Bermuda grass makes an excellent choice for areas prone to drought, heat, heavy foot traffic, and soil lacking nutrients.
However, it quickly becomes an unwanted pest with a reputation for being extremely hard to remove permanently.
Fortunately, there are tried and true methods to remove Bermuda grass and kill it for good in your lawn.
Bermuda grass is celebrated for its hardiness but has a stubborn reputation and is difficult to remove when it becomes a problem. It’s possible to eradicate unwanted Bermuda grass through chemicals or natural methods such as choking out the grass, solarization, vinegar, and landscaping fabric.
Some of these chemicals are harmful to people and other plants.
Luckily, there are natural methods, but they tend to take longer.
We’ll go over all the tried and true methods for removing Bermuda grass and kill it for good in your lawn.
Table of Contents
How To Remove Bermuda Grass Permanently
Some celebrate Bermuda varieties for their overall hardiness.
In harsh conditions prone to drought, excessive heat, and poor quality soil, Bermuda varieties are a gift to those who’ve struggled to successfully establish a lawn with other grass types.
It is a persistent and stubborn pest capable of taking over large areas for many other lawn care enthusiasts and gardeners.
Unfortunately, it takes years to achieve complete removal in most cases.
Bermuda grass is so difficult to remove due to its rigorous and effective growing process.
It spreads underground with stems called rhizomes and above-ground with runners, also called stolons.
This variety of grass also tends to seed aggressively and prolifically.
Herbicides are very effective at killing off Bermuda grass.
Unfortunately, many of them are non-selective herbicides.
This means they kill nearly every plant it touches.
Careful application and ratio mixing are imperative to success with herbicides.
If instead you want to kill weeds and NOT the grass, check out our picks for the best weed killer for Bermuda grass.
Other natural methods include choking out the grass, solarization, vinegar, and landscaping fabric.
These methods take longer than herbicides but effectively kill Bermuda grass with patience and time.
Due to the vigorous growth patterns of the grass species, it takes quite a bit of effort and time to fully eradicate it once the grass has established itself in your lawn.
One way to prohibit Bermuda grass’s emergence is by fostering a thick lawn with few spaces for the invasive weed grass to capitalize on.
Maintain a thick lawn through regular fertilization, aeration, watering, and mowing.
Each grass variety has its own unique needs, so we recommend researching what your particular grass needs to thrive and grow in thickly.
Herbicides For Killing Bermuda Grass In Your Lawn
Herbicides are specially formulated chemicals designed to kill weeds and unwanted plants in your lawn.
While they are incredibly effective at killing plants, they will harm any plant they touch.
Many of the herbicides capable of killing off pesky grass are non-selective.
Non-selective herbicides kill any plant they touch.
This is why spot treatments, selective herbicide, ratios, and product instructions must be followed closely to prohibit unwanted damage to grass and plants.
It’s important to consider other factors when applying herbicide to kill off Bermuda grass.
Factors, like wind, affect where the herbicide lands and leads to damage to your lawn and garden.
Using herbicide to kill off the intrusive grass is quicker than other methods but still requires multiple steps to eradicate the unwanted grass.
Professionals and homeowners alike resort to herbicides to remove the grass.
It is especially useful for removing large areas where non-selectivity is not a problem.
Step One: Spray Herbicide Over Affected Areas
The first step towards removing the pesky intruder with herbicide is the initial spraying.
Make sure to carefully follow manufacturer instructions on the product of your choice.
Improper ratios or applications will negatively impact the results of the herbicide.
Step Two: Strip Off Dying Sod
Once the herbicide kills off the grass, you’ll need to remove the dying plants.
Since the grass is so resilient, it takes multiple applications to get rid of it for good.
Step Three: Irrigate To Encourage New Growth
Bermuda varieties of grass grow underground with rhizomes and also seed aggressively.
It will undoubtedly grow back if you stop at one application of herbicide.
Irrigating to encourage new growth allows you to kill the grass while it is young and reduce the chance of it spreading by producing more rhizomes and seeds.
Step Four: Reapply Herbicide To Affected Areas
Once the new growth appears, spray the herbicide again.
You may need to repeat this a few more times to fully eradicate the unwanted grass in extreme circumstances, but you will see it grow back weaker each time.
Solarization For Bermuda Grass Removal
If you are hesitant to use herbicides on your property, there are other options as well.
Many homeowners and lawn care enthusiasts have beloved plants on their property.
