Sod Selection for backyard: Dwarf Fescue vs. Bermuda
I am redoing all my backyard and now it finally comes to the lawn. I have only ~300 sq-ft for a small lawn in the backyard. For sod selection, I really like the touch of the Bermuda. It's like the putting green on a golf course and it requires minimal water.
I live the SF Bay Area (not in the cold San Francisco) and we do not get any rain between May and October. But the temperature is seldom above 90F. My patch of lawn does not have any shades above it.
So what is wrong with Bermuda? A lot of people around here seems to be against it and prefer Dwarf Fescue (mixed with 10-20% of Kentucky Blue).
My home was in San Jose and had bermuda for the 3000sf front yard. It looked spectacular in the growing season and of course dead when dormant. Some have luck overseeding in the Fall with ANNUAL rye but it never worked for me. Some golf courses dye it green but to me that looked artificial.
Bermuda grows by rooted rhyzomes that usually do not go very deep. This makes it less resistant to drought conditions. I remember well when N California was on water rationing (and LaLaLand and S California people who get water from N Calfornia were not). You have to mow it short so this further limits its resilience to heat and lack of water.
It should really be mowed with a heavy reel type mower, not a rotary one. The cost of such equipment is substantially more than a rotary mower.
Bermuda is invasive and will be in your flower and ornamental beds if you turn your back on it. I had gardeners so no big deal.
Bermuda is also among the highest maintenance of turfgrasses and requires careful and regular feeding, watering, de-thatching and aerating. You cannot put it on something like the Scotts annual plan and expect much.
If Bermuda turf builds up thatch it is prone to fungus and insects that grow in the thatch. In addition to mechanical de-thatching there are enzymes you can add to break it down but they are costly.
If it were me, I would plant a mix of perennial rye, bluegrass and fescue. That should be a fairly common and available sod mix in your area.