Bermuda grass tough to eliminate

One of the lawns in our townhome complex has patches of Bermuda grass. How do you recommend that we get rid of it? Can it be spread into another lawn across a driveway?

­­— Paul

Bermuda grass is one of the toughest weeds to get rid of, but it can be done. It’s a perennial, living from year to year, growing, spreading and taking over more of your lawn. It can spread by seed, but I think most of the time it’s spread by pieces of the runners hitchhiking on lawn mowers, dogs and cats, birds and even us. A small, short piece of runner can root and become a plague in no time.

The only reliable way to get rid of it is to kill the entire lawn where the Bermuda grass has invaded, then replant the lawn. That’s the difficult choice you have to make — kill off the lawn where the Bermuda grass is or resign yourself to having a Bermuda grass lawn in time. There’s really no middle ground. This grass is a lot more aggressive than our regular lawn grasses and will crowd out your lawn grasses except in shady areas.

Control requires some persistence and timing. You’ll want to spray the grass with multiple applications of Hi-Yield Kill-Zall. Kill-Zall is only absorbed into the plant through green foliage, and since Bermuda grass often doesn’t start greening up until May, you have to wait until the plant has started to grow vigorously before beginning treatment.

Actually, the herbicide works better when the Bermuda grass is actively growing, so give the plant ample water before you start spraying — the idea is to have the nicest, lushest Bermuda grass in town and then zap it!

You should figure on three or four sprays spaced at two-week intervals. The first two sprays will cover the general area, the third and fourth will be spot sprays to kill off any stubborn patches. Cover the foliage of the plant thoroughly, but don’t soak the ground with the spray; remember that the herbicide is only absorbed through the foliage, not through roots.

It’s a good idea to continue to water the lawn during this time as well. Don’t water for a day or two after you spray so you don’t wash it off of the foliage, but other than that, water the lawn as if nothing was happening. This has two advantages.

First, it encourages any live Bermuda grass that managed to dodge your spray to sprout and show itself. You want that because you can spray it and kill it.

The second advantage is that the dead grass will start to break down if you’re watering regularly, and when it’s all dead and you’re ready to replant the lawn a couple of months down the road, you can just rototill in the dead grass.

In recent years, a new product has come out, Bayer Bermuda Grass Control, which purports to control Bermuda grass without killing your lawn. This is a slow, long-term approach. You have to plan on spraying it during the late spring and summer. Apply it four times a year at one-month intervals for at least two years.

The feedback we’ve gotten is that in most cases the Bermuda grass is pushed back and contained, but not eradicated. Now, containing and holding it may be sufficient for you, or you can use it to shrink the size of the infestation so you can kill the smaller area off with Kill-Zall.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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