TifGrand Bermuda – Thinning

Q: In November 2011 we cleared out some of the trees in our backyard, brought in top soil, and created an area that looked something similar to an hourglass. There is a gentle slope from the top of the hourglass to the bottom. We laid 2500 sf of TifGrand bermuda sod. The sod looked fantastic during the summer of 2012. Thick and dark green. Needed to be mowed every 4-6 days. Last year (2013) was entirely different. It started thinning out all over, but particularly at the bottom of the hourglass. Our grass maintenance contractor has applied fertilizer, lime, and pre and post emergent at their prescribed rate and frequency. We walked the area at their last visit and they recommended spreading 1-2 inches of sand over the entire hourglass. What would be your recommendation? The area gets a total of 4-6 hrs of sun per day.

A: I think you are on the edge of having too little light to make TifGrand bermuda thrive. It would do better if it had 6 – 8 hours of high shade. That said, it also looks like erosion is a problem. The rains of 2013 certainly could have washed away much of the sod/topsoil.

I see no benefit from spreading sand.

Your best option might be to replace the bermuda with zoysia. ‘Zeon’ zoysia seems to tolerate shade better than most.