bermudagrass runner

Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) Photo: Betty Marose

Updated: July 14, 2021

Life cycle

Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) is a perennial, warm-season, non-native grass, also called wiregrass.

Growth habit 

This grass has a creeping, spreading habit. The foliage has a gray-green color; leaves are about 1.5 - 6.0 inches long. The ligule has a ring of white hairs. It can grow up to 2 ft. tall in the summer and then goes dormant in the winter and turns brown.

bermudagrass in turf
 Bermudagrass or wiregrass in lawn. Photo: Kevin Mathias, UMD

Reproduction

This grass spreads aggressively by strong, wiry stolons (above ground runners) and underground rhizomes.

Photos

Bermudagrass foliage

Bermudagrass foliage

Photo: Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Flower

Bermudagrass flower

Photo: Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org

Growth habit

Bermudagrass growth habit

Photo: Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org

Infestation

Bermudagrass infestation

Photo: David J. Moorhead, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Conditions that favor growth

This grass thrives in full sun and high temperatures. It dies out in the shade. Mowing a lawn too short creates a favorable environment for it. 

Management

Cultural Lawn Care Practices

Maintain healthy, dense turf that can compete and prevent weed establishment. Mow lawn at 3-4 inches high during the growing season and seed bare spots. 

Mechanical Management

In ornamental beds, small infestations can be dug out by hand. You must remove all parts of the root system. Do not rototill live plants.

Hand pulling or using an appropriate weeding tool are the primary means of mechanical weed control in lawns. This is a viable option at the beginning of an infestation and on young weeds. Hand pulling when the soil is moist makes the task easier. Weeds with tap roots like dandelions or have a basal rosette (leaves clustered close to the ground) like plantain are easier to pull out than weeds such as Bermudagrass (wiregrass) or creeping Charlie (ground ivy) that spread with stolons or creeping stems that root along the ground.

Chemical Management

Herbicides should be used as a last resort because of the potential risks to people, animals, and the environment. Be aware of these lawn herbicide precautions first.

Perennial grasses like bermudagrass are extremely difficult to control selectively in turfgrasses.

  • A liquid, selective post-emergent herbicide with the active ingredient Fenoxaprop can be used to suppress bermudagrass in lawns.

  • Alternatively, use glyphosate (a non-selective herbicide) to spot-treat or renovate the entire lawn. Renovation should be initiated in mid-to-late August allowing time for reseeding in September into early October. Weeds must be actively growing in August when glyphosate is applied.

    To improve control, water well and allow foliage to grow a week or two before treating. Apply glyphosate at the rate recommended for your weeds and do not disturb the foliage or roots for a week after application. Water to encourage any re-growth and treat again if new growth appears. But, be aware chances are good that the bermudagrass will return again in the future. New grass can be seeded 7 days after treatment when you are sure the weedy grasses are dead.

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