Bermuda grass (Cynodon spp.), which grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 10, does best in hot climates with winters that rarely reach freezing, lest it browns over and takes on the appearance of Dust Bowl prairie. If your Bermuda grass develops brown patchy spots in winter, you probably need to overseed it. But before overseeding, you need to aerate the soil, which, in landscaping, simply means poking holes in it to improve permeability. Bermuda grass requires some preparation before you can aerate it and remove soil plugs, like pulling up the suffocating layer of thatch that builds up underneath it.
Things You'll Need
- Lawn mower
- Yard rake
- Dethatching rake
- Verticutter or powered dethatcher (optional)
Mow the Bermuda grass with the lawn mower blades at their lowest setting, or at the setting that cuts as close to the ground as possible, in early summer when the grass grows vigorously. Attach the grass collection bag to your mower, if possible.
Rake the yard vigorously and remove the clippings. Raking vigorously also helps loosen the thatch covering the soil surface. You can add the debris to your compost pile, if you wish.
Water your lawn just enough to moisten the soil about 1/2 inch deep. A little moisture makes dethatching the yard easier.
Pull a dethatching rake across the yard in rows in one direction. Lift the dethatching rake every few feet, pull the collected thatch from the tines and place it in a pile. Pull the dethatching rake across the yard a second time, this time in rows perpendicular to the first. Dethatch using a verticutter or powered dethatcher if you have a large lawn or if manual dethatching is too difficult. Space the verticutter or dethatcher blades 1 inch apart and adjust them so they cut 1 inch deep in the soil. Run the dethatcher or verticutter across the yard in rows and again up and down the lawn.
Rake the yard vigorously and collect the loosened thatch, using a yard rake for the job. You can also add these to the compost pile or put them in the garden waste trash can. Put them in the trash if your area doesn't have garden waste collection.
Water the soil to moisten it to a depth of 1 inch. Moistening the soil surface helps keep the plugs from sticking in the hollow tines of the aerator.
Tips & Warnings
- Wear safety goggles and long pants when operating a lawn dethatcher and aerator.
- Always follow the tool rental agency's instructions, safety precautions and guidelines for use when adjusting or operating rented lawn dethatching equipment.
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Cynodon Dactylon "Sundevil"
- University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Bermudagrass (Seeded and Hybrid Species) — Cynodon Spp.
- University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Closely Mow the Turf and Rake up Debris
- University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Dethatching Methods
- Walter Reeves: Bermuda -- Aerating
- Photo Credit John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images