Bermuda Grass or Wire Grass
Cynodon dactylon

Lawn Weed Identification and Control

Bermuda Grass (Cynodon dactylon)--also called Wire Grass or Devil Grass--is a warm-season, perennial grass weed that is very aggressive and hard to control once it becomes established. This weed invades lawns, landscape beds and gardens as far north as Minnesota. It will spread and creep over barriers and grow on and through landscape fabrics. It is often mistaken by homeowners as crabgrass because the seed heads are similar.

Although a weed in cool climates, Bermuda grass is also a valuable turfgrass species. There are several cultivated varieties and hybrids that are grown as lawns, sports fields, and golf courses in the southern and transition zones.

It has a 'wiry' growth habit and spreads by stolons and rhizomes that root at the nodes. Bermuda grass thrives in warm temperatures and full-sun, it is not shade tolerant. Once the temperatures drop below 60° F in the fall it goes dormant, turning brown, for the winter.

Wire Grass is a very aggressive and hard to control weed once established. Herbicide applications are usually required to kill or suppress it. In some cases, cultural methods such as proper mowing, watering and fertilizing can be used to favor the growth of valuable lawn grasses while suppressing Bermuda grass.

Characteristics:

  • Warm-season perennial grass
  • Reproduces by seeds or stems (stolons and rhizomes)
  • Goes dormant turning brown with cool fall temperatures
  • A lawn weed but also a valuable lawn, pasture or sports turfgrass
  • Only grows in full sun, it is not shade tolerant
  • Usually has to be controlled with herbicides but cultural methods (mowing, watering, fertilizing) can be used to suppress it
  • Very aggressive and persistent weed

Weed Images

Bermudagrass or Wire Grass Weed Identification
Wire Grass encroachment into a Kentucky bluegrass lawn
Bermudagrass or Wire Grass Weed Identification
Bermudagrass or Wire Grass Weed Identification
Hitchcock, A.S. (rev. A. Chase). 1950. Manual of the grasses of the United States. USDA Miscellaneous Publication No. 200. Washington, DC. 1950
Bermudagrass or Wire Grass Weed Identification

Weed ID

Perennial grassy weeds are difficult to kill, especially when they are growing in established lawns. There are two approaches that can be taken: cultural methods that suppress Bermuda grass growth or control/eradication by using herbicides.

Maintenance practices that will suppress Bermuda include:

  • Avoid fertilizing in the summer
  • Do not over-water
  • Mow high
  • Over-seeding with perennial ryegrass or tall fescue

NON-SELECTIVE HERBICIDES

Glyphosate (Roundup) is the most common non-selective herbicide used to kill weeds and unwanted vegetation. To kill Bermuda grass, two or three applications are usually required at two week intervals. Start spraying in late spring when the grass breaks dormancy. The leaves need to be green and actively growing for the glyphosate to work.

SELECTIVE HERBICIDES

There are three selective herbicides available to professional applicators that can be used to suppress Bermuda grass.

  • Fusilade II, 2 EC - used on tall fescue lawns only. Apply in late spring and again in early fall.
  • Acclaim Extra 0.57 EC - start applications in late spring and repeat as needed.
  • Prograss 1.5 EC - not for use on zoysiagrass or fine fescue lawns. Start applications in late spring with one or two repeat applications.
Bermudagrass


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