Lawn Maintenance Calendar
This calendar of suggested management practices is designed to assist you in the seasonal care of your
bermudagrass lawn. Location, terrain, soil type and condition, age of lawn, previous lawn care, and other
factors affect turf performance. For these reasons, the following management practices and dates should be
adjusted to suit your particular home lawn conditions.
March through May
Mow the lawn when it first turns green in the spring with a reel mower set at ¾ to 1 inch or a rotary mower set as
low as possible without scalping. Mow before the grass gets taller than 1½ to 2 inches. Then practice
grasscycling. Grasscycling is simply leaving grass clippings on your lawn. Grass clippings decompose quickly
and can provide up to 25 percent of the lawn's fertilizer needs. If prolonged rain or other factors prevent
frequent mowing and clippings are too plentiful to leave on the lawn, they can be collected and used as mulch.
Whatever you do, don't bag them! Grass clippings do not belong in landfills.
Apply 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet several weeks after the grass turns green. Submit a soil
sample to determine nutrient and lime requirements. In the absence of a soil test, use a complete
nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (N-P-K) turf-grade fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio(for example, 12-4-8 or
16-4-8). (Contact your county Cooperative Extension Center for details.) Apply lime if suggested. To determine
the amount of product needed to apply 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet, divide 100 by the first
number in the fertilizer ratio. For example, for a 16-4-8 fertilizer, divide 100 by 16. The result is 6.25 pounds of
product per thousand square feet: 100/16 = 6.25
Water to a soil depth of 4 to 6 inches. Probe with a screwdriver to determine moisture depth. Bermudagrass
needs a weekly application of about 1 to 1¼ inches of water. On sandy soils it often requires more frequent
watering, for example, ½ inch of water every third day. It is often necessary to irrigate an area for 3 to 5 hours
to apply 1 inch of water. (It requires 640 gallons of water to deliver 1 inch of water per thousand square feet.)
Because clay soils accept water slowly, irrigate just until runoff occurs, wait ½ hour until the water has been
absorbed, and then continue irrigating until the desired depth or amount is obtained. A dark bluish gray color,
footprinting, and wilted, folded, or curled leaves indicate that it is time to water. Proper irrigation may prevent or
reduce pest problems and environmental stress later in the summer.
Apply preemergence herbicides to control crabgrass, goosegrass, and foxtail by the time the dogwoods are in
full bloom. Apply postemergence herbicides in May as needed to control summer annual and perennial
broadleaf weeds such as knotweed, spurge, and lespedeza. Products containing two or three broadleaf
herbicides usually control several different broadleaf weeds in a lawn more effectively. Be sure the product is
labeled for use on bermudagrass. Apply postemergence herbicides only when weeds are present, and wait until
three weeks after the lawn becomes green.
Check for white grubs and control them if necessary. (See White Grubs in Turf, ENT/ORT-67, AG-366).
Vertically mow in May to remove the thatch (layer of undecayed grass) after the lawn becomes green if the
thatch is more than ½ inch thick.
Replant large bare areas using sod or sprigs (3 to 5 bushels per thousand square feet). Common
bermudagrass can be seeded using hulled bermudagrass at 1 to 2 pounds per thousand square feet.
June through August
Follow the March through May mowing guidelines.
Apply 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet every 4 to 6 weeks using the March through May fertilizing
Follow the March through May irrigation guidelines.
Follow the March through May insect control guidelines. August is the best time to control white grubs because
they are small and close to the soil surface.
Apply postemergence herbicides as needed to control summer annual and perennial broadleaf weeds such as
knotweed, spurge, and lespedeza. Crabgrass, goosegrass, dallisgrass, nutsedge, annual sedges, and sandbur
can be controlled with postemergence grass control herbicides. Two or three applications 7 to 10 days apart
are required for effective control. Apply herbicides only when weeds are present, the grass is actively growing,
and the lawn is not suffering from drought stress.
Vertically mow to remove the thatch if it is more than ½ inch thick. Thatch can be removed monthly if the lawn
has sufficient time to recover.
September through November
Mow the lawn following the March through May guidelines until several weeks before the first expected frost.
Raise the mowing height ½ inch as winter approaches if the lawn will not be overseeded. Mowing height is
usually raised in mid- to late September in the piedmont. Mowing height of lawns in the western and
northwestern areas of the piedmont may be raised one to two weeks earlier, whereas mowing height in the
south central and southeastern regions may be raised one to two weeks later.
Apply no more than ½ pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet in September, four to six weeks before the
first expected frost. Use a low-nitrogen, high-potassium fertilizer such as a 5-10-30, or supplement a nitrogen
fertilizer source with 1 pound of potash(K2O) using 1.6 pounds of muriate of potash (0-0-60), 2 pounds of
potassium sulfate (0-0-50), or 5 pounds of sul-po-mag (0-0-22) per thousand square feet.
To determine the amount of product required to apply 1 pound of potash per thousand feet, divide 100 by the
third number in the fertilizer ratio. For example, for a 6-6-12 fertilizer, divide 100 by 12. The result is 8.3 pounds
of product per thousand square feet:
100/12 = 8.3
Follow the March through May irrigation guidelines. Dormant bermudagrass may need to be watered
periodically when warm, windy weather prevails.
Apply preemergence or postemergence herbicides as needed to control winter annual and perennial broadleaf
weeds such as chickweed and henbit. Preemergence herbicides do not control existing perennial weeds. Apply
postemergence herbicides only when weeds are present. Do not apply herbicides designed to control annual
bluegrass if the lawn is to be overseeded with ryegrass.
