Last Updated on March 5, 2023 by Mattias
No one likes a patchy and thin lawn. In fact, the reason why many of you choose bermuda grass in the first place is that this warm-season grass promises to form a thick and dense turf.
The question is whether your usually dense-looking bermuda lawn has started getting thinner. If yes, then this is your cue to pay attention.
If you are wondering how to make bermuda grass thicker, then you’d be glad to know that some easy tips and techniques can be followed.
You have come to the right place because we have listed some of the most potent methods below. Keep reading this article to learn all about them.
How To Make Bermuda Grass Thicker?
Mow Your Lawn
Mowing is the ultimate key to a thick lawn, and even though this technique will work on all grass types, your bermuda grass is particularly responsive to it. You may not know this, but Bermuda grass’s vertical growth is the most probable reason behind your lawn’s thin and scarce appearance.
Mowing helps establish a thick lawn by encouraging the grass to grow laterally wide rather than vertically. This will fill in the bare patches and make your lawn look fuller.
The tip here is to set your mower at just below 1.5 inches. This may be slightly lower than your usual mowing preference, but it’s effective. In fact, one of the reasons why golf courses and professional fields look so thick is that they are mowed closer to the ground. You’ll need a sharp and adequate mower for this job that’ll make a clean cut and fulfill the purpose of this entire practice. Reel mowers and rotary mowers are recommended.
Apart from mowing closer to the ground, frequent mowing will ensure a thick lawn. This promotes faster, thicker, and healthy growth of the grass.
Summer months are the best time to fertilize your bermuda lawn because it is a warm-season grass variety that thrives in spring and early summer. Since these months are the active growing season for Bermuda grass, using fertilizer will surely push dense growth.
Another good time to apply fertilizer is 3 weeks after the grass turns green. Remember that before applying fertilizers, you need to ensure the grass is thinning because of a lack of minerals.
The most effective way to get the right fertilizer is by performing a soil test beforehand. A test will determine the ratios of (NPK) nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that suit your lawn, and then you can buy the best fertilizer. A ratio of 4:1:2 in 16-4-8 fertilizer is the most promising proportion to encourage Bermuda’s faster growth.
People often wonder how much fertilizer to apply. The answer is quite simple. Suppose your soil needs 0.5 lb of nitrogen. You can’t apply 0.5 lb of fertilizer because it includes the other two elements. You will divide 50 by the first number on the fertilizer bag, and it will give you your answer.
Grass usually thins during drought conditions so applying fertilizer will ensure that your lawn is strong enough to stay lush green and withstand the harsh conditions.
Don’t fertilize the bermudagrass lawn in fall or winter because the grass is dormant.
Watering the lawn is a mandatory practice that should be performed despite your lawn’s condition. However, this necessity can also be adjusted and used to grow a thicker lawn. As you must know, your bermuda grass doesn’t need frequent watering, but it does appreciate deep and generous amounts. Watering your lawn once every 5-10 days is recommended, but if we speak typically, 1 inch of water per week will be more than enough to encourage greener and thicker growth.
Your lawn’s water needs may differ based on the soil type. For example, clay soil needs less water than sandy soil, and you should consider this factor because you don’t want to risk overwatering.
You must be wondering how water helps with thin grass. Well, sometimes drought conditions end up being the main reason behind the thinning of grass and the patchy appearance of your lawn. As you know, late spring and summer are hot seasons, and the insufficient water supply during these months hinders grass’s root system from functioning properly, and its thick growth gets compromised.
Don’t worry because it’s easily fixable if a lack of water is behind your grass’s thin growth. You need to water your lawn deeply and let it recover. The grass will recover from that stress and return to its usual denser self in little time, and all you need to do after that is regulate a suitable watering schedule.
Tip: it is a general rule of thumb to soak your bermudagrass lawn rather than just showering it with water. Focus your watering medium towards the roots and water until ¼ of the soil is soaked. You can use a rain gauge to measure the amount for you.
Treat the weeds
Soil has limited nutrients, so when weeds invade your lawn, your bermuda grass has to fight them for the essential nutrients. In doing so, the grass loses its thick appearance and suffers from stress. Furthermore, weeds grow aggressively, invading other grass species in your lawn and stopping it from looking dense.
In simple words, Weed infestation is a type of problem that should be solved before it even occurs, so it’s recommended to get ahead of them by using pre-emergent herbicides. Make sure to use the right one, or else your bermuda grass is at risk of discoloration, stunted growth, and even death.
You can prevent weeds such as crabgrass, quackgrass, and poa annua by applying herbicide in spring. This season is the right time because weeds mainly germinate during this period so when you use herbicide early in the season, you’ll be able to kill the weeds before they get out of control and afflict your thick Bermuda grass lawn.
