Here’s How to Achieve a Thicker, Greener Bermuda Grass Lawn

Kenneth Wilson

If you're dealing with a thin Bermuda grass– this may be due to several factors: too much shade, poor drainage, compacted soil, and a lack of nutrients. Don't fret. We're here to help you discover how to make Bermuda grass thicker and greener.

To make Bermuda grass thicker, apply adequate fertilizer with the correct ratio, mow more frequently, and ensure the turfgrass gets enough watering. If the Bermuda grass thinning is brought upon by a weed infestation, consider applying a weed killer to achieve a healthier, greener lawn. Let's discuss all the other ways you can try to make common Bermuda grass thicker.

8 Ways to Make Bermuda Grass Thicker

There is no overnight secret to achieving a thick, green Bermuda grass lawn. This all boils down to the proper care and maintenance. Here are all the methods you can try to grow and nurture your Bermuda lawn at home:

Mow the Lawn Closer

For thicker Bermuda lawns, you will need to pay more importance to your lawn mowing frequency. Mowing makes your turfgrass grow and spread laterally– instead of vertical growth.

You will need to mow slightly lower than what you're used to, somewhat lower than 1 inch. Using the right mower for your Bermuda grass will make things easier. Choose a lawn mower that promises a clean cut instead of hacking the grass. You will also need to water the turfgrass after mowing and check the current fertilizer levels to make your Bermuda lawn thicker, denser, and greener.

Overseed Accordingly to Address the Visible Bare and Thin Spots

You may also consider overseeding your thin Bermuda grass if you want to fill any visible bare spots and sparse areas. Ideally, overseed the lawn during the fall to help restore its thickness in the spring (active growth season)

Spreading grass over your existing lawn is an excellent way to help it grow thicker. Overseed with a cool-season turfgrass if the yard grows brown and bare and brown through the winter, when Bermuda lawns go dormant. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you overseed your lawn:

  • Apply a pre-emergent herbicide to eliminate weeds at least 45 to 90 days before the overseeding. Applying a weed killer a little bit too soon before the actual reseeding process may only hinder the seeds from germinating.
  • Ideally, overseed about 8 lbs. of ryegrass seeds (perennial ryegrass and annual ryegrass) per 1,000 square feet of your Bermuda lawn. Avoid overseeding with cool-season grass types which last throughout the warmer months, such as Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue.

Feed Your Lawn with 4-1-2 Fertilizer or a 16-4-8

Apply a general-purpose fertilizer, NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium), in the ratio of 4:1:2 or 16-4-8 to encourage the best growth and development of your Bermuda lawn. One significant benefit of applying fertilizer is that it stops any lawn diseases and weeds and makes your lawn more resistant to drought.

Feed your lawn with enough fertilizer in the spring and early summer to help it sprout as fast as possible.

Water the Lawn Once a Week

Drought may stress your Bermudagrass lawn, which leads to thinning. So if the turfgrass is not getting at least 1 inch of water every week in the spring to summer months, it may have slower growth and poor spreading abilities.

This will also boost the grass stolons' root development and lateral growth. We can't stress this enough– but proper irrigation will lead to deeper/more robust root growth, better nutrient absorption, and a denser Bermuda grass turf. Here are some crucial watering tips to get your Bermuda grass to thicken:

  • Increase the watering frequency to more than 1 inch per week in the scorching summer months, as this may help your lawn counter drought stress.
  • If the lawn is on sandy soil, only water at least 0.5" at a time (3 to 4 days apart) so it won't hold water for too long.
  • For grasses in clay soils, you may need water for shorter periods but more frequently. This allows the water to be absorbed deep into the root zone.
  • Water your Bermuda lawn at least once a week for long periods to draw in enough nutrients for a lush, thicker turf.

Important Note: Avoid overwatering your Bermudagrass lawn, as this may kill the turfgrass eventually or ultimately lose its rich green color.

