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Warm nights signal time to fertilize bermudagrass

OPINION by Jimmy Driggers | May 3, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.
Jimmy Driggers - Submitted photo

Cool, wet weather can be very hard on bermudagrass in the spring. It can be a nightmare for lawn companies and homeowners to battle disease and weed control issues. As Arkansas' nights are warming up, it's time to think about fertilizing, and hopefully controlling some of these problem areas.

The cool temperatures and saturated conditions continued to delay greening in March.

Bermudagrass, as well as other warm-season grasses, needs warm day and warm night temperatures. It begins greening up after warm days, but never really produces significant growth until night temperatures are 60 degrees for about a week or more.

The grass will try to grow on warm days, but cool nights shut down the grass' internal machinery, negating any sustained growth.

When a string of warm nights occurs, the grass is ready to begin sustained growth. Fertilizing bermudagrass before night temperatures have reached the 60-degree mark results in lower fertilizer efficiency.

The grass may green up but other cool-season grasses and weeds will out-compete the languishing bermudagrass for the nutrients.

Remember to do soil testing to get fertilizer recommendations for your particular turf grass. In recent years, many homeowners have neglected to apply sufficient potassium fertilizer and bermudagrass stands have thinned significantly as a result.

Apply pre-emergence herbicides to control crabgrass in late February or early March. Apply post-emergence herbicides in May as needed to control summer annual and perennial broadleaf weeds such as knotweed, spurge and lespedeza. Products containing two or three broadleaf herbicides usually control several different broadleaf weeds in a lawn more effectively. Be sure the product is labeled for use on bermudagrass. Apply post-emergence herbicides only when weeds are present. Applying broadleaf herbicides three weeks after the lawn becomes green will help to avoid damaging the bermudagrass. See University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service's publication FSA2109, Home Lawn Weed Control, for more weed control information.

For more information, contact the Garland County Extension Office at 623-6841 or email Jimmy Driggers at [email protected] or visit

Master Gardener information

Master Gardener meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month online. The meetings are open to the public, and guests are welcome. For more information, call the Extension office at 623-6841 or email Alex Dykes at [email protected]

EHC information

Are you interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? EHC is the largest volunteer organization in the state. For information on EHC, call 623-6841 or email Alison Crane at [email protected] Follow Alison on Facebook @garlandEGF and @Garland FCS, and EHC on Facebook @GarlandCountyEHC.

4-H information

For information about Garland County 4-H Club membership or program benefits, contact Carol Ann McAfee at the Extension office, call 501-623-6841, or email [email protected] Additional information is available at


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