How to Get Bermuda Grass to Spread Quick: A Practical Guide

By: Ken Wilson

Bermuda grass is a favored sun-loving, warm-season variety used to create lush lawns in the southern regions of the United States. Every homeowner envisions a sea of verdant green grass – in reality, you may have some patchy areas you’d like to cover. Fortunately, there are straightforward ways to get Bermuda grass to spread quickly.

Speed Bermuda grass spreading habit by planting your lawn in late spring; laying sod will grow and fill bald spots quicker than seeds. Other ways to boost growth include propagating bald spots by hand, improving the soil, mowing the lawn often, and providing sufficient sun, water, and fertilizer. 

Thicker, lusher, and healthier – here’s how to get Bermuda grass to spread quickly.

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How to Get Bermuda Grass to Spread Fast

Bermuda grass spreads through stolons and rhizomes. Stolons, or “runners,” are the above-ground stems that grow horizontally from the parent plant. Like stolons, rhizomes grow horizontally, except they grow under the ground.

While stolons are more prevalent, stolons and rhizomes enable Bermuda grass to spread and cover your entire lawn with thick, dense turf.

Given the proper environment and care, Bermuda grass is easy to grow and has a high-speed growth rate. Whether you want to establish a new lawn or fill in bare spots, there are several tricks that will help speed up turning your lackluster lawn into a lush haven – here’s how.

1. Grow Bermuda Grass in Late Spring

Bermuda grass grows best during its peak growing season, from late spring through summer. Plant Bermuda seeds or sprigs in late spring or early summer for rapid growth and spread. 

Soil temperatures between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit are best for rapid germination and development of Bermuda grass. Planting seeds or sprigs too early (soil temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit) can retard development and extend establishment by several weeks. 

2. Choose Sod or Plugs Over Seed

Laying sod or plugs over seed is the quickest way to establish a lawn or fill bald spots. 

Bermuda grass seeds take 5 to 28 days to germinate and about 10 weeks to mature into a lush lawn. Sod is pre-grown, allowing you to create an instant lawn without bare spots and patchy work from the get-go. It takes around 2 to 3 weeks to fully establish. 

Plugs are small, 2- to 3-inch-wide sections of sod containing grass, roots, and soil. They are ideal to cover a few thinning or patchy areas.

3. Propagate Bald Spots by Hand

First, it’s vital to determine the root cause of why your lawn has bare spots. This will help cure and prevent the issue from recurring. After implementing a solution, you can propagate the bald spots by hand to encourage the grass to spread quicker and to get back on track with a lush, healthy lawn. 

You can purchase Bermuda grass strips or plugs to fill the bald spots. However, if you already have a Bermuda lawn, simply cut out small sections (3 x 3 inches) and replant them in the bare areas.

4. Improve the Soil 

If your Bermuda grass has a slow growth rate, it can be due to an incompatible soil type or overly compact and clogged soil. Bermuda grass grows best in good-quality, well-draining that isn’t too compact. It thrives in slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6 and 7, although it can tolerate a pH of 5.5.

Take a soil sample and test the pH and nutrient availability. If your soil’s pH exceeds 7, you can add sulfur to help reduce the pH levels, making it optimal for growing Bermuda grass. Applying sulfur to your turn will enrich the growth, helping your grass achieve a green, lush, and full appearance.

If your lawn soil has a pH level below 5.5, amend it by adding lime to raise the pH and make it less acidic. You can also amend the soil by aerating the soil and removing the compact thatch layer. Aerating and dethatching your lawn will encourage a dense root system and improve the availability and absorbency of nutrients, water, and oxygen.

5. Water Bermuda Grass Regularly

Although drought tolerant, Bermuda grass will grow and spread quickly with a consistent watering schedule. Regularly providing water fosters strong, deep roots and boosts their appearance and growth potential. (Related article: Bermuda Grass in Winter: Proper Lawn Care Guide)

Here are the watering recommendations:

  • Spring: ¾ to 1 inch weekly
  • Summer: 1 to 1½ inches weekly
  • Autumn: 1 inch monthly
  • Winter: 1 inch monthly

6. Maximize Sunlight Exposure

Bermuda grass thrives in full sun. It tolerates shade poorly and needs a minimum of 4 hours of direct sunlight daily. Maximizing sunlight exposure will increase photosynthesis and energy storage, in turn promoting Bermuda grass growth.

7. Mow the Lawn often

Frequently mowing your Bermuda lawn will help thicken your grass and promote lateral growth above vertical growth.

When you mow your lawn, the grass will respond to the reduced blade surface area by producing more growth to maximize photosynthesis. Like all plants, Bermuda grass has limited energy, and frequently cutting it ensures that optimal energy goes to sending new shoots and maximizing runner growth.

The stolons (runners) form on the open soil area around the mother plant for more photosynthesis to benefit the lawn.

Mow your Bermuda lawn every 5 to 7 days or once it reaches two inches tall. Ensure you never cut more than 1/3 off the total leaf to ensure a large enough surface area for photosynthesis and vigorous growth.

8. Apply Fertilizer

Although hardy, Bermuda grass will benefit from additional nutrients and fertilizer. Fertilizers help reduce weed growth, strengthen plant roots, and improve the overall growth of your lawn.

Apply fertilizer to your Bermuda grass based on soil test results. Bermuda grass will benefit from 2 to 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet during its growing season. You might have to use a higher rate on sandy soils and a lower rate on clay soil.

  • Early summer: provide ½ to 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in early May.
  • Mid-summer: provide ½ to 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in June, using a fertilizer high in potassium.
  • Late summer: provide ½ to 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in early August, using a fertilizer high in potassium.

Using a fertilizer high in potassium late in the growing season helps protect the plant from diseases as it enters dormancy.

Final Thoughts

Bermuda grass naturally has a speedy growth habit. But you can use our tips to ensure exponential growth and spreading – your lawn will be green, thick, and lush in no time!

About the author 

Ken Wilson

Long time career in the home services industry from remodeling to patio construction. Currently residing to in SWFL and active contributor to multiple home & garden publications.