Bermuda grass, your days are numbered. Within a matter of weeks the overambitious lawn/weed we love to hate here in the desert Southwest–and I’m sure other warm weather states feel the same–will turn from green to light brown and go dormant for the winter.

Last week I wrote about the common practice locally of overseeding lawns during the winter months. I know very few people who prefer the look of a brown dormant bermuda lawn to the lush, verdant green of an overseeded rye. But maybe you just can’t spend the money on a gardener or supplies this year, or you forget about it and miss the fairly brief window for overseeding. My husband and I have found ourselves in both situations.

Lawn in Repose

Dormant bermuda grass may look dead, but it’s actually going through a natural, healthy process. In fact, some experts suggest that allowing your dormant grass to go brown without overseeding can lead to a healthier bermuda lawn the following summer.

So what should you do with a dormant lawn? You may think “nothing.” You’ll save time and money by choosing not to overseed but, as much as you’d like to, you can’t ignore your winter bermuda grass completely. Here are a few bermuda lawn care tips for the winter:

  1. Keep your lawn care schedule fairly normal in October–mow, fertilize, water. As the month progresses, cut back your irrigation schedule gradually until you’re watering about once a week.
  2. Once November hits, limit your watering to once each month through March. You shouldn’t have to mow or fertilize during this period, although you may want to trim edges or uneven spots occasionally if you like things particularly tidy.
  3. Try to limit activity on the bermuda grass while it’s dormant. The grass is weak and bare spots can develop easily.
  4. Make sure weeds don’t get out of control in the midst of any patchy spots. Use whatever weed-fighting process you feel comfortable with (chemical, organic, etc) and nip them in the bud. If all else fails, pull them as soon as possible.
  5. Take the opportunity to eradicate dormant bermuda from any flower beds or borders. Pulling it will be much easier when it’s dormant during the colder months.
  6. Enjoy the fact that you’re conserving water, saving money, and gaining more time to enjoy the beautiful winter weather!

Follow these tips, and you should be enjoying a beautiful green lawn when things start to thaw out and become active again.