It is understandable why we wouldn’t want to risk our beloved plants by spraying herbicide.
Luckily, many reliable solutions for removing Bermuda grass without using harmful chemicals.
One of them is solarization.
Solarization is the process of killing off weeds and unwanted grass with the help of light and heat from the sun.
Solarization covers the areas affected by the intrusive grass with clear plastic sheets.
The process is most successful in the summer months when the temperatures are highest, and the sun is strongest.
Some people have success with using black plastic as well.
Step One: Mow Bermuda Grass Down
The first step towards success with solarization is mowing the grass you want to remove down to just above ground level.
Mowing the grass to this height gives you less material to work with.
It gives the solarization process a better chance of successfully eradicating the invasive grass.
Step Two: Cover With Plastic Sheets
Once the grass is mowed, you’ll cover the affected areas with plastic sheets.
Make sure to fully cover the area as this particular grass spreads above and under the ground.
Step Three: Anchor Plastic Sheets Down
Once you’ve fully covered the area with plastic sheets, you’ll need to securely anchor the sheets down.
Use bricks, logs, heavy stones, or metal rods to ensure the plastic won’t be blown away by wind or storms.
Step Four: Leave Plastic Sheets In Place
You’ll need to leave the plastic in place for at least a month to allow the sun and heat to kill the unwanted grass.
The plastic works to amplify the heat and essentially fry the grass and kill it off.
It takes time for this to occur, so we recommend leaving the plastic in place for at least a month, ideally for a month and a half.
Cultivating Soil To Kill Bermuda Grass
Cultivation is another excellent way to naturally make your lawn inhospitable to persistent Bermuda grass.
While Bermuda varieties are very resilient, their roots are surprisingly vulnerable to excessive heat and dryness.
In the summer months, it is possible to burn and kill the roots of the grass by exposing them to the high temperatures and heat of the sun.
Many homeowners and lawn care enthusiasts succeed by plowing soil 6” inches down and exposing the roots.
Plowing brings the roots up to the surface, allowing the sun to do its job at creating an inhospitable environment.
To fully remove the grass and kill it for good through soil cultivation, you’ll need to repeat the process every two weeks.
Regular soil cultivation ensures you effectively kill off all stolons and rhizomes.
The stolons and rhizomes are responsible for the continued growth and spreading of the pesky plant.
You want to make sure you remove all parts of the grass to not reestablish itself.
How To Choke Out Bermuda Grass
Bermuda varieties can capitalize on empty spaces and patches in your lawn.
Once it takes root, it will take over the yard without proper action.
There are many natural ways to choke out the grass.
Choking the grass helps remove existing growth and prohibits the grass from reestablishing.
One of the most common ways to choke out Bermuda grass and other unwanted weeds is landscaping fabric.
Landscaping fabric is dense material capable of killing off unwanted weeds like Bermuda grass by depriving the necessary sunlight, water, and nutrients needed for them to grow.
Proper installation of landscaping fabric is a little tricky.
If you’re unsure whether you installed the fabric correctly, consider contacting a local professional.
Step One: Cover Affected Area With Landscaping Fabric.
The first step to choke out the invasive grass with landscaping fabric is to cover the affected area.
Make sure you completely cover the area where the unwanted growth is present.
Step Two: Carefully Cut Holes In Fabric To Allow Space For Grass To Grow.
This step is particularly meticulous and may require the help of a professional or seasoned lawn care enthusiast.
You’ll need to cut spaces for your desired grass to grow in.
This is tricky because you don’t want the Bermuda grass to grow.
This is the most common step where people make mistakes, so be extra careful with this step.
Step Three: Weigh Down Fabric With Mulch.
Once the fabric is in place, you’ll want to spread a layer of mulch on top to weigh down the fabric.
Some people use sand and stones to weigh down the fabric which also works.
Mulch is preferred as it holds water and nutrients.
The wanted grass growing through the holes cut in the fabric will appreciate access to these valuable resources.
Step Four: Carefully Monitor Area For New Growth Of Bermuda Grass.
For landscaping fabric to work at choking out Bermuda grass, you need to carefully monitor the edges and holes to pull up Bermuda grass when it grows in.
This allows you to successfully eradicate the Bermuda grass over time.
It takes about two months for the full effects of landscaping fabric.
Regular monitoring is key to success for choking out weeds.
Another way to choke out Bermuda grass is by using cardboard.
