When Does Bermuda Grass Go Dormant (Bermudagrass dormancy tips)

Bermuda grass, a warm-season grass, is a popular choice for lawns in hot climates, known for its drought tolerance and ability to withstand hot temperatures. But when temperatures cool, you may start to wonder “when does Bermuda grass go dormant?”

Bermuda grass goes dormant when soil temperatures reach 55°F (12.7°C) consistently, typically in late fall or early winter. This usually occurs in the months of November and December. The grass will turn brown and stop growing during dormancy, but it is still alive.

It is important to note that the exact timing of dormancy can vary based on geographical location and climate conditions.

And proper care and maintenance during dormancy help ensure its recovery when temperatures rise again.

Understanding dormancy and how to care for your Bermuda grass is essential to maintaining a beautiful, healthy lawn. So let’s delve into the world of Bermuda grass dormancy, the factors that influence it, and how you can maintain your lawn’s health throughout the year.

Short Summary

  • Understanding Bermuda grass dormancy involves recognizing triggers such as soil temperature, nighttime temperatures, and regional climate.
  • Regularly adjusting watering, cutting, and fertilizing practices is necessary to ensure the health of dormant Bermuda grass.
  • Proper maintenance and treatment can help prevent common issues such as summer annual weeds or spring dead spot for a healthy lawn.

Understanding Bermuda Grass Dormancy

Bermuda grass, like other warm-season grasses, experiences a period of dormancy when growth and activity slow down in early fall due to cooler temperatures, shorter daylight hours, and the first frost. This natural process allows the grass to conserve energy and allocate less towards sustaining its grass blades.

But what exactly triggers a bermudagrass lawn to enter dormancy, and how can you recognize when your lawn is in this state?

Soil Temperature and Dormancy

Soil temperature plays a significant role in Bermuda grass dormancy.

As a general rule, Bermuda grass enters true dormancy when soil temperatures reach 55°F (12°C). Soil temperature is influenced by various factors, including air temperature, sunlight, and other environmental conditions.

Warmer soil temperatures may result in Bermuda grass emerging from dormancy sooner, whereas colder soil temperatures may lead to it remaining dormant for a longer period.

To maintain optimal soil temperature for Bermuda grass dormancy, it is essential to ensure that the soil is well-drained and mulched. Additionally, over-watering and fertilizing should be avoided, as this can cause excessive soil temperatures.

Nighttime Temperatures and Dormancy

Nighttime temperatures also contribute to Bermuda grass dormancy.

Cooler nights serve as a signal for the grass to prepare for dormancy. Although there is no specific optimal nighttime temperature for Bermuda grass dormancy, it generally enters dormancy when soil temperature falls below 55°F (12°C) and remains dormant until spring when average day and nighttime temperatures ascend above 50 F for a few days.

To ensure successful preparation for a dormant lawn, it is recommended to reduce watering and fertilizing, mow the grass at a higher height, and rake up any dead grass clippings and leaves to prevent disease.

When it’s time to cut dormant Bermuda grass, make sure to follow these steps for optimal results.

What Does Dormant Bermuda Grass Look Like?

Now that we understand the factors that cause Bermuda lawn dormancy, how can we identify dormant Bermuda grass in our lawns? Recognizing the appearance of dormant Bermuda grass can help you determine if your lawn is in a dormant state or if it’s experiencing other issues that may require attention.

When looking for signs of dormancy, you should look for a yellowish-brown color in the area.

Brown Blades and Firm Roots

Dormant Bermuda grass, a type of dormant grass, is characterized by a brown lawn or black dry and thin blades, giving it a dry, spiky, and brittle feel. However, despite the brown appearance of the blades, the roots remain firmly rooted in the soil, indicating that the grass is still alive.

To identify dormant Bermuda grass, one should:

  1. Tug on a section of brown grass. If it cannot be easily removed, it is probably not active. This usually indicates that it is dormant.
  2. The grass is likely dead if it easily comes out of the soil.
  3. If it feels spongy, this is a sign of dead grass as well.

Comparing Warm Season and Cool Season Grasses

Comparing the appearance of dormant Bermuda grass to cool-season grass can help you determine if your lawn is truly dormant or just experiencing stress.