Applying herbicides during hot months is definitely not a good idea because they can cause adverse effects on the grass’s growth and development. Instead, you should apply a pre-emergent herbicide during mid-February and early March so that you won’t have to worry about it in hotter months.
As a general precaution, you should avoid applying a weed killer during June, July, and August because these months have a typical temperature of over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Consider applying pre-emergent herbicide at least 2-3 times yearly to ensure a healthy, weed-free lawn.
When killing pre-existent or actively growing weeds such as knotweed and white clover, you can apply post-emergent herbicide on the affected area, which will surely do the job.
Aerate the lawn
As you may have heard, soil compaction makes it difficult for roots to grow deeper and hinders their ability to absorb nutrients from the surface. When this happens, your lawn grass becomes weak and vulnerable to various infections.
Aeration is the process of punching holes in the soil’s surface so that air, nutrients, and water can reach the roots properly. When you remove compacted soil plugs from the surface, your grass can breathe. It is often recommended to aerate the lawn in spring but doing it as soon as the grass turns green will ensure thick and dense growth. Aeration is important because it establishes a highly drought-resistant lawn with a deeper root system.
The best time to aerate the lawn is after scalping. Lucky for you, it also aids the grass in recovering from the effects of poor drainage and soil compaction.
Tip: never aerate the lawn after applying pre-emergent herbicides
Dethatch the lawn
Thatch is the layer of decomposed material and dead plant tissue that often collects on the top surface of the soil. Dethatching is just as important as aerating because the thatch layer prevents the grass from properly receiving water, air, sunlight, and nutrients. Thatch forms a thick layer and stunts the growth; meanwhile, the lack of essential resources for the roots causes them to weaken and produce a thin turf.
You can use a vertical mower with a sharp blade to detach your lawn, and the best time to do it is right after dormancy.
Treat lawn diseases
Lawn diseases are one of the most common reasons for thin bermuda grass. If you want to learn how to make bermuda grass thicker, we assure you that the best results will occur once you properly solve this problem.
Diseases and infections such as brown patch disease, dollar spot, and spring dead spot have a high likelihood of thinning your grass and affecting its growth. In case you didn’t know, spring spot is a disease that mostly occurs because of nitrogen over-application. It starts in the fall but only begins showing signs in spring. You might be able to notice it in the form of small patches, but as time passes, it will take over large areas and affect the development of the entire area.
However, root rot is a bermudagrass lawn’s most fatal fungal infection. It usually happens as a result of overwatering and gradually suffocates your grassroots. It is also known as bermuda decline for this very reason, and if left neglected, it can not only thin your lawn but kill it too.
To solve this problem, consider applying a high-quality fungicide to your lawn. Your bermuda grass lawn is less prone to insects because it grows quickly, but you can definitely apply insecticides to be on the safe side.
Fact: Japanese beetles and white grubs are lawn insects that can cause your grass to thin out.
Why Is Your Bermuda Grass Lawn Getting Thinner?
Your grass may be thinning out for several reasons, but the most common is thatch buildup. As your soil becomes hard or compacted, it becomes hard for essentials such as oxygen, air, water, and nutrients to pass through. When the grass’s roots don’t receive these necessary elements, its growth starts to get affected and thins out. Remember that skimpy topsoil gets compacted easily, so you must take precautions to avoid that.
Also, drought conditions, lack of fertilizer, improper fertilizer, too much shade, drought conditions, insects, and fungal diseases can cause your bermuda grass to thin out.
By following the above-listed tips, you can ensure the damage isn’t permanent.
Does Shade Make Bermuda Grass Thinner?
Most grass needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight; it can bear partial shade when that amount is fulfilled. However, that’s not the case with your bermuda grass at all. This grass species has zero tolerance for shade, and It needs full sun and direct sunlight to grow properly. When those requirements are not fulfilled, the growth gets affected, and the grass becomes thinner.
Your bermuda grass could be shaded because of trees, shrubs, buildings, and other landscape elements, so if your lawn is getting thinner, you may want to consider these factors.
Reducing these structures and exposing your grass to direct sunlight will fix the problem, and your grass will grow thicker. Furthermore, consider pruning trees from the landscape and removing any other furniture blocking the light.
How To Make Bermuda Grass Thicker Summary
Every lawn owner wishes for a green, healthy, and lush lawn. A thin and patchy lawn is unsightly and represents low maintenance and lack of attention. Bermuda grass is famously known for establishing a dense turf, but as discussed above, some factors can cause the grass to grow thinner.
This article discussed the most effective tips and simple steps to help you understand how to make bermuda grass thicker. These tips are not only easy to follow, but they have several other side benefits as well. To sum it up, we can say that the best way to ensure a thick bermuda grass lawn is by fixing the problems that caused it in the first place.
For instance, apply more fertilizers if inadequate fertilizers are behind thin grass. The same should be implemented on other problems; hopefully, you’ll have a dense landscape all year.
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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.