What grass seed should you choose to create a lawn in Bermuda?
According to Martin Brown, owner of Brown and Company Landscape Gardeners and Tree Surgeons, the four main grasses available are St. Augustine (typically the Floratam cultivar), zoysia, Bermuda grass, and winter rye grass. Brown says, “The most prevalently planted on the island is the St. Augustine; it tends to be the fastest establishing and most hardy variety for a domestic landscape.” However, it is susceptible to pests and disease and needs careful monitoring and treatment.
Eugene O’Connor, co-owner with Jay Benoza of Bermuda Green Thumb, says finding Bermuda grass seeds that are uncoated is a problem. Rye grass is problematic because it dies in the summer. TRY-RYE grass seed, on the other hand, is perennial and he is hoping it will last year-round.
Maintaining a lawn in Bermuda can be tricky, particularly because of drought and cinch bugs in the summer months. Apart from winter rye grass, Brown says, lawns need minimal mowing in the winter since they are dormant then, but typically need mowing twice a month in the summer. However, “Grass should never be cut during drought conditions as this causes undue stress.” He also explains grasses other than winter rye will need verticutting or dethatching occasionally to maintain vigour. All will have different nutritional requirements and treatment for both winter and summer broadleaf weeds. “These treatments,” he adds, “can be expensive.”
What about pesticides? Green Thumb has a full line of garden safe pesticides. That said, O’Connor says very few pesticides are safe for the general public to use—it’s best to let professionals apply them. But if you choose to do so, it’s best to apply them at night. On no account would he recommend Roundup weedkillers. “It stays in the soil for 7½ years. I wouldn’t touch them.”