Warm-season grasses, like Bermuda grass, are most productive in hot climates, while cool-season grasses are better suited to cooler temperatures and have greater frost tolerance and lower light requirements.

As a warm-season grass, Bermuda grass thrives in these conditions but may appear dormant when faced with cooler temperatures.

Dormant Bermuda grass typically appears brown and dry, with brittle blades, while cool-season grasses may maintain a green appearance even in cooler temperatures. By comparing your lawn to other grass types, you can better understand its current state and address any issues accordingly.

Caring for Dormant Bermuda Grass

Proper care for dormant Bermuda grass is essential to maintain its health during dormancy. This involves adjusting your lawn care routine to accommodate the grass’s dormant state, including watering, cutting, and fertilizing practices.

Let’s explore each of these aspects in more detail to ensure your dormant Bermuda grass remains healthy until it’s ready to green up again.

Watering Dormant Bermuda Grass

When it comes to watering dormant Bermuda grass, it is advised to provide about 0.5 inches of water on a weekly basis if temperatures are above 40°F. However, it is recommended to not water dormant Bermuda grass when temperatures are lower than 40°F.

If adequate hydration is not supplied to dormant Bermuda grass during dry winter months, the grass may be weakened or even killed due to drought. By adhering to these watering guidelines, you can help ensure your Bermuda grass remains healthy during its dormant phase.

Cutting Dormant Bermuda Grass

Cutting dormant Bermuda grass during winter is generally not recommended. Instead, it is advised to mow dormant Bermuda grass just before it exits dormancy when soil temperatures reach 60°F (15°C) or higher.

Mowing Bermuda grass in your Bermuda lawn to a height of 1 inch just prior to its emergence from dormancy can help remove dead material and encourage a healthier spring return.

Fertilizing Dormant Bermuda Grass

To maintain the health of your dormant Bermuda grass, it’s important to apply the appropriate type and amount of fertilizer.

Applying potash fertilizer, which contains potassium, is recommended for promoting health and fullness in dormant Bermuda grass. Potash should be applied 4 to 6 weeks prior to the first expected frost at a rate of approximately 1 pound of potash (K2O) per 1,000 square feet.

However, be cautious of excess potassium affecting other garden plants, as it may result in the formation of salt deposits, which could potentially weaken certain plants.

Factors Influencing How Long Bermuda Grass Stays Dormant

The length of Bermuda grass dormancy varies depending on several factors, such as regional climate variations and the severity of winter temperatures. Understanding these factors can help you better predict when your Bermuda grass might go dormant and when it’s likely to green up again.

For example, in warmer climates, Bermuda grass may remain green year-round, while in colder climates, Bermuda grass may remain green year-round.

Regional Differences in Dormancy

Regional differences in climate can cause Bermuda grass to stay dormant for varying lengths of time, from a few weeks to a few months. Warmer climates may result in shorter dormancy periods, while cold temperatures may result in longer dormancy periods.

By understanding the impact of regional climate variations on Bermuda grass dormancy, you can better tailor your lawn care routine to accommodate these differences.

Mild Winters and Dormancy

Bermuda grass may stay green throughout the year in places with mild winters.

It may not even enter a dormant state. This can lead to augmented growth as well as the possibility of disease and pest infestations. In such cases, regular watering, fertilization, and mowing should be implemented to maintain the health of the grass.

By adjusting your lawn care routine to accommodate mild winter conditions, you can help ensure your Bermuda grass remains healthy year-round.

Bringing Bermuda Grass Out of Dormancy

Encouraging Bermuda grass to come out of dormancy involves monitoring temperature thresholds and initiating spring green-up practices. By understanding when and how to bring your Bermuda grass out of dormancy, you can ensure a healthy, vibrant lawn throughout the growing season.

Spring Green-Up

Spring green-up is the process of grass emerging from dormancy and beginning to grow anew, influenced by various factors such as irrigation, nutrition, and warmer temperatures.

To initiate spring green-up, mow dormant Bermuda grass to a height of 1 inch just before soil temperatures reach 60°F (15°C). This practice helps remove dead material and encourages healthier growth in the spring.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your grass is healthy and ready to grow.

