Last Updated on April 6, 2023 by Mattias
Bermuda is a warm season grass that is undoubtedly an excellent choice for lawn turfs and professional uses. Bermuda’s ability to establish a dense turf in a short time frame makes it popular among people. This grass has hardy characteristics and is highly adaptable to various soil types and site conditions.
These advantages must have been selling points that attracted you in the first place. However, even this seemingly perfect grass has some problems. Keep reading to learn what they are and how you can solve them.
Bermuda Grass Problems
Bermuda grass is vulnerable to several problems. Some might come in the form of diseases, while others are deficiencies. It is important to look out for these problems so you can take precautionary measures and protect your lawn.
Bermuda grass is one of the most drought-tolerant warm-season grasses out there. Unlike drought resistance which means that your grass will look good under drought conditions and maintain its color, drought tolerance means it will simply survive. When it is the dry time of the year, and there is a lack of water for your lawn, this grass will go dormant rather than die. Bermuda grass will preserve its energy and use it towards survival rather than active growth. Once the harsh conditions are over, it will gradually recover with your proper care.
Furthermore, bermuda grass needs at least an inch of water per week during its peak growing season, so when that supply stops, so will Bermuda’s growth. Your grass will look lifeless during this time but remember that this doesn’t mean that your grass is dead.
Symptoms of drought stress
- Dry-crispy leaf blades
- Bermuda grass will turn brown
- Grass doesn’t bounce back quickly after damage
- Leaf blades are noticeably brittle
- Grass will start thinning
- Bermuda grass will lose color
- Footprints will remain imprinted on the surface
- Leaf blades will begin folding
Treatment options for drought stress
Once you notice that your bermuda grass is under drought stress, certain rules and methods must be followed. Firstly, you need to ensure no other diseases afflict your lawn. Look out for chinch bugs or grub damage in your lawn, and if you identify them, solve that problem before getting to drought stress.
Afterward, water the grass as generously as possible. We would recommend watering the grass infrequently but deeply. This means that even though you can put gaps in between watering schedules, whenever you water the grass, do it with a generous amount. You should water drought-affected bermuda grass at least 2-3 times weekly.
Some other precautions will include taking extra care of the mowing height. Don’t mow too low, as it can damage the grass greatly, and ensure your mower blade is sharp. Remove any thatch from the top layer of soil and prevent soil compaction at all costs
Dollar spot (Claireedia homoeocarpa) is one of the most common lawn fungus diseases for Bermuda grass, and it can afflict your lawn during late spring and early summer. They are called dollar spot diseases because the spots are the size of a silver dollar.
A dollar spot is most likely to occur when daytime temperatures are warm but nighttime is cooler. The humidity in the air encourages this disease, and your grass blades develop unsightly colored spots. Remember that when your medium soil is dry and lacks the essential nitrogen, it is more vulnerable to dollar spot disease than ever. This disease starts by causing small spots to appear on your leaf blades 2-6 inches in diameter, but when your lawn is heavily infested, the spots will merge and appear as one.
Symptoms of dollar spot disease
- Reddish margins appear to be tan spots ranging between 2-6 inches in diameter
- Grass blades will appear bleached
- Sunken-straw-colored patches peppered across the lawn
- Spots will merge and form strange-looking patterns
- Dollar spots attract moisture which will cause the blades to appear water soaked
- Brownish and purple edges
- Moisture can be seen in the morning in the form of a silver cob-web like coating
- Large infected areas in case of heavy infestation
Treatment options for dollar spot disease
As mentioned, lawns with low nitrogen levels are most vulnerable to dollar spot diseases. The best way to treat this disease would be by performing a soil test and incorporating the required amount of nitrogen in the lawn soil. Apart from that, prevent thatch buildup on the soil’s top surface by regularly removing excess material. Mow the grass at 1 – 1.5 inches to ensure the lawn’s health.
You can also apply fungicides such as propiconazole, triadimefon, and boscalid to speed up recovery, but remember that they wouldn’t cure the lawn alone. If you combine fungicide application with proper lawn care, the effects will double up, and persistent dollar spot disease will be solved.
One of the most common problems in bermudagrass is its tolerance to shade or, more correctly, the lack of it. Bermuda is a warm-season grass that thrives in warmer climates. It can tolerate high temperatures and stand in direct sunlight for hours without ever getting affected, but this grass will instantly back out when it comes to shade.
Your bermuda needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day, and when the required amount isn’t supplied, adverse effects occur. In simple terms, when the grass stays in the shade for long periods, the dew settles on its blades and becomes vulnerable to diseases such as fungal infections and other root problems.
Symptoms of shade problems
- Thinning of grass blades
- Bare spots on the surface
- More room for weed infestation
- Shaded parts of the lawn will start turning bald
- Elongated leaves and stems
Treatment options for shade problems
No one likes a patchy lawn which is why the most effective way to help your shade-effected bermuda grass is by solving the problem directly. Firstly, you need to remove long shrubs and trees from around the grass so that the bermuda can receive direct sunlight. Since mowing improves the grass’s ability to capture sunlight, we recommend mowing slightly higher than the recommended height.
