. Using a general purpose fertilizer is normally perfect for Bermuda grass. Anything with a 4-1-2 ratio will work well but you can go for 16-4-8 as well if you need to.

The great thing about 4-1-2 fertilizer is that it has a good balance of the three most important nutrients for plant growth. Not only this, but these products will help your Bermuda grass to repel disease and make it more tolerant to things like weeds and drought. Since Bermuda grass usually starts to thin out when it becomes dehydrated as a result of drought, a good fertilizer should help to stop this.

4. Water The Lawn Once Per Week

As we have just mentioned, drought isn’t good for Bermuda grass and this will cause it to become much more sparse. For this reason, you will need to make sure that the lawn gets at least an inch of water every week. This applies throughout the spring and summer. If not, you will find that the Bermuda grass doesn’t spread well and grows much more slowly.

If you want the most lush, thick Bermuda grass then you will need to make sure that you add an inch of water each week. This will boost the roots and help to encourage lateral growth. In the summer, you may need to water a little more, especially if the weather is particularly hot and dry.

bermuda grass

The type of soil you have will also impact how you water the Bermuda grass. For sandy soils it is best to use ½ inch of water and do this more frequently; around every three to five days. However, if the soil is clay based then you should allow plenty of time for the moisture to absorb into the soil. It’s better to water more but less frequently than to keep adding water to the grass every day.

Also make sure that you don’t overwater your Bermuda grass as this can also cause problems. Most commonly, you will notice that the grass isn’t as green and in the worst cases, it can kill the grass entirely.

5. Dethatch And Aerate The Lawn

When growing Bermuda grass, the last thing you want is compacted soil. This is because compacted soil makes it much more difficult for oxygen to circulate which can result in nutrients and water not being able to get to the roots as easily.

When this happens, the lawn may become sparse and patchy. However, by aerating the lawn, you will boost the oxygen, water and nutrient flow to the roots resulting in a healthy and thicker lawn.

You’ll also need to dethatch the lawn during summer as a build up of thatch can make it difficult for water to get to the roots. Anything more than ½ inch should be removed as a matter of urgency.

bermuda grass aerate

6. Control Weeds

If there are weeds on the lawn the Bermuda grass isn’t going to get the first pick of the water and nutrients. In fact, the grass will simply be competing against the weeds for nutrients and oftentimes, it doesn’t win and the weeds take over.

If there are a lot of weeds then you’ll find it incredibly difficult to get your Bermuda grass to thrive so it’s essential that you remove these. Some of the most problematic weeds for Bermuda grass are things like clumping tall fescue and crabgrass.

Apply A Pre-Emergent Herbicide

In the fight against weeds, you will need to work in stages. The first is to use a pre-emergent herbicide. You will do this as the Bermuda grass comes out of its dormant phase which is at the beginning of spring. By doing this, you will prevent any seeds from germinating.

Most grassy weeds will come out at the same time each spring but if you don’t do anything about them before this, then they’ll already start to harm your Bermuda grass. Pre-emergent herbicides are so important at the beginning of the season if you want to target weeds before they germinate.

If you have serious problems then it is OK to continue applying pre-emergent herbicide every 60 to 90 days to control any recurring seeds.

Apply A Post-Emergent Herbicide

Even after you have tackled weed seeds in the early spring, your work is not done. You will then need to make sure that you stay on top of weed control. If you don’t then you’ll just end up with a thin, patchy and attractive lawn.

This time, you will need to use a post-emergent herbicide which will help to control things like quackgrass and crabgrass. If these weeds are not allowed to grow then your Bermuda grass will get all of the nutrients and will start to look a lot thicker and greener.

One thing to keep in mind is that you should not use spray weed killers on your lawn if the temperature exceeds 90 degrees fahrenheit.

How To Fix Patchy Bermuda Grass Areas

You might notice that your Bermuda grass develops brown patches or becomes sparse in some areas. The reason for this is usually that you haven’t watered the grass enough or the quality of the soil is not conducive with a healthy lawn. However, that doesn’t mean that all is lost for your Bermuda grass and there are some things you can do to bring it back to life.

For starters, you will need to check your watering schedule. Remember that we said Bermuda grass needs around an inch of water a week? If it isn’t getting this then one of the first things you’ll need to do is to adjust your watering schedule. As long as the grass isn’t completely dead, this should restore it.

Fertilizing your lawn is one of the best ways to promote healthy growth so if you haven’t done this in a while then this is likely why your lawn has gone patchy. Follow the tips for fertilization we talked about earlier in this guide.

You should also check the soil pH level. If this is any lower than 5.8 then these conditions are suitable for Bermuda grass so you will need to think about adding a little lime to the soil to alter the pH so that it is less acidic.

Finally, if you have tried all of the above steps and your lawn remains patchy, it might be a case of overseeding. The seeds will fill in any gaps and have your lawn looking full and thick.

Final Thoughts

Bermuda grass is a type of grass that’s favored by homeowners for its hardiness to warm weather. However, this grass can become sparse and thin if it isn’t properly taken care of. If you want Bermuda grass to thrive and remain thick and luscious then you will need a proper maintenance schedule.

This includes using suitable fertilizers, watering the grass regularly and mowing it to the right height. Once you do these things, you should notice vast improvements in the thickness of your Bermuda grass.

Further Reading

Andrew Fisher

Andrew Fisher

Andrew is a dedicated father of three who really takes pride in his lawn and garden. You'll find Andrew behind the scenes of almost everything Edge Your Lawn produces. When he's not helping readers find all the information they need, he's in his backyard working on his lawn and garden landscaping. This year he hopes to build an outdoor deck and sort out his veg patches.

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