How to remove Bermuda from my St. Augustine lawn?

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Rusty Thompson on March 8th, 2017

Are you frustrated with Bermuda taking over your lush St. Augustine lawn? Unfortunately, there are only two options to deal with it.

Before I get into solutions, let me explain how Bermuda works. It is very invasive and spreads via seed (when mowed), stolon (above ground "runners"), and rhizomes (underground root system). It is in the grass family, so any herbicide that kills it will also kill St. Augustine grass - which is why it creates such a hassle for Gainesville lawns. 

The good news is that Bermuda and St. Augustine grasses can co-exist in Gainesville lawns and the grass can still look overall healthy. We have several clients that have found this to work for them, even if they would prefer to have a Bermuda-free yard. The bad news comes if anything ever causes the St. Augustine grass to struggle, like irrigation issues or insect damage, because then the Bermuda will immediately take the opportunity to really cover that area and will not let St. Augustine back in without being completely removed and having new sod installed.

A good lawn spray technician can utilize pre-emergent* herbicides to slow the spread of Bermuda - but nothing will stop it completely because of the runners. 

Some people love Bermuda lawns and grow it as their primary turfgrass, but you rarely see this in Gainesville. Primarily in our area, Bermuda is used for golf courses and football fields. It just takes too much maintenance and fertilizer to keep it looking healthy and lush in our sandy soils to be a good lawn grass.

Here are the two options when it comes to resolving the Wild Bermuda grass issue..  

Least Invasive Option - The key for this is to keep the St. Augustine turf healthy enough to keep the Bermuda at bay. You may have to sod any areas that are completely riddled with Bermuda to get a good start.

  • Mow the lawn on your mower's highest setting. (Bermuda prefers to be mowed low, so this will help the St. Augustine grass)
  • Increased irrigation times to keep the St. Augustine healthy enough to hold it's space against the invasive Bermuda grass.
  • A good fertilization and pre-emergent weed control program, which we offer. 
  • Lawn Insect Control such as chinch bugs and webworms. This is also a service we offer.

Extensive Option - This would involve locating any areas where Bermuda is located, even if it doesn't look bad yet, to remove and resod so that Bermuda is no longer taking over the property.

  • We would recommend starting with a couple non-selective herbicide applications that will kill the Bermuda grass throughout your yard.
  • Next, you would sod-cut and till the lawn to assure you remove all of the roots.
  • You would apply a soil amendment such as milorganite to help the sod root quickly.
  • Install the healthiest sod available. 
  • Lastly, protect the sod with a lawn health program.

Either one of these plans can work if all of the steps are followed, but missing a step assures failure when it comes to Bermuda grass. I encourage homeowners to keep their lawn healthy and a little Bermuda grass will not be an issue. It's only when the St. Augustine thins out and struggles that it shows up.  If we can be of any help in this job, please feel free to call us at (352) 378-5296 or email us at

*Pre-Emergents lay a protective barrier down on the soil that won't allow seeds to germinate, restricting Bermudas ability to spread.


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