Furthermore, you must remember that your grass is already suffering during this time and doesn’t have the energy to tolerate heavy use. You can help it by reducing the foot traffic and giving it time to recover properly.
Another way to help the grass is by encouraging its toughness. A good way to do that is by applying nitrogen-based fertilizers. They increase Bermuda’s tolerance to shade and help its growth. However, excess nitrogen is dangerous, and it can cause your lawn to burn off.
The best way to avoid this is by planting a few plugs in the desired area before going all in. You can think of it as an experiment, and if the plugs don’t do well, it will indicate that that area is unsuitable for your bermuda grass.
If your grass already suffers from shade problems, then you can follow the abovementioned methods. By doing so, your grass’s growth and performance will improve significantly.
Large patch disease
Large patch disease, also called brown patch, is caused by the fungal pathogen Rhizoctonia. It is one of the most common diseases in warm-season grasses, and it causes your lawn to develop an unpleasant appearance from bermuda and centipede to zoysia and st. Augustine, all grasses are vulnerable to this disease. It often comes across with severe effects and damages your lawn regarding appearance and growth.
As summer months approach and the grass begins to green up, the weather tends to be wet during this time period. If the water stays on the grass for prolonged periods, the likelihood of brown patch disease will increase greatly. Also, humidity, overwatering, poor drainage, nighttime watering, thatch build-up, and low soil ph encourage this disease.
As said above, wet weather is a main attraction, so you can say that this disease is most likely to occur in spring and fall.
As the name suggests, brown patch disease causes bermuda grass leaves to thin out and turn brown. It will start with minimal growth, but as the heat intensifies, the small brown spots will become large patches and cover your lawn in unsightly patterns.
Symptoms of large patch disease
- Brown-colored circular patches
- Dead patches of yellow color on your lawn that may range from mere inches to several feet
- Small brown patches merge and appear as one large patch
- Unusual patterns on your lawn
- Donut-looking patterns because of green middle and circular brown patches around it.
- Rotten leaves
- You’ll be able to pull grass plugs without any resistance
- Leaf sheaths near the soil surface will appear to be soaked
Treatment options for large patch disease
This is a severe disease that needs immediate attention, and if it’s left unattended for a long time, the damage will be unrepairable. The good news is that if you identify large patch disease on time and ensure proper lawn care, the grass will recover quickly
It’s always important to look out for symptoms before getting to a conclusion because people often confuse brown patch disease with dormancy and neglect it.
Once you identify the large patch of disease in your lawn, you can treat it by taking care of it, adjusting the water supply, and following some precautionary measures. Firstly, we will recommend you adopt a suitable watering schedule.
When you water the grass during the evening or nighttime, water doesn’t dry off properly and remains on the grass for straight hours. As mentioned above, wet grass is one of the most common causes of large patch disease, so you definitely want to avoid it. You should water your bermuda grass in the early morning so that the water will have plenty of time to dry off before the sun sets down. It is also recommended to water your Bermuda grass infrequently but deeply. This will encourage a deep root system and give the grass time to dry.
Furthermore, mow the grass at the right height. Mowing too high will increase the risk of large patch disease, and mowing too low will increase its intensity. The ideal height for common bermudagrass is 1-2 inches, so remember that.
Lastly, use a dethatcher to prevent excessive thatch build-up, aerate the soil to encourage better circulation, use suitable fungicides, conduct soil tests and adjust the pH level of your soil. Lime can be used to increase ph levels.
Your bermuda grass needs adequate nutrients to grow properly, and when that’s not given, the grass goes under severe stress. Nutrient deficiency can occur at any time of the year, but it is most likely to afflict your lawn during late spring and early summer when weather conditions are extremely hot. Where insect and fungal diseases appear in small spots, iron and nitrogen deficiencies directly cover large sections of your lawn.
Chlorophyll helps the grass with photosynthesis and accelerates its ability to absorb sunlight properly. Iron is necessary for your bermuda grass because it aids chlorophyll production and encourages the bright green color. When the grass doesn’t receive its essential nutrient supply, chlorophyll production gets affected, and your grass turns yellow.
You can distinguish iron deficiency from nitrogen deficiency by examining the grass blade. A lack of iron will appear as a strike of green on a yellow blade, but a lack of nitrogen will turn the entire grass blade into a solid yellow color.
Symptoms of nutrient deficiency
- Rolled or flooded leaves
- The tips will appear burned
- Leaf margins will have necrotic spots
- Yellowing of leaves
- Leaf spots of abnormal colors
- Older leaves will start getting affected first
Treatment options for nutrient deficiency
There is only one way to correct the nutrient deficiency in your bermuda grass. You can buy soil tests from your local gardening store or have a laboratory test the lawn soil. Once the reports are back, you should closely examine the results and buy suitable fertilizers. If your bermuda grass lawn is low on nitrogen, apply an NPK fertilizer that is high in nitrogen, and if your lawn is low on iron, then apply an iron-based fertilizer.
You can incorporate both of these nutrients together as well.
