…it’s an invasive grass!

     Most of us want a lush green lawn, there are exceptions…and those people can stop reading now. St. Augustine is the most common grass we have. It tolerates sun, shade, kids and dogs (up to a point). Most importantly, it tolerates water. Just accept the fact that our recent drought is NOT our standard weather condition. We usually get rain, lots of it by most standards. The one thing St. Augustine can’t do is tolerate drought. Once it is dry, it is susceptible to Chinch bugs (which is an up coming blog) and invasion by Bermuda grass.

     Bermuda grass  has narrow blue-green leaf blades.  Which can make for a beautiful lawn, golf course or sports field. Bermuda is great grass for a pasture. Bermuda can be started from start by seed, but spreads by seed, rhizomes, and runners. All of that makes it seem like the perfect grass for any yard…but…(and there is always a “but”) there are things, about Bermuda, that no one ever tells you. It hates shade, water and goes dormant in winter and turns brown. Bermuda is invasive and will come up in EVERY flower bed, crack in the pavement and potted plant you own. If you spray weed killer on it, in your flower beds, the poison can travel down the plant and kill part of your lawn. Bermuda needs a special mower, the old-fashioned reel type (Yikes! The motorized ones are expensive.) Bermuda grass is one of the most deeply rooted plants you will ever see, which is why it is so drought tolerant. It can grow under driveways and come up on the other side. It grows well in ditches and road sides. Trying to kill it is near impossible. Spraying just seems to knock it back and pulling it makes it worse. The only practical way to get rid of Bermuda is to drown it. Other than all that, Bermuda is great!

    What does all of this mean for the St. Augustine lawn you want? If you allow your St. Augustine to die or be stressed out from lack of water, Bermuda and weeds are sure to rear their ugly heads and start to take over. A patch of Bermuda in a St. Augustine lawn is very noticeable, the color difference is huge. Once Bermuda takes hold, the best thing to do is water, water, water and raise the deck of your mower up to 3 inches off the ground (which you should do anyway). Why this works, has to do with how the 2 different grasses grow. St. Augustine loves water and will create its own shade if allowed to be on the tall side. Bermuda hates water and shade. If the St. Augustine casts shade on the Bermuda, it will start to retreat and the extra water will make it cringe with fear.  It may take some time for the St. Augustine to take over, but it will eventually succeed. My personal experience is that EVERY St. Augustine lawn has some Bermuda in it and life is all about choices.