Bermuda grass is vigorous and more vibrant than most grass species like fescue. It is resistant to conditions such as drought, heat, and snow and this is why you will find Bermuda grass growing even when other grass species go into dormancy during winter.
Bermuda grass spreads through seeds and a vigorous root system that has rhizomes. When allowed to grow alongside other grass species, Bermuda grass will overgrow it and by the time you realize it, it will have overtaken the whole lawn.
Removing Bermuda grass can be very challenging because of the widespread root system and the rhizomes. The process needs proper planning that entails killing the plant and the removal of the root system.
There are several ways of getting rid of unwanted plant species from your lawn. You can use chemical herbicides for faster results but you will have affected the pH level of your soil and endangered the other lives downstream.
If you are conscious of the welfare of our environment, you can kill Bermuda grass in your lawn naturally by solarizing, hand pulling, or depriving it of essential supplies like water and light. These methods are also applicable in controlling weeds without killing grass.
How do you kill Bermuda grass naturally?
We all have a responsibility to take care of our environment, failure to which we and our descendants will live to pay consequences. Killing Bermuda grass does not have to involve any harm to the environment.
Besides, the use of chemical herbicides contributes to the high acidity in your lawn soils and this makes it hard for other grass types to grow. You can kill Bermuda grass naturally by:
1. Hand pulling
This is the best and most recommended method of killing Bermuda grass naturally. It does not in any way interfere with the atmosphere or the soil. It works by selectively getting rid of the Bermuda grass, but only when it has not spread so much on the lawn.
To hand-pull Bermuda grass, begin by watering the lawn to soften the soil. Then hold the grass plants by the stem and pull them up. At the same time, use a hand trowel to scoop the root system of the Bermuda grass.
The removal of the root system prevents the return of the grass after its removal. Fill the bare spot of the lawn with healthy grass sod or seed.
Another great natural method of killing Bermuda grass is by solarizing it. It involves the use of a plastic sheet and direct sunlight. The plastic sheet acts as a magnifying lens, making the sun’s rays so intense to roast the grass.
The heat kills the cells in the Bermuda grass plant and the grass starts wilting and turning brown before it eventually dies. The only issue with this method is that it is not selective and is only applicable when the grass has overtaken larger parts of the lawn.
But when the grass is growing alongside other plants, then the method is perfect because you will just cut some holes on the sheet to allow your plants to sprout on the surface.
After the grass has completely dried, dig it up and plant a healthy grass sod on the bare part of the lawn.
Another great method of killing Bermuda grass naturally is by burning it with the use of a heat gun. It is very selective and this means it deals with the weed directly, without interfering with the other healthy grasses.
To effectively kill the grass, bring the fire flame close to the grass plant to prevent burning other grasses. The intense heat produced by the heat gun kills the cells in the plant thus killing it.
Scoop the root system of Bermuda grass with the use of a hand trowel and fill the bare spots with healthy grass seeds or sod. When burning Bermuda grass to kill it be careful not to torch your entire lawn, especially during drought season.
4. Smothering the base
Smothering the base of the Bermuda grass works by depriving the grass of essential nutrients, water, and sunlight. At the end of it all, the Bermuda grass withers and eventually dies, thus encouraging the growth of other better and healthy grass species.
Use old cardboard panels to smother the base of the Bermuda grass to kill it. To prevent leaving any part uncovered, ensure to overlap the cardboard. The grass should be dead within a week or two and then you can tender to the healthy grass species you want on your lawn.
This method too is only applicable if the Bermuda grass has spread far and wide.
5. Chocking with landscaping fabric
Although slower than solarizing, chocking Bermuda grass with a landscaping fabric is still a great way of killing it. Start by mowing the grass so short but do not be tempted to use the grass clippings anywhere on the lawn.
Mowing the grass short prevents uneven bumps under the fabric. Spread the fabric carefully while overlapping the edges to prevent leaving out any space uncovered. The fabric works by preventing the grass underneath from accessing air, and other essential nutrients hence it dies within a week or two.
Dig up the root system and discard them in a waste container. This method too comes with a disadvantage; it is not selective and can only be used where the grass has spread widely.
How do you keep Bermuda grass from spreading?
If not dealt with at its onset, Bermuda grass can spread so quickly and fast and overtake the lawn within no time. So now the trick lies in preventing its spreading.
1. Increasing shade
You can let your overhanging trees and plants continue growing. Even though Bermuda grass is vigorous and tougher than most grass species, it will not withstand too much shade because just like other grasses, it needs sunlight for survival.
2. Dry cultivating
The summertime is usually a season of intense heat that is ideal for killing Bermuda grass. Cultivate the grass more often to bring out the rhizomes so that they can be burnt by the intense heat. Then avoid watering the grass at all and this will eventually curb the spread of the grass.
3. Consistent removal
The secret to preventing the spread of Bermuda grass is by preventing its growth in the first place. You do this by consistently removing the grass from your lawn the moment you first spot it.
What grass will take over Bermuda?
The secret to having a healthy greener and thicker lawn lies in choosing the right grass species. This is because some grass species like fescue and Zoysia are very weak and will not withstand stiff competition from Bermuda grass.
But some grass species like St. Augustine and centipede are a bit more resistant to harsh climatic conditions. These will withstand heat and therefore outgrow Bermuda grass when allowed to grow on the same lawn.
But that does not mean that they do not need care; without appropriate lawn care, even the toughest grass species will be overtaken by Bermuda grass if not properly tended to.
With this in mind, normalize mowing and watering your grass more often. Also, treat the lawn with pests and disease herbicides and feed the soil with fertilizers.