Seedheads in lawns are a natural process that can’t be avoided, but keeping your mower blade sharp and applying fertilizer will keep the lawn healthy and looking good. Bermuda seed heads look very similar to some common weeds…make sure you know the difference!
When grass produces seedheads
Seedheads in lawns are a natural process that can’t be avoided, but keeping your mower blade sharp and applying fertilizer will keep the lawn healthy and looking good.
The cool season turfgrasses growing in Michigan have been in full-blown seedhead production mode in the last week. The common lawn grasses, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and tall fescue all produce seedheads as do some grassy weeds like annual bluegrass (Poa annua). Seedhead production requires energy from the plant, so it is likely the turf will not only look stemmy due to the seed stalks, but the turfgrass may even thin out.
Seedheads in turf. Photo credit: Kevin Frank, MSU
Michigan State University Extension says to consider a fertilizer application following the seedhead flush to help the turf recover, especially if you haven’t fertilized yet this spring or fertilized back in April. Keep the mower blade sharp and don’t lower the mowing height to try and remove seedheads. Annual bluegrass produces seedheads below the 1/8-inch mowing height on golf course putting greens, so lowering the mowing height is not going to solve the seedhead problem.
For those that think the lawn is going to be reseeded by the natural seedhead production, think again. Even if the seed was allowed to reach maturity, which would take about four months, allowed to dry, and then harvested, you’d still need to make sure that seed would find a home in the soil in order to germinate. If you need to fill in some areas in your lawn, it’ll be easier and more effective to go buy some seed.
Don’t mistake this for a weed.
A LOT of Bermuda lawns are producing seed heads right now. In fact, it is hard to find a Bermuda lawn that is NOT producing seed heads right now.
Don’t panic. its not a weed! These seed heads look very similar to those produced by common weeds like bluestem, bahia or crabgrass, and many people make the mistake of trying to treat them.
While you don’t need to do any type of treatment, you do need to listen because your lawn is trying to tell you something. When Bermuda produces seed heads, it is a sign of stress. Improper watering, soil compaction, shade, soil temperatures, improper mowing etc. these are all things that could be putting stress on your Bermuda and causing it to seed.
As widespread as Bermuda seeding is right now, it is likely a result of overwatering (too much rain!) and temperature fluctuations. In other words, there is nothing you can do about it. Just keep mowing it every week and it will eventually correct itself. If it doesn’t correct itself as we start to dry out, then it might be time to take a closer look to see if there is a deeper issue.