You use the cardboard much like you use the landscaping fabric.
Here are some tips for success when using cardboard to choke out weeds:
- Use cardboard with two layers like appliance boxes.
- Consider applying compost under the cardboard to stimulate activity.
- Wet the cardboard coverings and apply a few inches of mulch to choke out weeds.
- Use sod staples to securely anchor down cardboard to prevent weeds and Bermuda grass from growing under the edges.
Natural Methods For Spot Treating Invasive Bermuda Grass
Choking out and solarization are great methods for choking out Bermuda grass over large lawn areas.
What if you are looking to spot treat Bermuda grass naturally?
Luckily, there is a great alternative to chemical spot treatments, and chances are you have it in your cupboard.
White vinegar is an excellent way to kill Bermuda grass and spot-treat affected areas.
A 10% solution of white vinegar and water effectively kills weeds and Bermuda grass.
While it is natural, vinegar is non-selective and will damage other plants.
Using a sprayer like this one allows you to target individual patches of Bermuda grass while limiting overspray to wanted grass and plants.
This sprayer also has an adjustable nozzle allowing you to isolate which plants the vinegar will touch.
How To Kill Bermuda Grass For Good In Zoysia And Fescue Lawns
Each type of grass variety has its strengths and weaknesses.
Certain grass varieties tend to fare better against invasive Bermuda grass, while others require lots of hard work, dedication, and time.
Two of the most popular grasses affected by Bermuda grass invasions are Zoysia and Fescue.
Unfortunately, once Bermuda grass invades a Zoysia grass lawn, the removal process is demanding and time-consuming.
Since both types of grass are perennials, it is difficult to find an herbicide capable of killing off Bermuda grass without damaging the desired Zoysia grass.
One of the best methods to protect Zoysia grass is prevention.
Bermuda grass capitalizes on patchy lawns, using the bald areas to establish themselves and subsequently spread and take over the lawn.
Regular maintenance through mowing, fertilization, aeration, and watering fosters a thick and lush lawn inhospitable to invasive Bermuda grass.
We also recommend regularly spreading extra grass seed over patchy areas to encourage Zoysia grass before Bermuda grass has a chance to take hold.
Fusilade II is one of the most effective herbicides for treating Bermuda grass growth on Zoysia lawns.
The process is very lengthy, taking up to two years to reduce Bermuda grass growth.
For this reason, we recommend setting your Zoysia lawn up for success by fostering thick and lush growth to limit the opportunities of a Bermuda grass invasion.
To help with this check out our post on the best fertilizers for Zoysia grass.
Fescue lawns grow differently than Bermuda grass, giving you some advantages at eradicating the pesky grass.
Fescue grass tends to grow taller than Bermuda grass.
Bermuda grass will get less sunlight and nutrients if you mow your Fescue lawn at a higher length.
This may be enough to choke out the Bermuda grass and prohibit it from thriving and spreading.
Removing Bermuda Grass From Garden Beds
Sometimes pesky Bermuda grass finds its way into our garden beds.
We don’t want to use harmful herbicides near our beautiful flowers.
So, what should we do?
The first step is to pull the grass back its stolons and expose the roots.
Next, you’ll want to pull the roots to the end of the garden bed.
Once you’ve pulled the stolons and roots out to the perimeter of the garden bed, you’ll need to cut the grass at the edge of your garden bed.
Finally, you’ll need to go back through and pull off the rhizomes.
Bermuda grass is capable of spreading underground through rhizomes.
Removing them prohibits the chance of an unwanted resurgence of Bermuda grass.
Popular Herbicides For Killing Off Bermuda Grass For Good
If you aren’t having any luck with the natural methods and have decided on using an herbicide, it’s important to use one suited for the unique needs of your lawn.
Roundup is one of the most popular herbicides.
The active ingredient glyphosate is extremely effective against Bermuda grass.
Spring and fall applications tend to have the most success.
We have a post on how long Roundup takes to be effective if you want to learn more.
Fenoxaprop-p-ethyl is another herbicide capable of effectively killing Bermuda grass.
Unfortunately, it tends to harm wanted grasses, especially Zoysia, so use caution.
Fusilade II is a great choice for herbicide for those of us with Zoysia lawns.
Applying at a reduced rate slowly helps to remove Bermuda grass and allows Zoysia grass to thrive.
It’s even possible to use dish soap on lawns as a plant control option. Click the link to learn more.