Temperature Thresholds for Dormancy Recovery

Bermuda grass typically comes out of dormancy when daily temperatures reach 65°F and there is no occurrence of overnight frost.

By monitoring the daily temperatures in your region and ensuring there is no overnight frost, you can determine when it is safe to resume watering and other lawn care practices like aerating to bring your Bermuda grass out of dormancy.

Watering and other lawn care practices should be resumed when the daily temperatures reach 65°F.

Preventing and Managing Common Bermuda Grass Issues

Preventing and managing common Bermuda grass issues, such as summer annual weeds and spring dead spots, can help maintain a healthy lawn.

By understanding the signs of these issues and implementing appropriate treatments, you can ensure your Bermuda grass remains vibrant and lush throughout its growing season.

Taking the time to properly care for your Bermuda grass can help you avoid common issues and keep it healthy.

Controlling Summer Annual Weeds

Control summer annual weeds by applying pre-emergent herbicides in late winter or early spring, just before the early summer, and maintaining a dense lawn. A combination of cultural, mechanical, and chemical methods is recommended for optimal weed control of summer annual weeds.

By implementing these practices, you can reduce the impact of summer annual weeds on your Bermuda grass lawn and maintain a healthy, vibrant turf.

Dealing with Spring Dead Spot

Address spring dead spots by monitoring for signs of the disease in late spring, specifically around April, and applying appropriate treatments as needed. This fungal disease is characterized by circular areas of dead grass, 6 to 12 inches in diameter when turf resumes growth in spring.

By identifying and treating spring dead spots early, you can help minimize their impact on your Bermuda grass lawn and promote healthy growth.

Dormant Bermuda Grass


In conclusion, understanding Bermuda grass dormancy, caring for your lawn during this period, and managing common Bermuda grass issues can help you maintain a healthy, beautiful lawn throughout the year.

By monitoring temperature thresholds, implementing proper watering, cutting, and fertilizing practices, and addressing issues such as summer annual weeds and spring dead spots, you can ensure that your Bermuda grass thrives in the Texas climate.

So embrace the world of Bermuda grass dormancy, and watch your lawn flourish in the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

What month does Bermuda grass go dormant?

Bermudagrass typically goes dormant between November and February, depending on environmental conditions and the health of the grass.

This dormancy period can be a great time to assess the health of your lawn and make any necessary changes to ensure a lush, green lawn come spring.

Is it OK to cut dormant Bermuda grass?

Avoid cutting Bermuda grass once it has gone dormant. It is, however, recommended to cut it one time right before it enters dormancy.

Continue to water and fertilize, but avoid mowing until new signs of growth crop up in the spring.

What temperature kills Bermuda grass?

Temperatures below 30°F can kill the leaves and stems of Bermudagrass, while temperatures below 10°F may kill the grass completely.

When average temperatures drop below 50°F, growth stops and the grass begins to discolor.

When should I stop watering my Bermuda grass?

Slow watering your Bermuda grass in November but continue to water sporadically until March when you can get back to a regular watering schedule.

How to cut Bermuda grass short?

To keep Bermuda grass short, mow it at a height of 1 to 2 inches for Common Bermudagrass and 1/2 to 11/2 inches for hybrid varieties. Be sure to mow frequently and remove no more than one-third of the leaf area with each mowing.

Additionally, set the mower slightly lower than the regular summer mowing height just before lawn green-up.

How does Bermuda grass dormancy compare to other grasses?

Bermuda grass dormancy differs from other grasses like Centipede, St. Augustine and Zoysia.

While Bermuda grass goes fully dormant, turning brown and stopping growth during winter months, St. Augustine grass tends to retain some green color and limited growth even in colder temperatures.

Zoysia grass exhibits a semi-dormant state, where it can turn brown but retains some green color during winter.

Bermuda grass, unlike St. Augustine, has a more pronounced dormancy period, while Zoysia exhibit varying levels of dormancy. Each grass type has its own characteristics during dormancy, and understanding these differences can help in managing and maintaining a healthy lawn throughout the year.

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