Last Updated on April 1, 2023 by Mattias
Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) is a fast-growing warm-season grass that often comes across as an invasive weed. Since bermuda has an aggressive growth habit, it can get out of hand and take over flower beds in your lawn. Some people regularly use pre-emergent herbicides on their lawns to prevent this devil’s grass invasion but you know what they say, sometimes you can’t be cautious enough.
If you are finding yourself in a similar situation then it’s time to get rid of bermuda grass once and for all.
Keep reading to learn how to kill bermuda grass.
How To Kill Bermuda Grass
Killing Bermuda grass can be difficult and it usually takes more than one method to accomplish this task properly. Since this grass variety is known for its toughness, the most effective method would be to use a herbicide.
You should spray the product on the grass and then strip off the dying sod. However, only doing it once won’t be enough and you’ll need to repeat the process until bermuda is completely gone. Nonselective herbicides kill any and all grass it makes contact with which is why we recommend the use of selective varieties. If this doesn’t sit right with you then there are plenty of other methods as well.
Bermuda grass is generally a desirable and popular turf grass but sometimes it can become invasive and grow despite your intentions. Tall fescue and zoysia grass lawns are most likely to get invaded by this grass but garden beds are at great risk too. Using herbicides to kill unwanted bermuda grass is a well-known method that is used by several homeowners and professionals.
However, this method is only useful in flower beds or when you want to replace the entire turf because using chemicals in a fescue or zoysia lawn can also affect other grass varieties.
Effective Methods To Kill Bermuda Grass
Herbicides will surely deliver the best results but if you have come to the conclusion that herbicide usage isn’t the right pick for you then there are other effective methods as well. Take a look below and see which one suits you the best.
Bermuda’s growing season takes place in late spring and early summer and even though it is a type of grass that thrives in high temperatures, its roots won’t typically enjoy direct sunlight. They need full sun to perform photosynthesis but they absorb that energy through their leaves.
Cultivation is a method that can be used in hot and dry weather (summer months). What you need to do is dig the soil down to 6 inches near the new growth. When the soil surface will be plowed down to that depth, roots will be exposed to the sun.
Without the soil layer to protect them, they’ll dry out and die. This might take a while so you will need to repeat the process every once in a while until the bermudagrass is fully dead.
Solarization is another method that uses heat intensity and sun rays to kill the grass. This method can only be performed when the temperature is high enough to have an effect.
You can do this by mowing/ scalping the lawn really close to the ground and placing a clear plastic sheet over it. Make sure that the sheet is fully placed on bermuda and that it fully covers the infested area. The sheet can often fly away or lose its position due to breezes that will defy the entire purpose.
You can secure it by putting heavy material on the corners or nailing it on the grass. Afterward, leave your lawn looking like that for a month or two.
The plastic will accelerate the heat’s intensity and work as a magnifying glass, forcing the unwanted Bermuda grass to burn under the sheet. Since it will have no access to water or oxygen for survival, it will eventually burn and die.
Choking out bermuda grass
Choking out bermuda grass by using natural methods is a great way of getting rid of the grass. This method is easily accomplished through mulching and you can do this with the help of landscaping fabric.
The first step is to examine the infested area on your lawn. This task requires extra attention and you should make sure to check each part of your lawn thoroughly. If you leave even a single spot out, it’ll continue spreading until your entire lawn is compromised.
Once you have done that, the next step would be to take a landscaping fabric and place it on the top layer of the affected ground. Since bermuda growth would have emerged in certain areas, you would need to cut out holes for the rest of the lawn grass.
Remember that you only need bermuda grass under the fabric and the rest of the grass should have holed fabric over it. In order to make sure that the fabric doesn’t lose its position, you should put weighty mulch, sand, or gravel over it.
Bermuda grass will be trapped underneath and it won’t grow any further meanwhile the mulch will allow your desired grass variety to grow vigorously. You should irrigate with a drip during this time to make sure that unwanted bermuda grass doesn’t receive water.
Placing the fabric improperly is a common mistake which is why you should re-check your work regularly and make sure everything is accurate. If you notice Bermuda weeds still spreading out, it’s time to monitor the fabric and look for uncovered bermuda clumps. You’d need to be patient throughout the process because if we speak generally then this natural method can take up to 2 months to kill the grassroots.
Pieces of cardboard
You can also use hard cardboard to kill the invasive grass on your lawn. Much like the landscaping fabric, the cardboard will act as a physical barrier and stop essential necessities such as sunlight from reaching the grass. Since bermuda needs lots of sunlight and water to grow actively, it will begin to weaken when those things aren’t given. Every plant needs photosynthesis to support its survival, cardboard will prevent light from ever reaching the grass which will ultimately force it to die.
Before you go ahead with the task at hand, it is highly recommended to reduce the thickness of bermuda grass so that you have a lower density to work with. You can do this by using lawnmowers or pulling visible clumps by hand.
After that, cover the bermuda infested area with compost and place cardboard on top of it. The best way to do this is by taking two large boxes, flattening them out, and placing them on top of each other. This will create a strong barrier that is impossible for bermuda to break.