Improve Soil Quality and pH to 5.8-7.0

If your Bermudagrass turf encounters stunted growth and ill health, it may be because of poor soil quality. pH problems can also be a culprit for thin turfgrass. You can do a soil pH test to determine if your soil has improper pH. Bermuda grass is known to grow thick and lush with a soil pH between 5.8 and 7.0. If the ground has an acidic pH, the nutrient absorption will be limited, and your grass will only grow poorly and thin out.

Neutralize the acidity of your lawn soil by applying lime regularly. Aside from the soil's pH levels, soil type may also contribute to your thinning problem. While Bermudagrass can thrive in clay soils, it tends to spread best in well-draining soils.

Apply Pre-emergent Weed Herbicide

If your Bermuda lawn is dealing with a weed problem, it's common to notice thinning and patchiness. It would be best to control pesky weeds on your turfgrass– such as crabgrass, quackgrass, and Poa annua. Doing so will help your Bermuda grass lawn become thicker and fuller in no time!

Ideally, apply a good-quality pre-emergent early in the spring, preventing the weeds from germinating and eventually choking out your Bermuda lawn. For heavy weed infestations, apply a pre-emergent once every 60 to 90 days (or 2 to 3 months).

Treat Lawn Diseases

As previously mentioned, lawn diseases such as Fungal infections may be the culprit behind your thin Bermuda lawn.

Some of the most common fungal lawn diseases are brown patch disease, dollar spot, and spring dead spot, which slows the growth of your turf and will result in thinning. This will negatively affect the development of your Bermudagrass. Bermuda decline (root rotting) is another deadly disease that leads to a thinner lawn. This condition affects the roots and only causes poor growth.

Consider Aerating the Lawn

Lastly, you may also consider aerating your Bermuda grass lawn to encourage better grass growth. This is to be ideally done during the late spring months, but it can also be done during the early summer. Once you aerate the lawn, it helps the Bermuda grass grow thicker while promoting faster growth. (Related: Aerating vs. Dethatching: Which is Better for Your Lawn?)

Pro Tip: Aeration will work better after cutting the turf short. So, trim your turfgrass short to help your lawn grow thicker in no time!

Homeowners with clay soil (or other hard soils) may want to schedule their aeration earlier to get better water penetration. This will make it easier for the irrigation to penetrate the soil deeply and help the Bermuda grass absorb all the nutrients it needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I thicken Bermuda grass?

Bermuda grass may be thickened by adequate watering and mowing methods. You may promote thick, lateral growth by providing 1–1.25 inches of water each week and trimming Bermuda grass to 0.75-inch height. More efforts are required to develop and maintain a thick Bermuda grass lawn. Plan to scalp your property in the spring if you live in an area where Bermuda grass lies dormant in the winter. Monitor soil pH in all areas, aerate Bermuda lawns, eradicate weeds using a Bermuda-friendly weed killer, and feed your grass with a slow-release fertilizer.

Will Bermuda grass fill in bare spots?

With the right circumstances, Bermuda grass can grow aggressively and spread quickly through stolons (shoots above the surface) and rhizomes (roots below the surface). Healthy Bermuda grass will usually quickly reclaim tiny dry spots left by weed removal or small-scale grass loss. Bermuda grass, on the other hand, takes longer to restore more prominent bald spots in the yard. It must gradually retake these areas from the outside in. This could take a very long time.

Why does Bermuda grass get patchy?

Patchy Bermuda grass can occur due to a variety of causes. The most prevalent reasons for patchy Bermuda are as follows:

  • A high acid level in soil: When the pH of the soil drops below 5.8, Bermuda grass struggles to grow.
  • Not enough water: Bermuda grass grows best with 1–1.25 inches (2.5–3 cm) of water each week.
  • Compacted soil: Hard-packed soil can make it difficult for Bermuda grass to absorb water and nutrients. In compacted areas, it will become patchy.
  • Not enough soil nutrients: Bermuda grass overgrows and requires fertilization to keep up with its development.
  • Fungus and grass diseases: Bermuda grass can become sickly if infected. Scalping your grass in the spring, dethatching, and aerating are essential for disease prevention.
Kenneth Wilson
June 16, 2022
2terra, Contractor Tips, Yard & Garden

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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