It’s that time of the year when the ground temperature is constantly dropping and you’re not sure when your lawn grass will go dormant. So, when does Bermuda grass go dormant?
Bermuda grass will definitely go dormant when the temperature of the soil drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.8 degrees Celsius) consistently for an extended period of time. This phenomenon usually happens during colder months of the year.
When does Bermuda Grass go Dormant?
Grass dormancy is a gradual process that is triggered by cooler temperatures, shorter daylight hours and overnights of frost. It normally starts to happen in the fall in areas that receive cooler temperatures.
Bermuda grass will start to change color from green to brown as it enters winter dormancy. This usually happens when the daytime ground temperature is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.8 degrees Celsius) consistently for an extended period of time.
Bermuda grass is a warm-season grass that is among USDA zone 8 to 10 plants. For instance, if you live in areas like Southern California, Colorado, Maryland, Georgia, Arizona or Delaware, your grass may not go dormant unless under extraordinary conditions. These areas receive warm temperatures throughout the year.
Temperatures are cooler on the Gulf Coat in the month of December and January. Bermuda grass will go dormant during this period. The dormancy period may set in between November and march on the Atlantic coast.
In the early fall, Bermuda grass will prepare itself for the dormant winter season ahead. It will store energy in the roots to help it go through the stresses of the cold winter season.
Bermuda grass can also go into a semi-dormant state when weather conditions are too dry. The grass will maintain its green color but stop growing. The rhizomes on the roots can also lose 50% of their weight when they are not receiving enough water. Be sure to water your grass in extended dry conditions.
How to know if Bermuda grass is Dormant
It is essential to know if Bermuda grass is dormant. It helps in adjusting the lawn’s maintenance schedule. How to care for an actively growing grass may vary as to when it’s dormant. Here are the tell-tale signs that indicate Bermuda grass is dormant:
1. Bermuda grass begins to change color to brown
A gradual change of color from lush green to brown is the first indication to show Bermuda grass is entering dormancy. The grass will brown gradually from the top of the blades downwards.
The upper half of the leaves may change colour to brown while the rest of the plant is still green. The lower leaves that are insulated may also maintain the green color during the initial dormancy process.
The whole grass plant will change its color to brown when fully dormant. During this period it may appear dead. However, you should not worry if the change in color is a result of low temperatures and not lack of water. The grass will come back to life when the temperature warms up.
2. The grass stops growing
Bermuda grass will stop growing when the ground temperature is around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius). The grass will start to conserve its energy in the roots as it prepares to enter dormancy. During this period the grass will only use little energy to survive and not thrive.
3. Try the tug test
Pulling a section of Bermuda grass can determine if it’s dormant or dead. If the grass feels hard to pull from the ground, it simply means it’s dormant. The roots are still active and anchored strongly into the soil. On the other hand, if the grass feels spongy to touch and pulls out of the soil with ease, it’s unfortunate that it may be dead.
How long does Bermuda Stay in Dormancy?
Spring is when Bermuda grass turns green. The grass will start to come out of dormancy when the ground temperature rises above 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) consistently and when there is no more frost overnight.
The dormancy period may vary from a few weeks to several months depending on your region. Bermuda grass dormancy in frost-free climate regions may take only a few weeks to green up.
Bermuda grass roots, stolon and rhizomes will return to vigorous growth rate when the ground temperature rises above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. However, Bermuda being a warm-season grass requires soil temperatures of about 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) for best growth.
In cooler climate regions with long winter periods, Bermuda grass will take a few months to come out of dormancy. The grass will remain dormant until spring when the average day and night temperature rises above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) consistently for several days.
Bermuda grass will start to regain its green color as soon as it begins to sprout in the early spring. It usually takes 2 to 4 weeks for green grass color to cover your lawn again. The increasing temperature and daytime light encourage vigorous grass growth.
Most warm-season grass like Bermuda goes through 3 stages to recover fully from dormancy. They include revival, emergence and fully regrown. The revival stage is triggered by warm temperatures, sufficient light and the absence of frost.
The roots emerge to direct energy into blade production. Within a few weeks, the grass will be fully regrown. Also check, how to make Bermuda grass thicker and fuller.
Should you cut Dormant Bermuda Grass?
Mowing grass appropriately helps to develop deep root growth and promote increased density. In the long run, it helps the grass overcome environmental stresses such as tough weather conditions, weeds, pests and diseases.
When winter season is offing, prepare your grass for dormancy. Give it a final mow and allow it to grow to the recommended height prior to dormancy. Bag the grass clipping and rake your lawn before it enters dormancy. The grass should be tall enough prior to dormancy.
Avoid mowing your grass once it has entered into a dormant state. The grass is already stressed due to bad weather conditions. Mowing will add more stress that can damage roots and cause the grass to die.
Early in the spring, your grass will begin to revive when temperatures are warming up. To encourage green growth, the grass will require fertilizer and frequent watering in the growing season.
If the grass has completely recovered from the dormancy and looks healthy, you can now mow it to a suitable height.
Bermuda grass will start to prepare for dormancy in the fall when the soil temperature begins to drop. The grass will store energy in the roots to help it go through the stresses of winter. It will enter into dormancy when the ground temperature is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The grass will remain dormant until when the temperature will warm up again.
- Clemson University Cooperative Extension: BERMUDAGRASS YEARLY MAINTENANCE PROGRAM
- Texas Cooperative Extension: Spring Transition in Bermuda grass
- Dougherty County Cooperative Extension: Bermuda