Drought tolerant and not picky about the soil in which it grows, Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) makes a great lawn. It’s soft but tough enough to stand up to kids, pets, and other traffic. A warm-season turf, Bermuda grass grows well in southern regions but can hold its own as far north as USDA growing zones 5 and 6.
While this vining-grass species spreads easily from its roots (often causing problems if it works its way into garden beds or crops), it also creates a uniform lawn that requires minimal care. For the healthiest and best-looking Bermuda grass, apply lawn fertilizer to give the grass all the nutrients it needs to stay green and lush. Ahead, learn what to look for when shopping for the best fertilizer for Bermuda grass, and find out why the following products are all great choices for feeding this tough turf.
- BEST OVERALL: Scotts Southern Turf Builder Lawn Food
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Lawn Food, 5 lb.
- BEST ORGANIC: Milorganite 0636 Organic Nitrogen Fertilizer 32-Pound
- BEST WITH SPRAYER: Simple Lawn Solutions Lawn Energizer Micronutrient
- BEST NITROGEN: Simple Lawn Solutions Maximum Green High Nitrogen
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Fertilizer for Bermuda Grass
Many types of Bermuda grass require fertilizing only once or twice per growing season to reach their full potential. Some of the new hybrid forms of Bermuda grass, such as Midway, Tifway, or Tifgreen, will benefit from more frequent applications. Several commercial turf fertilizers work well on Bermuda grass. Lawn caretakers can take their pick based on their preference for a certain application type or natural versus chemical ingredients.
Lawn fertilizers come in three main types: liquid, granular, and water-soluble. Each has its benefits and drawbacks.
- Liquid: This type of fertilizer gives Bermuda grass a quick burst of nutrients. That’s because the grass absorbs liquid fertilizers through its foliage, which is the quickest way into the plant. But the grass may require more frequent application of this short-lived fertilizer. Liquid fertilizers come in full-strength and concentrated forms for use with a garden-type pump sprayer or a hose-end dispenser.
- Granular: Dry granular fertilizers come in tiny pebbles for application with push-type spreaders. Some formulations dissolve slowly to release nutrients over time. Granular fertilizers don’t offer the quick-fix that liquids do, but their effects may last longer and allow for less frequent applications.
- Water-soluble: Water-soluble fertilizers come in packages of sand-like bits that dissolve quickly in water. The product goes into a hose-end dispenser. That way, the lawnkeeper can fertilize and water the grass at once. This type of fertilizer works well in small yards that a hose can fully access.
Commercial lawn and yard fertilizers contain premeasured quantities of nitrogen (N), which stimulates leafy green growth; phosphorus (P), which plays a vital role in flower and fruit production; and potassium (K), which boosts overall plant health. These three nutrients are listed on the fertilizer package by weight.
The best fertilizer for Bermuda grass will have an N-P-K ratio that’s high in nitrogen, contains little or no phosphorus, and may include a small amount of potassium. For example, an NPK ratio of 16-0-8 contains 16 percent nitrogen, no phosphorus, and 8 percent potassium. This is a great ratio for Bermuda grass.
Organic vs. Synthetic
Most lawn fertilizers contain synthetic, or “inorganic,” ingredients, but a handful of options contain natural ingredients.
- Organic: Natural lawn fertilizers contain various blends of nonchemical nutrients, such as poultry manure, compost, livestock manure, and earthworm castings. They often cost more because the ingredients require more work to collect, treat, and turn into fertilizer. Most organic fertilizers come in granule form. These natural products won’t harm plants or aquatic life if they drain off into waterways.
- Synthetic: Formulated in a lab with chemicals or artificial versions of natural ingredients, synthetic fertilizers contain concentrated nutrients, such as potassium, sulfur, and nitrogen. Some brands contain other minerals, including calcium or boron to increase soil health. Excess nitrogen runoff from synthetic fertilizers may harm fish if it gets into waterways and ponds.
The first fertilizer application of the year should be after late spring or early summer once the grass is fully green. At this time, growers can apply an all-purpose lawn fertilizer with a high ratio of nitrogen (the N number in N-P-K) according to the instructions on the package. If you intend to overseed with more Bermuda grass seed, wait 2 weeks after fertilizing. In midsummer, Bermuda grass could use another application of fertilizer.
