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When to Plant Bermuda Grass Seed

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The Best Time & Temperature for Planting Bermuda Grass

The BEST time to plant Bermuda Grass Seed is in late spring / early summer after soil temperatures are 65-70+ degrees or higher and all danger of freeze or frost is past. This generally takes 80°+ consistent day highs in temperatures to achieve this level of temperature in the soil. Sufficient moisture must be available during establishment.

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Bermuda is a warm season grass and should generally NOT be planted in late fall. It loves hot weather and grows best when temperatures are 90-100 degrees. Thus hot weather / summer months are excellent for fast germination of Bermuda seed, provided that sufficient water is available to keep the soil moist. Early spring plantings may be slow to germinate until soil temperatures warm sufficiently. Planting outside the correct soil temperature window of time is always more risky.

In the fall the turf grass rule of thumb is that Bermuda should not be planted after mid August... AND it should not be planted later than 90 days before first expected frost in more Northern states or 60 days before first expected frost / freeze in more deep-south Southern locations. Again, keep in mind that when temperatures at night are 60 or lower that the growth establishment activity of this grass slows or stops. In areas where low temperatures do not occur it may be planted year round (Hawaii, Caribbean, South Florida).

Risk of late plantings

Bermuda seeds planted too late in the year, runs the risk of not producing and storing enough food reserves to last through the winter dormancy period. Basically the plants starve and then die because not enough growth occurs after planting to store the needed food in the root system. Dormancy is not a complete stopping of activity, so even when dormant the plant still needs nutrients and water to survive.

Dormant Winter Seeding

Occasionally if late fall planting is absolutely required, you can attempt the more risky planting method using the dormant seeding method in late fall. In most cases it is recommended that you use Un-hulled seeds.  Most of the new seeded varieties are only sold as hulled seed and thus should not be planted in the fall. Read more about Dormant Seeding of grass seed here below.

Some people do what is called winter " dormant seeding" .. In this method they wait until after cool weather arrives and there is no danger of the temperatures returning above 60-65 degrees. They then plant the seeds and expect that the seeds will lie dormant in the soil until warm temperatures return in the spring. Germination then occurs in the Spring after soil temperatures rise above 65 ° F.

While this procedure does work in some cases, it is much more risky than waiting until spring to plant your seeds. Seeds lying in the soil over the winter run the risk of premature germination during a warm snap and then death upon return of cold weather. They also can experience rot (and death) if there is an extended period of wet weather. Thus it is a gamble to plant this way, but one that is sometimes done simply because a person may not want to wait till spring to plant.

Bermuda Plugs, Sprigs and Sod:

Plugs, Sprigs and Sod will not produce roots unless the soil temperature exceeds 55° F for several weeks. Keep this in mind when deciding on when to sprig, plug or sod a warm season grass such as Bermuda. In addition, even though a grass may be dormant in the winter, it still requires a certain amount of water to survive. Dormancy does NOT mean dead, simply that activities have slowed much as we humans slow during sleep.


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Overseeding Bermuda Grass With Ryegrass

It is common practice to overseed bermuda lawns with ryegrass in the fall/winter to maintain a green lawn after the bermuda goes dormant (in the cooler areas of adaptation) and turns brown. In general planting ryegrass during the initial establishment of your bermuda grass in the fall, increases the risk to the Bermuda seeds & seedlings becoming established in the following spring. Any grass that is already growing in a lawn area such as a ryegrass is competition to the little seedlings when they start germination --- which means that some seedlings will not survive the competition from the ryegrass (or weeds) once they germinate. Most all turf experts recommend that you DO NOT OVERSEED WITH RYEGRASS during the first fall / winter season after planting Bermuda. Allow your Bermuda time to establish and mature before overseeding with a ryegrass for winter color.

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