How and When to Plant Bermuda Grass Plugs
Bermuda grass plugs need warm, moist soil to germinate, grow, and spread. During cool temperatures (generally below 50 degrees Fahrenheit) bermuda grass plugs will not grow; they becomes dormant. This means that late spring to early summer is the best time to plant bermuda grass plugs while fall and winter are the worst. Earlier is even more important for plugging bermuda grass.
Establishing a new bermuda grass lawn with plugs is our least favorite option. It takes a lot of manual labor to set each plug and it takes extra time for the plugs to grow together and form a thick, lush lawn. However, plugs can save you 50% to 75% of the cost of sod.
Proper soil preparation, including a test for pH, can make a noticeable difference in the speed with which your new lawn grows, the hardiness in winter and drought, and the ease of on-going care and maintenance. Nevertheless, bermuda grass plugs do well enough in clay, sandy mixes, and rich, loamy soil that assuring a clean, tilled soil bed is usually sufficient to get your bermuda grass plugs off to a good start.
Our simple, easy-to-follow chart below offers a suggested bermuda grass plugs planting plan that should be quite OK for most home and business owners. Remember that local conditions and the amount of care you put into the planting process can affect your results and you should make adjustments accordingly.
Many steps for planting grass are the same. For all of our planting charts, however, we highlight the steps that are specific to the type of grass that is being discussed with a ±so you can quickly focus on the unique planting aspects.
Remove current growth by using a brush or non-selective grass kill product and waiting several days for it to take effect. Alternatively bring in several inches of screened top soil and grade accordingly.
Prepare the soil. Be sure the soil is tilled and loose to a minimum depth of 2 - 3 inches, but ideally 3 - 5 inches. Remove large rocks and roots. Be sure the surface is smooth and angled to direct water run-off away from buildings and to avoid standing water.
Test the soil. Determine the pH of the soil. While many homeowners skip this step, your bermuda grass will establish and grow better with proper pH. For bermuda grass, soil pH ideally should be between 6.5 and 7.5. Soil pH that is much below 6.5 should receive an application of lime. While retail soil test kits are available, your local university extension office can provide a much more accurate analysis and recommendation for your lawn.
Fertilize - A typical starter fertilizer common to big box and mom and pop retails stores is adequate to assure proper nutrients for the new bermuda grass plugs.
Distribute the bermuda grass plugs over the prepared soil per the instructions provided by your source. If no instructions are provided by your vendor, insert the plugs into the soil every six to ten inches apart and alternating the spacing every row like a checkerboard. The number of plugs that you received will dictate the density (closeness) of your spacing but know that the closer you place the plugs the faster the grass will fill in.
Water your bermuda grass plugs immediately after planting. Thereafter, the soil should be kept moist until the plugs germinate and begin to grow. Once the new growth consistently covers the planting area, gradually trim your watering back a day or two at a time. Watch the grass for wilting or discoloring to help monitor when you have reduced your watering too much.
Under ideal conditions, bermuda grass plugs will fill in fairly well within 90 - 120 days but expect a full, hearty turf to take a year or more. Remember, the money you save by plugging is paid for with time.
Mow your new bermuda grass. Allow the blades of grass to reach 2 to 2.5 inches before mowing. Set your mower height to remove no more than 1/4 of the length of the grass. Continue to take only small fractions of the grass length with each mowing which may mean that you need to mow your bermuda grass twice a week for the remainder of the growing season.