In fall, apply a third round of fertilizer. For a fall application, use a lawn fertilizer containing potassium as well as nitrogen, such as a 15-0-8 formulation. The added potassium will help the grass resist disease and remain strong before going dormant for the winter.
For the best long-term results, consider having the soil tested for deficiencies and add additional nutrients as needed. In most communities, growers can take soil samples to their local County Extension Agency for a comprehensive soil test and nutrient recommendations.
Our Top Picks
Fertilizer increases the color uniformity of Bermuda grass and helps develop a thick, dense turf. The following fertilizers bring out the best in lawns, and any one of them will help a Bermuda grass lawn thrive.
For a boost of healthy growth, consider Scotts Southern Turf Builder Lawn Food with a nitrogen-rich NPK ratio of 32-0-10. The granulated fertilizer covers up to 10,000 square feet with a push-type spreader. Southern Turf Builder’s All-In-One particles help protect against drought and cultivate a thick green lawn. This fertilizer helps improve a lawn’s ability to absorb water and nutrients, and it’s safe to walk on the lawn immediately after applying Turf Builder.
Apply the product at the rate recommended on the package, and water well after application if rain isn’t in the forecast.
Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Lawn Food works well on small and midsize yards that a garden hose can access. This easy-to-apply product goes into a hose-end dispenser. Simply fill the dispenser with the water-soluble granules, attach a garden hose, and spray the lawn in a uniform pattern to disperse the 30-0-6 NPK fertilizer. Miracle-Gro’s formulation gives Bermuda grass a quick boost of nitrogen-rich nutrients to promote dense, green growth. The 5-pound package contains four individual packets; each one feeds up to 1,800 square feet of lawn at the recommended application rate.
Feel good about applying Milorganite Organic Fertilizer that packs a nitrogen-rich punch without any synthetic or chemical ingredients. A composted manure-based organic fertilizer, it improves lawn health with its rich 6-4-0 NPK ratio without polluting waterways or harming aquatic life in ponds and streams. A 32-pound bag covers up to 2,500 square feet of Bermuda grass when applied at the recommended rate. This granular fertilizer goes in a push-spreader.
Simple Lawn Solutions’ Lawn Energizer comes with its own 32-ounce spray jug that attaches to a garden hose for easy application. The concentrated liquid fertilizer treats up to 3,200 square feet of grass. With a 6-0-0 NPK ratio, this formulation contains iron and micronutrients to improve soil composition and encourage dense turf growth. Lawn Energizer promotes deep green color in all grass species, including Bermuda grass.
Maximum Green’s nitrogen-rich 28-0-0 NPK ratio delivers an instant surge of green grass growth. The concentrated liquid includes 70 percent quick-release nutrients and 30 percent slow-release nutrients to keep Bermuda grass lawns healthy between feedings. This high-nitrogen fertilizer comes in a 32-ounce hose-end dispenser jug for easy spray application over 3,200 square feet of lawn. For grass suffering from nitrogen deficiency (look for yellowing or pale green grass blades) slow growth, or sparsity, high-nitrogen fertilizer like Maximum Green can help.
FAQs About Fertilizer for Bermuda Grass
Bermuda grass lawns thrive in warm temps, but without the proper nutrients, they may look sickly and sparse. A good turf fertilizer boosts Bermuda grass lawns and encourages dense green growth. Before you make your product choice, here are answers to the most common questions about the best fertilizer for Bermuda grass.
Q. How often should I fertilize my Bermuda grass?
It depends on the fertilizer’s potency and whether it’s a quick- or slow-release formula. In general, Bermuda grass needs fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks.
Q. When is the best time to fertilize my Bermuda grass?
Don’t fertilize until late spring when Bermuda grass is fully green. Reapply fertilizer in midsummer and fall or more often depending on the fertilizer’s strength.
Q. How do I apply fertilizer to my lawn?
Use a pump-type sprayer or a hose-end sprayer to apply liquid fertilizer. Use a push-spreader for granular fertilizers.
Q. Can I apply fertilizer to wet grass?
In most cases, yes. The only time to wait would be after heavy rain when water is still running off the lawn because the fertilizer could wash away.
Q. Do you have to water after fertilizing?
Most granular fertilizers can remain on the lawn for a couple of days before watering, but check the instructions to be sure.