lawn improvement

Asked October 6, 2013, 3:47 PM EDT

I have what I think is Bermuda grass in my lawn. It is close to the ground, thick and wiry and slow spreading. It spreads along the ground on a thick, vine like structure. The 'leaves' lay flat rather then stand up like a typical grass. A stray 'vine' will appear to be loose and easy to uproot but tugging on it quickly lets you know that isn't really the case. Evidently the plant has a complex root structure that seems very deep. Can you give me any advise on how to kill this plant so that I can grow real grass? Also, can you give some resources - suggested readings, websites, people to talk to - for reference to help me improve my lawn. I have been a faithful user of Scotts 4-Step program for many years but am about to give up on it.

New Castle County Delaware

1 Response

Bermuda grass is a warm-season grass and is very difficult to eradicate. It spreads by stolons above ground and by rhizomes under ground. Because control is so difficult it would be a good idea to get a positive identification before proceeding by bringing a 4" by 4" by 2" deep sample to the UD Master Gardeners Diagnostic service at the Cooperative Extension Office 461 Wyoming Road, Newark. You can call 302-831-2667 for directions.
It is too late to eradicate Bermuda grass this fall and reseed. Avold tilling or hand pulling as this will result in stimulating growth. Chemical control is the best approach to suppressing Bermuda grass and will require several applications. If your infestation is wide-spread, consider having eradication done professionally. If it is of a size that you feel you can handle yourself, there are control products available at garden centers. Do not fertilizer your lawn in spring and summer as this will favors Bermuda grass growth. Do not fertilize your cool season grass lawn in summer at all. Cool season grasses benefit most from fertilization in the fall. In Mid-September apply 3/4 of the annual required nitrogen fertilizer and the remainder in Mid-October. Mow your lawn at 3-3.5" to thrive and help shade out the Bermuda grass. If you suspect that Bermuda grass seed is blowing in from a nearby location, use a pre-emergent herbicide to help suppress germination. (Remember that applying a pre-emergent herbicide will suppress germination of all seeds, including desirable ones.) Healthy turf is your best defense against weed infestations. See http://www.delawarelivablelawns.org/res/docs/Managing_A_Healthy_Lawn.pdf for information on managing a healthy lawn. Multiple applications of a broad spectrum herbicide such as Glyphosate will kill Bermuda grass, but it will kill all desirable plant material it contacts as well. Therefore it should be used carefully. Our Extension colleagues at Virginia Tech http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/456/456-018/Section_5_Lawn.pdf have provided the following helpful information about the use of chemical controls for Bermuda grass. " In recent years, research studies have led to selective control measures for bermudagrass in cool-season lawns. Consumer products that contain fenoxaprop or fluazifop can be used as recommended to control bermudagrass. More effective control can be achieved by mixing triclopyr (Turflon Ester contains 61.6% triclopyr and is mixed to apply 0.73 fluid ounce per gallon to treat 1000 square feet). Triclopyr should not be applied during summer on Kentucky bluegrass or hard fescue. Selective bermudagrass control requires four to eight treatments per year depending on rate. Start treating when targeted bermudagrass starts to produce shoots and leaves in late spring and treat at three to four week intervals until frost. If the product label does not allow this many treatments, supplement with another product and apply in sequence or hand weed bermudagrass during mid-summer and limit treatments to spring and fall. Lawn grasses will be temporarily injured when targeting bermudagrass with these herbicides. Delay treatment if lawn grass has not completely recovered prior to the next normally-scheduled treatment. If turfgrass injury is a concern, treat only in spring and fall and discontinue treatments during mid-summer. Do not exceed maximum use rates or number of applications specified on product labels. " When choosing chemical control products read the labels carefully and follow the instructions for use and personal safety.

You have a bit of a battle ahead of you and it may seem daunting, but with persistence and consistent treatment, in time, you can reclaim your lawn.