How to Get Rid of Bermudagrass in Zoysiagrass Lawns

As you walk across your Zoysia lawn, admiring the carpet-like feel beneath your feet, something catches your eye. You move in close. Wait… that’s not Zoysia. What is that? Your stomach drops, it's BERMUDAGRASS!!Michael Scott NoUnfortunately, in the South, Bermuda grass in Zoysia lawns is all too common of an issue. Maybe you didn’t effectively kill off the old lawn before installing your new lawn? Maybe your lawn is right next to your neighbor's Bermuda? Either way, Bermuda is making its way into your Zoysia! Luckily, there are options to get rid of that Bermudagrass in your Zoysia lawn.

Option 1: Fusilade II Turf & Ornamental Herbicide

This is a tricky option to give a lawn care do-it-yourselfer, but it is an arrow in your quiver to possibly eliminate that pesky Bermudagrass from your Zoysiagrass.

"Fusilade II" at reduced rates is labelled to suppress and kill Bermuda in Zoysia lawns. I want you to focus on that “reduced rate" phrase. Because of that, I highly recommend you not apply this by yourself but hire someone with a chemical applicators license who knows what they are doing. I am leery of anybody utilizing this product who does not have much experience in mixing the correct ratios. If improperly mixed, Fusilade will certainly kill the Zoysia. Knowing Bermuda like I do, it would somehow manage to stay alive.

Keep in mind that Fusilade II has a side effect of yellowing Zoysia and it normally takes several applications to stunt/kill Bermuda with sometimes disappointing results. 

Some homeowners and professional applicators swear by this chemical. Others have used it over several years and have not seen great results. I am in the not-so-impressed group. From my experience, Fusilade II does not tend to kill the Bermuda as much as stunt it for a short period of time. The idea is that the weakened Bermuda will be outcompeted by the Zoysia with proper mowing and fertilizing of the Zoysia.

"Recognition" is a new product that when used in conjunction with Fusilade II is better at eliminating Bermudagrass from Zoysia lawns. While recognition is not cheap, we see more dead Bermuda and do not see the damage to Zoysia like when Fusilade II is used alone. Sometimes a second dose is needed. Just like for Fusilade II, we recommend you call a professional applicator to apply Recognition.


Option 2: Non-Selective Herbicide & Sod Replacement

This option is best used when the Bermudagrass infestation is limited to certain areas of the Zoysiagrass lawn.

Using a non-selective herbicide (one that will kill any plant it touches - many options are available at big box stores), spray the Zoysia lawn infested with the Bermudagrass. This might take several applications over a couple weeks to ensure that the Bermuda is in fact dead. Bermuda is a very tough plant that can resist even multiple applications of herbicide.

Once you are sure the Bermuda is killed, then till the area and rake out the remaining dead vegetation. Throw down some Soil³ compost and lay your newly purchased Zoysia rolls in the area, then water until they are rooted.

We sell sod by individual rolls to make patching areas easier for you. Each roll covers 10 square feet.
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Option 3: Design Solutions

If you'd like to avoid repeat chemical solutions for Bermuda grass control, maybe you can clear out the area where the encroachment is coming from. You could plant a flower bed between the two types of lawn to make it easier to mechanically edge and tame the Bermuda runners that are spreading into your Zoysia lawn. Plant shrubs, annuals, wildflowers, or whatever your heart desires.

I HIGHLY recommend using our Soil³ compost to help give those plants the nutrient foundation to sustain themselves over the years. In creating these ornamental beds, it becomes an easy way to maintain a distinct area of separation between the two competing varieties.

A flower bed maintained with a mechanical edging routine to keep Zoysiagrass runners from spreading. The same technique applies to Bermudagrass lawns.zenith-zoysia-lawn-with-annual-border

Option 4: Live with it!

The last option is just to let it be there. I have always heard that “one will choke out the other” eventually. As in the Bermuda will take over the Zoysia.

From my experience, I have simply seen them coexist. You might have areas that are more dominated by Bermuda and others where Zoysia is dominant.

If you choose to live with it, here's how to cultivate the prettiest lawn possible:

  • Mowing Height: Because Bermuda and Zoysia have overlapping mowing heights, mowing is not much of a concern. If you mow your blended lawn at 1 to 1.5 inches tall, they'll both look good.
  • Mowing Frequency: Bermuda grows fast so we recommend mowing it every 4 to 7 days; Zoysia is slower so we recommend mowing it every 7 to 10 days. Therefore, if you stick to a weekly, 7-day schedule for your mixed Zoysia/Bermuda lawn, you'll provide optimal mowing frequency for a pretty lawn.
  • Fertilization: This aspect is a little trickier since Bermuda requires one more application of fertilizer than Zoysia does. With that in mind, we recommend erring on the side of caution and following our Zoysia fertilization schedule as seen in our Lawn Coach schedule (you can print it!).
  • Pre-emergent Herbicide: They will both benefit from applications of pre-emergent in February, April, and September to prevent weeds from germinating.
  • Fungicide: They will both benefit from an application of preventative fungicide in October, but in April you could spread it only on your Zoysia.

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Note on Fine Texture Grasses: If both your Zoysia and the Bermuda blades are the fine-textured types, then most people will not even notice the Bermuda stolons crawling into your Zoysia. Besides the very different feeling when you're walking on them (Zoysia is noticeably softer underfoot), the color difference between fine-textured Zoysia and Bermuda is most visible in the morning when there's dew on the ground that brings out the gray-green color of Bermuda. In fact, we had to wait for a dew to snap the photo at the top otherwise they are too similar to make an interesting picture.

Note on Coarser Texture Grasses: If there is a coarse-textured Bermuda crawling into a fine-textured Zoysia, then you'll definitely see the difference. If you cannot live with that, follow the tips in Options 1-3.

We hope these four options help you attain the Zoysia lawn of your dreams. If you have remaining questions, don’t hesitate to ask them here!

Photos by Hillary Thompson.