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Everything You Need to Know About Bermuda Grass

Mar 9, 2016 | 0 comments

A grass that every Australian would have walked over in their lifetime, Bermuda is a stalwart of backyards, sporting fields nationwide and the fastest growing grass in the world. Often referred to by its more common name of Couch (pronounced cooch), Bermuda became one of Australia’s prime grass choices for many excellent reasons.

Originally an Indian/African plains grass, Bermuda came to prominence as a domestic grass after being transported on slave ships from Bermuda (hence the name) to North America, where gardeners and sports clubs soon worked out that when it came to surviving and thriving in warm season conditions, Bermuda is nearly unbeatable.

A warm-season grass that seems custom-made for the Australian climate. Bermuda has a bright green/purple tipped blade that has previously had a reputation of not being the softest underfoot. Bermuda grass cut height is 1 to 2 inches. More recent breeds have been softer and softer, making them a more child-friendly option.

A favorite of Australian golf courses and suburban lawns, let’s look at what makes Bermuda Couch tick.

a-golf-course-with-bermuda-grass

Pros

The key feature of the Bermuda Couch is its hardiness. The grass has a system of roots that is particularly extensive, giving it the best chance of getting through tough conditions. Due to the make-up of the roots, extended periods of drought or waterlogging can be survived. While these conditions can make the grass brown off, a decent rain will generally bring it out of its dormant state and back to its normal vibrant coloring.

This hardiness extends to other areas too. It isn’t hugely fussed by soil quality or type and can successfully grow in almost anything; the sandy soils of a coastline, the clay soils of farming areas, alkaline, acid, or soils with high salinity. Bermuda will always have a dig and do its best to grow (to a point, obviously). Ensuring the grass has decent drainage and access to a healthy source of nutrients – fertilizing if needed – will be all the grass needs to get by in all but the most extreme of soil conditions.

Unlike most grass varieties, Bermuda Couch has runners that spread above ground (called stolons) and below ground (rhizomes). This makes the grass a particularly aggressive spreader, and any bare patches you may have from your initial sowing of seed will more often than not be quickly filled in without needing a second sow.

Cons

The main drawback of Bermuda Couch is also one of its key strengths. It is a terrific spreader, but if you don’t keep an eye on its movements, that may come to the detriment of the other plants in your garden. Ensuring that you border off any areas in your backyard that you want to keep grass free – flower beds, vegie patches – is vital, as any areas with open soil will quickly be encroached upon.

If you have let the turf have free reign in your backyard, the hardiness of the grass can also become a negative. Getting rid of unwanted Bermuda Couch can be a task. You’ll need to let the grass grow out for a few weeks – the more blade to soak up herbicide, the better – and within a7-10 days of herbicide application, you should start to see the grass dying off. You will probably need to reapply the herbicide once or twice every couple weeks. New shoots could form because those underground rhizomes may not be affected by just one application. Bermudagrass seed heads can also appear due to stress, normally lasting 2 to 4 weeks.

Bermudagrass mites can typically begin eating as temperatures rise in the spring and bermudagrass emerges from dormancy. Early damage indicators appear when the stem length between plant nodes shortens, leaving little room between leaves and buds.

Growing Your Lawn

When choosing Bermuda Couch for your patch, there are a few things to remember when planting.

Bermuda Couch is a warm-season grass, and while it’s hardy. It won’t live up to its potential in Tasmania and Southern Victoria.

You’ll want to sow the bermudagrass seeds when you have a good stretch of 25+ degree weather. For more temperate areas of Australia, this will mean summer sowing. You’ll need just 10g of seed per square metre, meaning a lawn of 100sqm will require just 1kg of seed.

For a hardy strain of Bermuda Couch that is still beautiful and soft underfoot, try McKays’ Pure Sahara Bermuda Couch.

FAQs

1. What’s the difference between Bermudagrass and St. Augustine grass?

Bermudagrass leaf blades range in color from medium to dark green. It has thin leaf blades that spread horizontally and link together to form a dense, lush lawn. It is drought and heat-tolerant; nevertheless, it becomes dormant rapidly in cool temperatures and has poor shade tolerance. The growth rate is vigorous since it spreads swiftly above and below ground; frequent mowing is required.

While St. Augustine is a light to a medium green that fades quickly in the winter, it has coarse leaves with broad, rounded blades at the tip. St. Augustine cannot endure cool temperatures or foot traffic, but it tolerates excessive heat, moisture, and shade reasonably well. It spreads quickly and crowds out most weeds and grasses; it grows best in full sun or mild shade.

2. Where does Bermudagrass grow best?

Bermudagrass is a warm-season perennial plant that thrives in tropical and subtropical regions. Bermuda grass thrives in locations with full, direct sunlight and sufficient drainage. It flourishes in warm climates such as tropical, subtropical, and transition zones such as the southern United States, South America, Australia, and Africa.

3. What are the benefits of Bermudagrass?

The benefits of Bermuda grass can be seen in its aggressive growth, excellent heat tolerance, resistance to heavy foot traffic, and superior drought tolerance.

4. Is Bermuda a good grass for lawns?

Bermuda grass seeds are a good option for a healthy, expanding lawn. Furthermore, its dense nature makes it resistant to weeds, which will struggle to find space to develop in Bermuda grass. Weeds are still conceivable, but because of the thickness of the Bermuda grass, they are easier to spot and remove.

5. What climate does Bermudagrass grow best in?

Bermuda grass grows best in warm climates such as tropical, subtropical, and transition zones such as the southern United States, South America, Australia, and Africa.

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