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Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) is grown as a turfgrass throughout the South, but is considered an invasive grassy weed in Northern Virginia, where it turns a straw color at first frost and remains dormant until late spring.  It was introduced from Africa (not Bermuda) in 1751 and has spread widely throughout the southwest and southern United States. Bermudagrass has many other common names including couch grass, devil grass, and wiregrass. Common Bermudagrass produces seed that remains viable in soil for at least two years and spreads easily.

Identification and Lifecycle

Bermudagrass is a low-growing, wiry perennial that has two types of shoots: above ground shoots (stolons) and below ground shoots (rhizomes). The stolons and rhizomes are capable of rooting in the soil and creating new plants as they grow out from the original plant. Rhizomes are usually shallow (1 to 6 inches deep) but sometimes may be deeper than 6 inches. Bermudagrass leaves are generally smooth and pointed with a conspicuous ring of white hairs at the junction of the blade and sheath. The stems root at the nodes in most soil. Flowering stems are upright and bear a terminal group of three to seven spikes, usually originating in a single whorl on the tips of the stem. The flowering stem is similar to that of crabgrass.

Management

Bermudagrass is not an easy weed to control, and is even tougher to eradicate. Non-selective control (such as Glyphosate [Roundup], which, when applied, will kill the “good” grass as well as the bermudagrass) was the preferred method for decades because selective control options performed so poorly. The advent of a new chemical, called “PYLEX” has changed this. PLYLEX’s chemistry has proven effective for selectively controlling bermudagrass (as well as goosegrass, nimblewill and bentgrass). The first application should be made around August 1st in Northern Virginia with a second application three weeks later. With an effective way of controlling these invasive grassy weeds selectively, there is minimal need for follow-up seeding (except in the most severe infestations). As with even the most effective weed controls, there will probably be a recurrence at some point in the future. Spot control will be needed every few years to prevent the targeted grassy weed from taking over again.  

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