We are at the end of March and your winter lawn may still look beautiful, but it’s time to start thinking about transitioning from winter lawn to Bermuda grass. Letting your rye lawn grow unchecked until the warm June temperatures kill it off, can damage your Bermuda grass and leave bare spots in your yard. Evening temps in Phoenix are still cool enough at night that you have a few weeks before you need to get to work. Once the nighttime lows consistently rise above 65 degrees, it’s time to think Bermuda. This will most likely happen mid to late April.
To-do list for transitioning from winter lawn to Bermuda grass:
- Once the nights warm up, start to cut back on your watering by 80%. This waters your Bermuda grass, but encourages the rye grass to go away.
- As temperatures begin to rise, it’s also a good time to apply a weed killer pre-emergent to nab those weeds before they pop up. Pre-emergents stop seeds from germinating and turning into weeds. Pre-emergents can be applied directly onto lawns and around plants, shrubs, and succulents, as well as onto landscaping rocks/gravel. The rule of thumb is to apply pre-emergents twice a year, but it can be done more often.
- Lightly verticut your grass to let the sunshine in (cue music). You need sunshine to reach the Bermuda grass growing below the rye. Verticutting is vertical mowing; it breaks up the layer of dead stems and roots that forms between the grass and soil. This allows the baby Bermuda to breathe, and to absorb water and nutrients. Your regular lawnmower is not a verticutter, but you can rent one at a home supply store.
- In addition to sunshine and nutrients, Bermuda grass needs air. Aerate your lawn by punching little holes all over. This breaks up the soil and allows more oxygen to reach the root zone.
- Next step is to start mowing your lawn twice a week (sorry). As you mow, gradually lower your lawnmower setting to between ½ and ¾ of an inch. Also, make sure you bag all your clippings. Leaving them on the ground will mat over the Bermuda and stunt its growth.
- Add fertilizer and start to increase watering. After two weeks, the Bermuda grass will start to grow over the rye grass. Take your water up to summer levels and spread fertilizer at a rate of about nine pounds per 1000 feet.
- With all the watering, take some time to spread insect granules around your home in the grass. The granules help prevent a variety of pests, including roaches and scorpions. It works well to load a seed spreader with the granules and spread them all over your lawn, right before you water.
Transitioning from winter lawn to Bermuda grass is easier when you follow these few simple tips. If you have any questions about weeds or pests, come see us at any of our five Valley Bug & Weed Mart locations. Everyone at our stores is a pest control expert and can tell you exactly what products you need to keep your emerging lawn bug- and weed-free.