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Apr 03

Prepare Lawns for Summer Transition

Posted on April 3, 2017 at 3:27 PM by Adam Testa

Living in the Valley of the Sun has some great advantages. This includes enjoying a lawn year-round. The two main types of turf used in southern Arizona include a perennial rye and Bermuda grass.

The perennial rye is typically applied each fall to continue the green grass while the Bermuda rests for the winter. Summer grass, also known as warm season grass, is typically Bermuda grass. Bermuda grass thrives in the summer but goes dormant as night-time temperatures dip consistently below 65 degrees.

When night-time low temperatures become consistently above 65 degrees, the Bermuda grass will essentially wake up and start growing, replacing the winter rye. Bermuda grass does not need to be planted each year, as the perennial rye grass does. Bermuda grasses consist of rhizomes living underground and Stolens that grow along the surface, which can continue to live by going dormant in the winter.

There’s a short time in the spring when both Rye grass and the Bermuda grass compete to survive. Because of this, turf may not transition from green to green because of weather and temperature variances. It’s normal to expect a one- to three-week period when the turf may be brown until the Bermuda begins growing again.

There are a few ways to prepare for this spring phenomenon, also known as summer transition, that will help the Bermuda come out of dormancy more quickly.

First, reduce mowing heights when soil temperatures begin to climb, allowing the sun to warm the soil and encourage Bermuda growth. On a side note, it’s good to remember Bermuda does not like being cold or being in the shade. It needs full sun to be healthy and green throughout the summer. When there is heavy shade, Bermuda will struggle and will not look good.

Also, start reducing irrigation to the turf, but not too much. This begins to stress the Rye and let it know it’s time to exit the stage. It also helps reduce the chances of the Rye shading out the Bermuda and inhibiting early growth. There’s an old philosophy of turning off the water completely; however, newer research has shown the Bermuda needs water to begin growing, so irrigation should remain on.

Dethatching is a good idea, as well. Dethatching is a technique that rakes out the old thatch from previous seasons and gives the Bermuda more access to water and sunlight that would otherwise be blocked by old thatch. This should be performed in moderation and only when the thatch becomes thick.

Finally, aeration is a good practice that also allows water and sunlight to easily reach the root zone and introduce oxygen and nutrients directly to the soil. This is done by removing soil cores from the soil.

Working to keep good soil conditions and practicing proper cultural practices will help ensure nice, healthy Bermuda throughout the summer. The primary causes of turf diseases can be linked to improper cultural practices, such as overwatering. Bermuda is tough enough to handle brutal temperatures and conditions with proper sun and water conditions and is great choice for people wanting a summer lawn.