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Bermuda Grass Features, Planting and Care

A closeup of green Bermuda grass in a lawn.

Updated July 24, 2020

Marc M.

By Marc M.

If you need a tough lawn that can survive the hot sun and dry Southern summers, Bermuda grass may be the best turfgrass for your landscape.

What Is Bermuda Grass?

A United States map of northern cool-season, middle transitional and southern warm-season zones.

Bermuda grass is a warm-season turfgrass, meaning it grows well in the Southern parts of the country. This perennial grass is known for its ability to tolerate difficult conditions, such as heat, drought, foot traffic and even salinity. And it recovers from damage quicker than other types of grass.

In the warm-season growing periods of spring and summer, Bermuda grass can be planted by seeding or by laying sod. It’s a fast-growing, spreading grass, extending by means of runners above and below the soil. The fine- to medium-texture blades have pointed tips and are relatively wide, creating a dense, deep green carpet of grass.

Like other warm-season grasses, Bermuda grass grows during spring and summer, and turns from green to brown as it goes dormant for fall and winter. In Deep South locations with no frost, a Bermuda grass lawn may stay green through the winter. Most types of Bermuda grass are suitable for USDA plant hardiness zones 7 to 10. Learn more about cold hardiness, and determine your hardiness zone with the USDA Cold Hardiness map. While Bermuda grass is a warm-season turfgrass, some varieties can work in the transitional zone. Always check the packaging information.

Tip

Overseed Bermuda grass with ryegrass to keep the lawn green through the winter.

Is Bermuda Grass Drought Tolerant?

A hose-end rotating lawn sprinkler spraying water on a green lawn.

Bermuda grass is among the most drought-tolerant grasses. After the grass is established, it can stay green with only 1 inch to 1-1/2 inches of water per week (less than many other grass types) and handles hot, dry conditions well. It goes dormant in long periods of drought and can survive in this state for as long as four weeks. Water infrequently but deeply to encourage the root system to grow deeper, which will help the grass handle dry conditions. Sandy soils typically require more frequent watering.

When Should You Plant Bermuda Grass?

The best time to plant Bermuda grass is during spring, after the final frost. Like other warm-season grasses, the seed germinates best when the soil remains above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. As a general rule, look for air temperatures that remain above 80 degrees during the day.

Where Does Bermuda Grass Grow Best?

Bermuda grass prefers soil that’s slightly acidic (a pH from about 6 to 7), but it can tolerate some levels of alkaline soil. Test the soil to determine its pH. Bermuda grass also needs well-draining soil. Take a look at Test and Improve Your Soil and our Soil and Soil Amendments Guide for tips on establishing the best soil for your lawn.

Bermuda grass requires full sun to grow well. If you have shady areas, look for shade-tolerant plants to supplement your lawn. There are warm-season grasses that tolerate shade better, but they may not work well alongside a Bermuda lawn. Read Grow Grass in the Shade to see some options.

Is Caring for Bermuda Grass Difficult?

A man mowing a sunny lawn with a gray Honda push mower.

Bermuda grass typically requires more attention than other turfgrasses, but the lawn care tasks are relatively basic. Because of its quick-growing nature and relatively low recommended mowing height (1 inch to 2 inches), you may need to fertilize monthly and mow as often as twice a week during the peak growing season. Read Lawn Mowing Tips to learn how to mow your lawn correctly and keep it healthy. Quick growth can also lead to thatch buildup. See Remove and Prevent Lawn Thatch to learn how to make sure your lawn is getting the air, water and food it needs. Finally, you’ll need to maintain the borders of a Bermuda lawn. If left to grow on its own, Bermuda grass can invade planting beds and walkways.

Good to Know

Some of the key features of Bermuda grass — tolerance for heat and drought, the fact that it repairs quickly and a low mowing height — make some varieties popular choices for golf courses and athletic fields in Southern regions.

How Much Grass Seed Do You Need?

The amount of Bermuda grass seed you need depends on several factors, including whether you’re seeding a new lawn or overseeding an existing lawn. The seed bag should indicate coverage estimates and spreading rates. In general:

A chart estimating how much Bermuda grass seed you need for several lawn sizes.

Use our Grass Seed Calculator to quickly estimate how much grass seed is needed for your lawn size, and look at Seed Your Lawn for step-by-step instructions on seeding a new lawn or overseeding an existing lawn.

Tip

In addition to bags of grass seed, you can find Bermuda lawn repair mixes that include seed, lawn fertilizer and mulch.

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