Spring Transition to Bermuda Grass

Traci Baker

CareScape is our contract landscape provider. They have provided this informative reminder for us regarding grass during the spring transition:

Transition time is upon us. When nighttime temperatures reach the mid-60s, the Bermuda grass, which has been dormant all year, begins to wake up. As daytime temperatures reach into the 90s, the winter rye begins to decline. During this transition, there is competition between Bermuda and the rye for both space and water. The problem has developed in the last 10 years. Many of the rye grasses sold have a much better heat tolerance. They last long into the summer and tolerate close mowing and scalping to some extent. The rye grass gradually becomes less competitive with increased humidity and night temperatures.

Here are the steps that CareScape will take to help with the transition:

* We will begin by lowering mowing heights for 2-3 cycles until we reach the normal height of Bermuda. This helps to reduce shade over Bermuda grass.

* We also decrease water 20% for one week and then begin to irrigate normally. It is important to not let the lawn dry out completely.

* We will fertilize to encourage Bermuda with nitrogen and phosphorus and again with nitrogen once Bermuda is actively growing.

* If necessary, we will follow with a light verti-cutting to stress rye grass. We also may need to aerate to reduce compaction and create space in the soil. This removes organic matter and allows air and water to penetrate the soil better. In some cases, we need to dethatch to remove excess organic material.

The rye grass will begin to turn yellow and a dry brown as we progress into this transition. This is normal and will improve as the Bermuda grass fills in. Recently installed sod often takes additional care and initial root establishment of Bermuda is slower.

There are four basic elements of healthy turf: sunlight, air, water management, and nutrients.

CareScape will give your turf the proper care and culture it needs and ensure these four things are in balance. By early summer, you will have a very healthy stand of grass and your summer lawn should be beautiful.