Nutrient-rich fertilizers will help in the short term, but if you wish to stabilize the problem once and for all, then make sure to mulch organic matter on the grass occasionally. Compost and manure will deliver the best results.
Spring dead spot
Spring dead spot is a disease in bermuda grass due to one or two infections. It is one of the most common turfgrass diseases, usually during fall and winter. Spring dead spot is a severe fungus that damages Bermuda grass’s roots, rhizomes, and stolons. Spring dead spots can be categorized as soil-dwelling fungi that cause the attacked part of the grass to turn brown or black. Since the grass is already dormant when this disease hits, it can be difficult to identify it until it’s too late.
One thing about the spring dead spot is that instead of killing the grass directly, it gradually affects Bermuda’s growth, performance, and toughness. It damages the plant to the extent that it becomes more vulnerable to freezing temperatures.
If you suspect the infestation of a spring dead spot in your bermuda lawn but can’t figure out its dormancy, then there is a simple way to check. What you’re going to do is pull a few plugs out and examine the rhizomes and stolons carefully. If they appear rotted to you, the grass is most certainly infected.
Symptoms of spring dead spot disease
- Circular areas of rotted grass
- The grass will fail to turn green in early spring
- Dark spots will be visible on stolons
- Patches of bleached dead grass
- Patches will range from 6 to 12 inches in diameter
Treatment options for spring dead spot disease
This disease is most likely to hit lawns that are high on nitrogen levels and have a ph above 6.2. You can treat it by performing soil tests and examining the primary problem. Once you know how soil fertility should be adjusted, you can ensure a balanced regime.
If your lawn has a history of spring dead spot disease or if you suspect it now, you’ll need to dethatch and aerate the lawn as soon as spring arrives. Removing thatch or using core aeration when the disease is still active will encourage it to spread more.
Last, avoid applying nitrogen-based fertilizer in the fall because the grass will go dormant soon after that, and your lawn will become more susceptible to this disease. You can also use fungicides such as myclobutanil to ensure your lawn doesn’t get attacked in the first place. This is one of the most effective precautionary measures, and we recommend applying it one month before the grass goes dormant.
Lawn rust is another fungal disease common in Bermuda grass fields. This disease will most likely infect your lawn when moisture or dew builds up. Watering the grass deeply usually takes about 6-8 hours of direct sunlight until the grass dries out. If the sunlight gets interrupted or the sun sets down, the water remains on the grass for a prolonged period, and fungi are attracted.
Lawn rust is most likely to hit your lawn during the months when days are bright and hot and the nights are relatively cool. Humidity and leaf wetness strongly encourage lawn rust as well. You can say that these conditions mainly occur in late summer and early fall. The soil medium will be low on nitrogen, and the weather will usually be dry during this period. These seasons are dangerous for your bermudagrass lawn because both these factors collectively encourage the growth of fungi and rust in your lawn. This disease will start with minimum damage, but gradually, the effects will get more severe, and your lawn will thin out.
Symptoms of lawn rust disease
- Small yellow spots that will slowly turn orange
- Yellow leaf specks
- Your shoes will be covered in reddish-brown dust after a walk around the yard
- Fungal spores will resemble rust on the metal
- Rusty patches will cover your lawn in strange patterns
- The field will look like bronze
- When you touch the pustules, they will rupture and release a rusty dust
Treatment options for lawn rust disease
When it comes to treating lawn rust disease, there are plenty of ways you can do it. The most effective method to reduce lawn rust is maintaining soil fertility and adjusting nitrogen levels. You can do this by conducting soil tests and applying adequate nitrogen-rich fertilizers on your lawn.
Using fertilizer is most certainly the best way, but apart from that, you should establish regular use of a dethatcher and ensure the soil isn’t compacted. Once the decomposed material is removed, the grass will receive sunlight properly, and the blades will dry off on time.
Long grass increases the risk of leaf wetness, so frequent mowing is highly recommended. Use appropriate fungicides to solve lawn rust but remember to follow the instructions properly. However, fungicides are unsafe if your bermuda field has livestock.
Speaking of livestock, If your bermuda field has them, remove the heavy canopy and reduce moisture retention by grazing.
Bermuda Grass Problems Summary
This article discussed some of the most common bermuda grass problems. Even though this grass is extremely tough, some diseases can attack it nonetheless and cause severe damage to its growth. To avoid severe damage, it’s important to always watch for unusual symptoms. We explained the early signs and indicators that’ll help you identify these diseases and the best treatment options to solve the problem.
We also talked about the factors that make your grass susceptible to these diseases, the probable time frame in which each disease will hit, what causes it in the first place, and how it will affect your lawn. By knowing these explicit details about your grass’s problems, you can take better care and prevent long-term damage.
We hope this article helped you understand bermuda grass problems in detail. Follow the tips listed above and maintain a healthy lawn.
Meet Mattias Jonsson, the head of content at RainSaucers. Passionate about gardening and water-related topics, he’s dedicated to providing expert information and resources to help improve your home, health, and wallet. Learn from his research and experience.