Bermuda Grass Weed Control
This page will take you step by step through the procedure of controlling or eliminating weeds from Bermuda grass lawns. However, note that Bermuda grass itself can be a weed for flower beds or other grasses because of its own aggressive nature. If you are looking for guidelines to eliminate Bermuda grass that itself acts as weed, then go through Eradicating unwanted Bermuda Grass from your lawn
So, how to control or remove those weeds that affect healthy spread of Bermuda grass? Bermuda grass weeds can be controlled mainly by two ways:
1) By preventing the weed seeds from germinating and emerging, and
2) By killing weeds that already exist.
I recommend that you understand the Types of weeds that affect Bermuda Grass
before you prepare to control them, because the control process largely depends on the types of Bermuda grass weeds you are dealing with. Generally bare or thin areas are the ideal places for weeds to spread. Here are the steps that you should follow to control the weeds in Bermuda grass:
Step-I: Consistently follow the best practices
Firstly, follow the best practices of maintaining Bermuda grass lawns on an on-going basis so that possibility of weeds affecting the Bermuda lawn is minimized. Ensure the following consistently:
1. Properly fertilize the lawn,
2. Properly water the lawn, and
3. Mow at the correct height and frequency (Common Bermuda grass should be between 1 and 2 inches in height. Hybrids should be within 1.5 inches).
Step-II: Mechanical removal of grass weeds
Weeds can be controlled mechanically, specially those weeds that can not tolerate frequent mowing. So by increasing the mowing frequency and keeping the Bermuda grass at correct height, you can limit the development of such weeds.
Control of weeds by hand pulling is also quite effective for annual weeds. But it is not effective for most perennial weeds. And the process is also quite time consuming. Also note that hand pulling and digging process will generally work only for new weeds when they first appear in a lawn. Hand pulling is not effective for weeds that have already spread out vigorously.
Cultivated land should be smoothed out with a disk harrow to destroy germinating weed seeds. During the growing stage, regular grazing or mowing may help to remove the weeds from cultivated lands. But if the grass is not 6-8 inches in height during spring, the first grazing should not be done.
Step-III: Using herbicides or weed killers
Another measure is to use the Bermuda grass weed killers or herbicides to control the weeds. The weed killers which are applied before the weeds emerge are called Pre-emergent weed killers and those after the weeds have emerged are called Post-emergent weed killers. These weed seeds are usually carried by animals, water or through lawnmowers.
Pre-emergent weed killers should be ideally applied 2 weeks prior to germination. There can be several different types of chemicals used as weed killers. The chemical differs based on different kind of weed seed and their reaction time. There are several pre-emergent herbicide products available in the market. One such example is Crabgrass Preventers to eradicate common crabgrass weeds.
While the crabgrass weeds in this case will germinate, but the pre-emergent herbicide will prevent them from sprouting or emerging. You should note that timing of application is extremely important for the herbicide to work effectively. Crabgrass weeds start appearing in May in the north of the US and earlier in the south. So early spring would be a good time to apply this pre-emergent herbicide. An organic substitute of a pre-emergent chemical is Corn Gluten.
Note that pre-emergent herbicides need to be watered in and you should apply the herbicide in the entire lawn because weeds can invade any area of the lawn.
Both annual and perennial weeds that have already emerged, can be controlled by post-emergent herbicides as well. Although post-emergent weed control is possible, but the use of pre-emergent herbicides during spring (or fall depending on the weed type) is always recommended.
The post-emergent chemicals are generally used early in the summer when weeds are actively growing. But be careful while applying such weed killers. It is important to know the application rates, timing, and Bermuda grass types for effective weed control.
Some examples of post-emergents are Roundup QuickPro (non-selective with 73.3% glyphosate and 2.9% diquat), Drive XLR8 Herbicide Crabgrass Killer (selective post-emergent for eradicating crabgrass and several other common weeds), SedgeHammer Herbicide (selective for eliminating nutsedge), Roundup Pro Max (non-selective with 48.7% glyphosate for quick weed control) etc.
Herbicides cannot be used on every kind of grass. Before use of any weed killer, you should follow the product label for safe and effective use. As I mentioned earlier, it is also important to know the weed type before using the chemical. Otherwise you may end up killing the entire lawn.
For example, if you use grass killer chemical on a Bermuda hybrid lawn
where there is crabgrass or nutsedge, it might kill any grass it contacts. The information of the herbicides application will be available on the label of container or packets.
Go through Bermuda Grass Weed Killers
to know about the different post and pre-emergent herbicides and their application methods to remove the weeds from Bermuda Grass.
Guidelines to apply herbicides by month
March - May
Apply pre-emergent herbicides to control crabgrass in late February or early March. Apply post-emergent herbicides in May to control annual and perennial broadleaf weeds such as knotweed, spurge and lespedeza.
Products that have two or three broadleaf herbicides usually control several different broadleaf weeds in a lawn more effectively. Before applying, make sure the product is labeled for use on Bermuda grass. Apply post-emergent herbicides only when weeds are present. Apply broadleaf herbicides three weeks after the lawn becomes green to avoid damaging the Bermuda grass.
June - August
Apply post-emergent herbicides to control annual and perennial broadleaf weeds such as knotweed, spurge and lespedeza. Weeds like crabgrass, dallisgrass, annual sedges and sandbur can be controlled with MSMA. In order to control crabgrass and sedges effectively, you need to apply MSMA twice at an interval of 5 to 7 days. Dallisgrass requires five applications of MSMA in 5 to 7 day intervals.
Apply these herbicides only when weeds are present on the soil and when the grass is actively growing and not suffering from drought.
September - November
Apply pre-emergent or post-emergent herbicides to control annual and perennial broadleaf weeds like chickweed and henbit. Note that Pre-emergent herbicides will not be able to control existing weeds. They will only control emergence of new weeds.
Apply post-emergent herbicides only when weeds are present. Do not apply herbicides to control annual bluegrass if the lawn is to be overseeded with ryegrass.
December - February
Apply broadleaf herbicides to control weed such as spurweed, chickweed, henbit and hop clover. Apply post-emergent herbicides only when weeds are present. Selective herbicides like atrazine and simazine can be applied in November or December in lawns that are not overseeded to control annual bluegrass and several winter annual broadleaf weeds such as henbit.
2) Check out Bermuda Grass
for a complete guide on Bermuda Grass and Lawn Care.
Viewers' Reviews and Comments
Josh (June 2019)
You state that "if grass is not 6-8 inches in height during spring, the first grazing should not be done" but earlier you state that Bermuda should be no more than 2". Can you please clarify? Thank you.
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) June 2019
Hello, grass height of up to 2" is applicable for lawns while the reference to 6-8" in the article is made for Bermuda grass on cultivated lands where grazing could be done for additional benefit of weed removal. In cultivated lands, grazing should be ideally done when the grass is 6-8 inches tall and the cattle should be moved out of the land area once the Bermuda grass reaches a height of 3-4". I agree that I need to better word the paragraph to clarify the matter. Thank you for pointing this out.
Lillian Butterfield (July 2018)
In Bermuda Grass Weed Control you state "In order to control crabgrass and sedges effectively, you need to apply MSMA twice at an interval of 5 to 7 days." Question: what is MSMA? Thank you for your information. Very helpful!
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) July 2018
Hi, MSMA stands for Monosodium Methanearsonate. It's a type of post-emergent herbicide which should be used in warm season for selective control of crabgrass, dallisgrass etc. There are various products for MSMA in the market (an example is MSMA Target 6 Plus herbicide).