Many homeowners in older neighborhoods have seeded their lawns with common bermudagrass to fix areas or to establish new lawns.  Now they have realize they can’t seem to get rid of it when they want to.  This is one of the most difficult grasses to eradicate, but I am going to tell you a way that will save some of the pain and help reduce the problem.  I use the phase reduce the problem because without soil sterilization it is next to impossible to completely remove all of the bermudagrass seeds and roots that have been established in the soil.  Common bermudagrass is a deep rooting grass that can send a root system down 12-16 inches into the soil and often goes unnoticed until your new hybrid lawn has been put in and is being watered to grow it in. 

Golf courses and landscapers don’t have the option to use soil sterilants, but they are still available to homeowners.  This is an expensive procedure and there are other ways to achieve your desired goal without the expense.  It is important to start by talking a little bit about Round-Up or other glyphosate products.  These are products that are sprayed on weeds or grass and are taken up by the plant and translocated down through the root system killing the plant.  They have zero residual activity and will only kill what is presently growing.  So spraying Round-Up on the ground will not prevent additional grasses or weeds from coming up in that area.  In fact you can actually seed right after the Round-Up is dry because it has no effect once it hits the soil.  Round-Up and glyphosate products are non selective herbicides and should not be applied to any areas you are hoping to keep alive.  You cannot spray them on the middle of your lawn and expect not to kill the grass completely.  They also should not be used to form rings around trees or to keep grass away from the wall as they will run and you will get kill in areas you were not wanting.

Now to renovating your lawn from common bermuda to a hybrid bermudagrass.  This is a slow and tedious process so don’t expect any instant results, but achieving a good kill is quite possible.  What I am going to describe will also work for areas that have nutsedge or crabgrass taking over the yard.  As I previously stated you can only kill what is present so making the weeds or grasses as healthy as possible is the first step.  You will treat your lawn just like it is a “grow in” and water 1-2 cycles per day and let everything grow up.  Once the grass is mature and actively growing is the best time to get an application of Round-Up over the entire area.  It may help to put a dye in the tank so you can see where you have sprayed so everything is covered.  There is no need to exceed the label rate as they have been carefully calculated to get the best kill with the least amount of chemical.  You can expect with the nice warm temperatures to see total death of the lawn after 7 days.  After the lawn has died it is a good time to come in and sod cut out the existing lawn and get it prepared for the next step. 

Next, water 1-2 times daily for a week and let all the weed seeds in the soil start to grow and reestablish themselves so you can spray it out again.  Any weeds that have grown up spray out with Round-Up and then repeat the watering step again for another week.  You will need to do this three times total and you’re looking at about a month to completely transition it out. 

What makes this so difficult is that common bermudagrass seed heads and roots are not sterile and are often buried deep into the soil and raise their ugly heads as you keep watering.  Hopefully three applications will take care of your common bermudagrass, but if you still are getting more coming up and the Round-Up is not completely working, you may have to resort to digging the roots out with a shovel. 

When you are confident that the grasses or weeds have been completely killed and no new grasses are coming up when you water, you can start the soil prep process.  You can check out the old blogs on soil prep for what to do next and what grass is best for your situation. 

Good luck with this difficult problem and keep in mind you may not be able to keep it all out of your new lawn but it is possible to get very good results. 

Tip of the week: 

You should pay extra attention to your watering times during the humid times of the year because your grass does not lose the same amount of water to evaporation that it would on a dry arid day.  We will see days with high humidity over the next month and it will keep moisture in the lawn longer allowing you to space out your watering cycles.  If you are lucky enough to get some rain make sure the irrigation system is turned off completely and give your lawn a couple extra days in between watering cycles so you can save water.  Your grass does not need to be watered until you are seeing some signs of wilt so waiting a little while on a established lawn will only strengthen your root system over time.

Please review my older blogs for more information on making your lawn the best on the block!