Bermuda grass is a low-maintenance warm-season grass with a high tolerance for heat and brief periods of drought.
The excellent recovery rate of Bermuda grass makes it a popular turf for golf courses, athletic fields, and other high-traffic areas.
Frequently mowing Bermuda grass promotes vertical growth and creates a lush lawn, but it is important not to cut it too short.
So, how short do you cut Bermuda grass?
The ideal mowing height for common types of Bermuda grass is 1.5-2.5″ inches high, and for hybrid varieties, the height may be lowered to 0.5-1.5″ inches. The mowing height refers to how high your lawn mower blades are set, not the length of the grass.
Never cut more than 1/3 the height of your grass blades to maintain a healthy lawn.
You may need to adjust the mowing frequency and cutting height of your Bermuda grass depending on the season to maintain the health and thickness of your turf.
A thicker lawn will prevent broadleaf summer weeds and other invasive plants from sprouting.
Read on to learn how and when to mow Bermuda grass for a lush, beautiful lawn.
Is It Possible to Cut Bermuda Grass Too Short?
The correct mowing height for a Bermuda lawn depends on the type of grass and environmental stress.
Cutting Bermuda grass too short, often called “scalping,” will expose the stems and cause the grass to turn yellow.
The process of photosynthesis is required for grass to store energy in the roots for healthy growth.
Chlorophyll, which makes plants green, absorbs sunlight, so the plant can convert carbon dioxide and water into nutrients it stores in the roots.
If the grass blades are too short to absorb enough sunlight for photosynthesis, the grass roots will begin to die, and you will end up with bare spots on your lawn.
Mowing your Bermuda lawn too low may also damage the grass rhizomes and stolons, which grow near the soil surface.
To avoid cutting Bermuda grass too short, never cut more than one-third of the length of the leaf blade.
If you notice any yellow or brown blades after mowing, this is a sign you are cutting your lawn too short.
You also need to account for any bumps or hilly parts of your lawn where some grass areas may be cut shorter than others when you mow.
Set your mower height to a higher setting to avoid scalping the grass on a bumpy lawn.
Add topsoil to your lawn to fill low areas, so your grass will be cut evenly.
Hybrid varieties of Bermuda grass have shorter stems than common varieties, so they may be cut lower while maintaining a thick lawn.
For mowing heights lower than 1″ inch, the best type of lawn mower is a reel mower, such as this one on Amazon, for a more even cut.
New Bermuda grass sod must grow a strong root system, and the proper mowing height will be higher until it is well-established.
Further Reading: Helping Bermuda grass spread over your whole lawn
The following table shows the ideal mowing heights for different types of Bermuda grass and new sod.
Table of Recommended Mowing Height by Grass Type
|Types of Grass||Recommended Mowing Height|
|Common Bermuda Grass||1.5-2.5 “inches|
|Hybrid Bermuda Grass||0.5-1.5” inches|
|New Bermuda Grass Sod||1.25-1.5” inches|
The proper mowing height for Bermuda grass also varies depending on the season.
The table below shows the ideal mowing heights for Bermuda grass at different times of the year.
Table of Recommended Mowing Height by Season
|Season||Recommended Mowing Height|
|Winter (If Over-Seeded with Cool-Season Grass)||1” inch|
Mowing Frequency for Bermuda Grass
The mowing frequency of Bermuda grass will change according to seasonal temperatures.
Unless you have over-seeded your Bermuda turf with cool-season grass, you do not have to mow your lawn during winter.
During the colder months, Bermuda grass will go dormant and turn brown.
You must avoid mowing your dormant lawn too early, especially if you live in a transitional growing zone.
The first mowing of your lawn may be done at the end of winter once ground temperatures are consistently between 55-65° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C).
Mowing at the end of winter just before lawn green-up removes any brown or dead leaf blades killed by the cold weather.
Removing the dead blades of grass makes it easier for your Bermuda lawn to recover from dormancy.
Related: When does Bermuda grass go dormant?
You will not mow your Bermuda grass again until it has turned green and grown to at least three inches.
This grass length is usually attained around April or May, depending on temperatures and rainfall.
Your Bermuda grass lawn will need to be mowed more often in the spring, which is its peak growing season.
For a neater-looking lawn, you may need to mow your Bermuda grass every 3-5 days in the spring.
Mowing Bermuda grass more frequently also promotes faster growth for a more lush, green turf.
When new Bermuda grass sod is installed, wait at least two weeks before the first mow to allow for strong root growth.
If your Bermuda grass pulls out of the ground, you are mowing it too soon.
Wait another week or two for your entire lawn to become more established.
You must ensure your newly-established Bermuda lawn gets plenty of water for the first several weeks to promote healthy roots.
Bermuda grass sod will initially be cut at a higher height range before gradually lowering the height increments.
By late spring, you will be cutting your Bermuda sod at a normal mowing height.
Bermuda grass growth will begin to slow down when temperatures are hotter in the summer months.
In the summer, you may only need to mow your warm-season lawn once every seven days.
Bermuda grass stops growing during the fall season due to cool soil temperatures.
You will be able to shorten your mowing frequency to just once per month.
Tips for Mowing and Growing Bermuda Grass
Allow the Bermuda grass clippings to fall back onto the lawn as you mow.
These grass clippings are a natural fertilizer for your turf and provide a good nitrogen source for healthy growth.
Let your Bermuda grass lawn grow taller during hot temperatures or times of drought.
Taller grass provides better shade for the plant roots and keeps soil moisture from evaporating too quickly.
Bermuda grass grows best in areas with lots of sunlight, so regular pruning of trees near your yard is necessary to prevent shady areas.
If your yard has partial shade, aerate every spring for adequate soil drainage, so water and nutrients can reach the grass roots.
Regular aeration for your entire lawn alow prevents soil compaction.
Aeration is essential if you have a clay soil type, as it is more likely to become compacted.
You may also want to let your Bermuda lawn grow to a 2″-inch height range in shady spots to allow more leaf blade surface area for photosynthesis.
For acidic soil, you may need to add lime to keep the pH stable for nutrient distribution.
A high soil pH or excessive soil phosphorus will cause your Bermuda grass blades to turn yellow due to a lack of iron.
To increase Bermuda grass’s disease resistance and cold weather hardiness, apply a potassium fertilizer in the fall.
Further Reading: Best fertilizers to apply on Bermuda grass
It is also important to frequently sharpen your mower blades.
Dull mower blades rip the grass and cause jagged or frayed leaf blades.
A sharp mower blade provides a smooth and even cut for a neater-looking lawn.