Follow the March through May insect control guidelines.
December through February
Mow overseeded bermudagrass at 1 inch before the grass gets taller than 1½ inches. Recycle nutrients by not
collecting the clippings unless they accumulate heavily on the surface. Dormant bermudagrass that has not
been overseeded need not be mowed.
Do not fertilize bermudagrass that has not been overseeded. For overseeded bermudagrass, apply ½ pound of
nitrogen per thousand square feet in December and February. In the absence of a soil test, use a complete
(N-P-K) turf-grade fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio (for example, 12-4-8 or 16-4-8).
Dormant bermudagrass may have to be watered periodically to prevent desiccation, especially when warm,
windy weather prevails. Watering is particularly important for lawns that have been overseeded.
Apply broadleaf herbicides as needed to control weed such as chickweed, henbit, and hop clover. Selective
herbicides can be applied in November or December to lawns that have not been overseeded to control annual
bluegrass (Poa annua) and several winter annual broadleaf weeds.
More About Bermudagrass
Bermudagrasses range from coarse to fine in texture, and they grow low and dense. They are very drought
tolerant, require full sunlight, and grow well on all but poorly drained soils. Bermudagrasses withstand wear and
traffic, establish quickly, and recover rapidly from injury. They can invade flower beds and other areas where
they are not wanted because they have a strong above- and below- ground stem system. Herbicides such as
Vantage, Fusilade, or Roundup are effective, although straight edging with these materials is difficult. Most
fine-textured turf bermudagrasses must be planted vegetatively using sod, sprigs, or plugs, but common
bermudagrasses can be planted from seed. Bermudagrass performs best when mowed at ¾ to 1 inch with reel
mower; however, good performance can be achieved using a rotary mower with sharp blades set as low as
possible without scalping. Uneven terrain may prohibit bermudagrass from being mowed as short as desired.
Common bermudagrass (wiregrass), compared to hybrid bermudagrass (Tifway and Tifgreen), can be seeded
and maintained at a higher mowing height. Common bermudagrass produces a more open lawn (more weed
prone), has a wider leaf, is less cold tolerant, and exhibits more seedhead but requires less maintenance,
Tifway (T-419) Tifway II are the best all-purpose hybrids for use in lawns, but they may require more frequent
mowing and more fertilization than common bermudagrass. Both grasses are finer in leaf texture, are denser,
and exhibit fewer seedheads than common bermudagrass, and they are pollen free. Midiron and Vamont are
very aggressive, course-leafed, cold-tolerant cultivars that must be vegetatively planted. Tifgreen (T-328),
Tifgreen II, and Tifdwarf require very intensive management and are not usually recommended for residential
use. Guymon is a new, seeded, very course, cold-tolerant cultivar, similar to common bermudagrass in
appearance. Little published information is available on the newest cultivar, Sahara.
Because of their aggressive nature, bermudagrasses have very few serious pest problems, but are subject to
sting-nematode damage when grown in sandy soils. Nematode damage leads to shallow-rooted plants that do
not respond to water and fertilizer, resulting in thin, weak areas invaded by weeds. If nematodes are suspected,
submit a soil sample for analysis. (See Extension Service publication Diseases of Warm-Season Grasses,
AG-360, for information on nematodes and diseases such as brown patch and spring dead spot, and
Ornamental and Turf Insect Note No. 70, Insect Management in Turf for Insects that Feed on Bermudagrass.)
Contact your county Extension Center for assistance.
an ecologically and financially sound program for your lawn.
Facts About Grass Clippings
North Carolina state law prohibits disposal of yard wastes, including grass clippings, in landfills.
Using grass clippings as a nutrient source for your lawn can save time and money and protect the environment.
Grass clippings don't cause thatch.
The Grasscycling Concept
Leave grass clippings on the lawn! Grass clippings are 75 to 85 percent water and a good source of nutrients.
When left on the lawn after mowing they quickly decompose and release nutrients. Through grasscycling, you
can supply up to 25 percent of the lawn's yearly fertilizer needs, which means saving money and time. (And it
means you do not have to rake and bag for hours.)
By following the management guidelines in this turf calendar and adding grasscycling to your routine, you will
no longer need to bag clippings and your lawn will grow at an acceptable rate, retain a green color, ands
develop a deeper root system.
For more information on grasscycling, contact your county Cooperative Extension Center.
Integrated Pest Management: The Sensible Approach to Lawn Care
Many pest problems can cause your turf to look bad --diseases, weeds, insects,, and animals. If you are really
unlucky, you may have all of them at one time.
So what do you do? Use a pesticide? Or make changes in cultural practices? Both methods, and some others
as well, may be needed. The balanced use of all available methods is called Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
The idea is simple. It involves the use of all available prevention and control methods to keep pests from
reaching damaging levels. The goal is to produce a good turf and minimize the influence of pesticides on man,
the environment, and turf.
IPM methods include:
Use of best adapted grasses.
Proper use of cultural practices such as watering, mowing, and fertilization
Proper selection and use of pesticides when necessary.
Early detection and prevention, or both, will minimize pest damage, saving time, effort, and money. Should a
problem occur, determine the cause or causes, then choose the safest, most effective control or controls
When chemical control is necessary, select the proper pesticide, follow label directions, and apply when the
pest is susceptible. Treat only those areas in need. Regard pesticides as only one of many tools available for
To learn more about integrated pest management, pest identification, turf care, and proper use of pesticides,
contact your county Cooperative Extension Center.