Much like fabric and plastic sheets, cardboard should also be placed in the spot with the help of heavy materials such as rocks. You can also use staples to strengthen their position.
The next step might come across as a surprise, but now we need you to irrigate the lawn with a gallon of water and wet the pieces of cardboard. Once they are drenched, cover them with 3 inches of mulch and leave your lawn for 4 months.
You are extremely lucky if you have noticed Bermuda’s invasion in your lawn before it has gotten out of control. At this stage, you don’t really need chemical controls, systemic herbicides, or time-consuming practices to fix the situation.
Either you can manually pull out the new plants and grass clumps from the root or use domestic vinegar to do the job. However, remember that vinegar solution is a natural weed killer that will kill any grass it comes in contact with. It is categorized as a non-selective herbicide which means that it can kill your desired grass as well. If you want to avoid that then be careful while applying it.
How To Keep Bermuda Grass Out Of Flower Beds
Since Bermuda grass uses both its stolons (above-ground stems) and rhizomes (underground stems) to spread in your lawn, it is common for it to creep into your flower beds. Even if you do have a bermuda dominant lawn, you surely don’t want the grass to reach beyond your desired area. It can become unsightly and attractive when Bermuda takes over the entire area. Here’s how you can prevent it once and for all.
If you want to avoid this problem from occurring in your lawn, then you should make sure that flower beds have strong edges and tough boundaries. However, if the grass has already invaded, then you’d need to get more physical.
Since the grass spreads through its stolons, you need to grab the ends of it and pull it from the ground. We recommend putting force in this action and pulling the entire thing out from the direction it originally spread.
Make sure to remove the roots as well or else clumps will pop right back up after a little time. Moreover, the best approach would be to dig out the rhizomes (below-ground stems) of the bermudagrass as well because they also encourage expansion and spreading.
You can also use chemicals to kill bermuda grass in flower beds because, unlike fescue and zoysia lawns, it is actually safe to use herbicides here. If you are going to choose this method then spray a glyphosate solution thoroughly on the stolons and underground rhizomes of the grass. Make sure to target the grass you want dead and avoid spraying on your desired lawn turf.
How To Keep Bermuda Grass Out Of A Fescue Or Zoysia Lawn
Is your lawn suffering from bermuda grass invasion? You might have overseeded this grass in hopes that it will cover up the bare spots and go hand in hand with your primary grass variety. However, bermuda is one of the fastest growing warm season grasses that are quick to establish and rapid to grow. It takes little effort for Bermuda to overtake any other grass variety. Let’s see how you can prevent this from happening and recover your lawn’s originally intended appearance.
Bermudagrass control through maintenance
Fescue is a cool-season grass and if your fescue-dominated lawn has been invaded by bermuda grass weeds then adequate maintenance can get rid of it. Rather than killing the bermuda grass directly, you can force your fescue grass to choke it out. All you need to do is promote its growth by feeding suitable fertilizers and taking care of its requirements.
This will cause the grass to grow thick and tough enough to compete with the invasive bermuda weeds. You should also make sure that your fescue grass is getting the site conditions that are suitable and recommended for its growth. Furthermore, let the grass grow a little taller than the usual mowing height. Since bermuda has zero shade tolerance, it will be forced to starve and die under the fescue’s long height.
This method is less likely to work on a zoysia lawn because it is also a warm-season grass and it has the same requirements as Bermuda. Hence, if you encourage zoysia’s growth, you’ll be promoting bermuda unintentionally as well.
Bermuda grass killers
Apart from maintaining and promoting your primary species’ growth, you should also apply bermuda grass killer to make sure that the grass is completely gone. Choose a weed grass killer that kills the roots rather than just the top growth. Bermuda is a perennial grass and if its roots are left behind in your lawn, they’ll just keep coming back year after year.
Herbicides are definitely useful but there is a huge possibility that they will fail to kill the Bermuda weeds from your lawn. Instead, you should use weed grass killers that are specifically designed to kill common bermuda grass. These chemicals affect the roots, leaf blades, stolons, seed heads, and rhizomes of the plant which ensures that the grass is properly gone.
This method is also effective for zoysia lawns because certain weed killers will only target Bermuda grass and leave zoysia harmless.
How To Kill Bermuda Grass Summary
Invasion is a pretty common problem in lawns. Even though common weeds are more likely to do this, sometimes grass varieties such as common bermudagrass can do it as well. It will harass other species and gradually take over your lawn until none of the primary grass is left. As a result, you’ll be left with a lawn of bermuda grass whether you want it or not.
Killing bermuda grass is a protective measure that can often become a necessity for your lawn’s overall health and well-being. No one would want their garden area, flower beds, or fescue lawn to get invaded by a third type of grass. You may also want to kill bermuda grass in order to replace the bermuda grass lawn entirely with a different species. Either way, the choice is yours and we are here to help you do it the right way.
In this article, we discussed some of the most effective ways on how to kill bermuda grass. If you don’t do it the right way, adverse effects can occur and damage your land.
If you found this article helpful and got the answer to your question then make sure to share it with your other lawn owner friends as well.
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.