The Q&A Archives: Control of Weeds in Bermuda Grass

Question: I live on bulkheaded property which I sodded with bermuda three years ago. A lot of marsh weeds, clover, burs, and other weeds constantly blow across the water and take hold in my yard (full sun, no shade). Could you recommend a proper fertilizer and weed control for this problem? Would overseeding with rye help?

Answer: The best weed control is a dense, healthy turf. Therefore, cultural practices like proper mowing, watering and fertilizing are your first line of defense.

Bermuda is its "weed chokin' densest" when it is mowed every 5 days, watered once or twice a week with about 1/2 inch of water (stick a rain gauge in the turf to see how long that takes, or use a coffee can), and fertilized with a 3-1-2 ratio of nutrients three times through the growing season; early April, late June and mid October. Also return your clippings with a mulching mower. They are free organic fertilizer!

Choose a 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer such as 15-5-10, 16-4-9, or 21-7-14 and apply 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. when you fertilize. This would be 7 pounds of the first two products or 5 pounds of the third.

Since the weeds you mention are sprouting from seed, you can prevent them from sprouting with a product called WeedzStop (sold by Gardener's Supply Co.,; ph# 800/863-1700). It's just corn gluten, a by-product of corn oil and cereal processing. A protein in the gluten acts as a pre-emergent herbicide - and the gluten is naturally high in nitrogen, so you'll need to reduce your nitrogen fertilizer input if you decide to use it.

Already established weeds that manage to compete with the turf can be controlled with various other herbicide products, but each has it's drawbacks, from stressing the turf to damaging desirable ornamentals. Your Galveston County Horticulture Agent, Dr. William Johnson (ph# 713/534-3413) can assist you with selecting an appropriate product and spray schedule should you choose to take the herbicide route.

Finally, overseeding with rye would not help. It only further stresses turf by competing with it. Plus you have to mow all winter! Hope this helps!

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