Thanks to our dog’s recent fascination with digging in the yard (luckily he only has two favorite spots and they are under the porch and at the base of a tree), I am in the market for some grass seed. This means that you get the benefit of my grass species research! I’m starting with Bermuda Grass even though I’m fairly certain that this is not going to be the right type for me, primarily because I don’t particularly like it, but also because it doesn’t really grow very well up here in Maine. But, I recently read a ton of blog comments about it on Northwest Edible Life and I was intrigued, so I put it at the top of my research list.
1. If you like Bermuda Grass, that’s good, because it’s easy to grow.
Unlike some other types of grass, Bermuda has both stolons and rhizomes. Not all other grasses have rhizomes, the underground shoots that will grow new plants when they are cut into separate pieces. This means that, because both the stolons and the rhizomes can generate new plants, Bermuda Grass grows like a weed.
2. If you don’t like Bermuda Grass, that stinks, because it’s really hard to get rid of.
Some people actually consider Bermuda Grass a weed. I’m sort of in that camp… Remember, a weed is simply an undesirable plant in an area where you don’t want it to be; it’s not an actual classification of plants. Because I wouldn’t want Bermuda Grass growing in my lawn, I would consider it a weed (besides, it looks a lot like crabgrass). So, remember those rhizomes and stolons? Well, they make it really difficult to get rid of Bermuda Grass. Think about it, every time you mow, each individual clipping could turn into a new plant. And, when you try to pull Bermuda Grass by hand, it breaks fairly easily, leaving behind part of the plant that will just grow into a new one. It also grows from seeds, so you can see why it’s such a pain to get rid of.
3. What the heck is Bermuda Grass, anyway?
Perhaps I should have started with this one… The biological classification of the most common variety is Cynodon dactylon, but there are actually nine species in the Cynodon family and all of them are technically Bermuda Grasses. Contrary to its name, Bermuda Grass originated in Africa. It came to the U.S. in the 1700s and spread all over what are now the southern states. It has the benefit of being drought-tolerant and because it regenerates so quickly, it is often used for sports fields.
4. Bermuda Grass may have health benefits.
Now this is fascinating to me. Bermuda Grass has been studied in India for its medicinal properties, partially because it has cultural importance as one of the plants dedicated to Ganesh. Apparently it has antimicrobial and antiviral properties, and may be useful as an alternative medicine for diabetics because it can bring blood glucose levels down naturally.
5. White grubs love Bermuda Grass.
Because it grows so quickly, Bermuda Grass is fairly resistant to pests; it often grows back fast enough after insects have eaten the grass blades that they do not impact the health of the lawn. White grubs, however, are an exception. These beetle larvae feed on the roots, usually in July and August, and can cause enough damage to make a noticeable impact. If you have Japanese beetles in your area, chances are you have white grubs in your Bermuda Grass. You can get rid of them naturally with milky spore – it kills the grubs but does not damage plants or animals. White grubs also lead to moles (apparently they are very delicious mole food!) so even if you’re not bothered by the grubs, if you don’t want a mole problem, you may want to consider a preventive approach.