Bermuda grass is among the toughest, most hard-wearing grass types that are perfect for lawns that get heavy foot traffic.
It’s far from the easiest grass to grow, but once you get it going, it fends for itself, outcompeting the most invasive of weed species.
For it to do that, it absolutely needs full sun. Six hours at least, unless you grow a hybrid variety.
What’s a true Bermuda grass? How’s it different from hybrid types, and does every single grass sprig need full sun every day?
Find out all that and more in the explanatory notes below all about the sunlight Bermuda grass needs to flourish.
How much sun does Bermuda grass need?
Bermuda grass needs 6 hours direct sunlight daily. Hybrid varieties of Bermuda grass have been cultivated for shade-resistance. Some can get by with 4-hours direct sunlight. Without enough sun, weeds can takeover. When that’s the case, an alternative shade tolerant grass type is needed.
Signs that Bermuda grass isn’t getting enough sunlight
If you’re finding it difficult to keep weeds out of Bermuda grass, chances are, it’s lacking the sunlight it needs to thrive.
Healthy Bermuda grass can choke out weeds. When it’s weakened, often because of a lack of sunlight, it won’t have the strength to outcompete weeds for survival.
When that happens…
- The lawn will thin out
- Individual sprigs will be elongated
- Moss, thatch and weeds can take over
The main cause is that morning dew sits on the leaves for longer, leaving it susceptible to fungal infections. That can be why Bermuda grass turns brown and spreads.
Sunlight doesn’t just help photosynthesis. It speeds up the drying process, preventing fungal spores from germinating.
Preventing moss overtaking your lawn
When Bermuda grass is growing in shaded areas, its blades are thin and brittle so it struggles to grow.
In a weakened state, it’s difficult to keep weeds out of Bermuda grass because healthy grass fends for itself. When it can’t, moss is quick to move in and takeover.
Moss won’t choke out grass blades, but it will block the little sunlight the grass could get. More importantly, it’ll deprive the soil of moisture.
When moss is on top of your grass, it’s easier for the moss to spread than it is the grass.
Three things contribute to moss crowding Bermuda…
- Clay soil
- Soil saturation (caused by clay soil)
Bermuda grass has the polar opposite needs of moss. Moss thrives in saturated soil in shaded areas.
When you start to see moss taking over, check your soil acidity. It should be between 6.0 and 6.5. Any more acidic, Bermuda grass won’t be getting the nutrients it needs from the soil.
Even applying the best fertilizers for Bermuda grass won’t work on soil on either side of 6.0 and 6.5 on the pH scale.
Moss will thrive though, which is how it’s able to overtake your lawn. Particularly in shaded locations, such as trying to grow grass under trees or bushes with large canopies, or even alongside a tall fence.
How to grow Bermuda grass in shaded parts of a lawn
Wherever you see Bermuda grass struggle to grow, it’s either going to need more direct sunlight, or a soil amendment added to improve drainage. Namely, sand.
Bermuda grass thrives in a sandy loamy type soil because it has superior drainage.
Have a look around the patch of lawn that’s struggling to see what’s blocking the sunlight.
Common problems for blocking sunlight are tall fence panels and patches of grass growing under the canopy of a bush tree or shrub.
If your lawn’s being shaded by a bush or tree canopy, pruning up to expose the ground to more sunlight may be an option, but only if it’s not at the risk of over-pruning which can kill shrubs and young trees.
Alternatives for patches of shaded lawns is to either transform it into a planting bed, or grow an alternative grass. Numerous plants can thrive shaded locations.
If you do decide to turn a shady patch into a planting bed, building a raised bed will make your life easier.
The tenacious nature of Bermuda grass can see its runners get into your flower bed. Then, you’ll be trying to grow in the ground, but kill it in your flower bed.
Raising planters off the ground puts a barrier between the rhizomes and stolons, helping prevent Bermuda growing into your flower bed.
If you don’t want to build up, use alternative ground coverings for shaded locations.
Alternative grasses that favor shade
This is more tolerant to shade, but it’s also a completely different shade of green. It’s a lighter green than Bermuda grass, which is always a deep true green throughout the season.
St. Augustine would be an alternative grass type for under bush canopies, or perhaps as a border grass around a fence perimeter.
Zoysia grass is another tough type that’s shade tolerant, and goes dormant in the winter, too. Both grasses green up at the same each year. In the spring.
When they’re dormant, zoysia turns more golden brown, richer than the tan brown hue Bermuda grass goes when it’s in dormancy. When they’re green, they’re both similar shades.
In partially shaded parts of your garden, such as around fencing or under plant canopies, zoysia can be a workable alternative.
Use a hybrid Bermuda grass
Various Bermuda grass hybrids are available, but for shade resistance, the one with the highest shade tolerance is TifGrand®. It prefers full sun for 4 to 6 hours daily.
Like other grass types, the shades of green will be different. The advantage of hybrid Bermuda grass is that they can get by with less than 6 hours (full sun), but the very least they need is four hours.
Four hours sunlight is only applicable to hybrid Bermuda grass varieties. True Bermuda grass needs at least six hours direct sunlight, preferably more.
Frequently Asked Questions related to how much sun Bermuda grass needs?
Do runners help Bermuda grass grow in shade?
Bermuda grass can spread to shaded areas. This is because the roots spread above and below ground. The runners (stolons) above ground can spread over weak weeds. New grass sprigs sprouting from runners rather than from the rhizomes beneath the soil won’t be as strong in shaded areas.
How do I increase sunlight absorption in Bermuda grass?
The longer the grass blades are, the easier it is for Bermuda blades to photosynthesize. For that reason, in areas that get dappled sunlight, rather than direct sun, mow at a higher height. The bigger the blade and leaf, the more surface mass there’ll be to capture sunlight and store heat.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.