Why won’t my bermuda grass germinate?

So many things can go wrong when you are trying to perform a lawn renovation. You are probably starting with a lawn that has weeds or has issues in the first place, Next you have to get rid of the weeds, treat the soil to get it to where you need it to be for the grass to grow. Then you have to spread the seed, protect it, and make sure it’s watered properly in order for the seed to germinate. In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, we hear from one entrepreneur who really had a heck of a time getting all the variables right and lost quite a bit of time and money when things went wrong. Hopefully by reading what went wrong for him, you can avoid the same issues and find success quicker.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I recently tried renovating a yard and the grass is not coming up after one month. I scalped it, sprayed it with a nonselective herbicide, waited a week and sprayed again, mowed, and bagged it several days later. I applied a bag of Scott’s premium seed rated for 5,000 - 15,000 sqft even though the lady’s yard is only 3,500 sqft, covered with straw, and set 2 sprinklers to water for 30 minutes every morning. It looks horrible. I tried seeding it last July after only spraying to kill the weeds. I used a power rake and the grass only came up in 1/3 of the yard and I assumed it was because I waited too long. This time I had the seed on the dirt.

What’s the trick with Bermuda? She’s a widow from my church and she can’t afford sod and I work by myself. What should I do? Her yard is still a wasteland.

I talked to the owner of the garden center I bought the herbicide from and reread the product labels and they all agreed that what I sprayed does nothing to the soil. Killzall said ‘This product has no soil activity and thus will not affect nearby untreated plants or sterilize the soil.’ The Roundup label said planting is safe 1 day later. I was told Roundup was invented by farmers so they could spray and plant in the same day.

I usually just overseed so I don’t have much experience with renovations. The seed seedlings begin to come up after 2-3 weeks and I was thinking the lawn should already look full but short. Maybe I’m just being impatient. When I went to her yard yesterday I did see some baby Bermuda here and there.

I removed most of the straw, scattered 1/2 the recommended amount of seed over the yard, adjusted the sprinklers to run for 15 minutes every 6 hours (it was either 6 or 12 with the timers). The garden center owner told me he thought the water might be inadequate. I haven’t measured it with rain gauges. We’ve had temps in the 90’s lately and he said to have the home owner make sure the ground never looked dry and crusty. He also suspected I might have applied too much straw. He said if the straw forms a mat then the seed won’t germinate because it needs sun.

The thing is, the client asked for straw and I did for her. I heard straw is good because it helps keep things moist (but shade is supposedly bad so how does that work?) I also heard hay is not good because it has seed head and all sorts of things will start to grow. What they gave me still looked like wheat or grain and they didn’t have 2 different stacks. It was expensive, dusty and a pain so I don’t think I’ll use it again.”

A second lawn care business owner said “I hate to tell you this but you wasted your money on the seed. From my experience, you have to wait at least three weeks after you last spray roundup to plant new seed, 4 or 5 weeks would be better. It takes that long for the glyosphate to dissipate in the soil.”

A third shared “from what you are saying it sounds like where you went wrong was with the lack off watering. That seed needs to stay moist. I have never use hay to overseed a lawn and I have 99.00% success growing Bermuda and Centipede grass, spreading the hay may has effected your seeds ability to germinate.

You also need to water at least 3 times a day for around 15 min for at least 7 straight days. The seed needs to be humid to germinate.

I’m sure you will have nice grass by the end of fall. Most of the existing lawn will benefit from that watering and some of that seed might pop out here or there. I grow grass for a 60% of my existing clientele. Try to buy yourself a lawn aerator. Spread the seed before the aerating procedure. Water 7 to 15 days in a row and you’ll have nice lawns. Customers love when the lawn grows nicely and it’s awesome for advertisement purposes.”

Read more about Lawn Care Business Bidding Tips, Upsells, And Disasters To Avoid. Learn how to improve your bidding process with this lawn care business book and be prepared before hand by knowing what you should be looking out for before a problem occurs.”

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