Planting buffalograss is now, believe it or not. It is one of the few native prairie grasses suitable for low-maintenance lawns and turf areas. It thrives in our clay soils and stays at a low level.
The arboretum has benefited from the established buffalograss stands that we maintain. During the growth season, the fine leaves remain a lovely blue-green, and it requires less mowing, watering, and fertilizing than our fescue or bluegrass lawns.
Newer buffalograss cultivars (Bowie, Cody, and Sundancer) green up faster in the spring, stay green longer in the fall, spread quickly by stolons to cover a planting area, and grow shorter. As a result, they require less mowing.
Once established, we’ve discovered it to be a hardy, long-lasting alternative to many cool-season grasses. It thrives in hot, dry circumstances and even survived the 2012 drought. In the following weeks, we will be planting some more areas to buffalograss.
Low growing – Depending on the type, buffalo grass can reach a height of 3 to 8 inches.
Low Fertility Requirements – Unlike other varieties of lawn grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue, which require 4 to 6 lbs of nitrogen per year, mature buffalo grass only requires 1 to 2 lbs of nitrogen per 1000 square feet each year.
Water conservation – Buffalo grass is a drought resistant grass species in addition to having a low fertility demand.
It goes dormant and revives as soon as there is enough moisture during the summer drought, but it should be irrigated regularly if you want a lush green lawn all summer.
Few insect concerns – Buffalo grass attracts few pests and insects, however chinch bugs can be a nuisance in some kinds.
Buffalo grass can be grown from seed or sod, and the best time to plant is in April or May. Buffalo grass sod is often composed of female plants in order to prevent the spikey male heads from sprouting.
If you seed your grass, though, you will have both male and female plants. The recommended rate for broadcast Buffalo grass seed is 4 to 6 lbs per 1000 square feet.
Buffalo grass may take two to three weeks or more to germinate. It is important to water your grass frequently during this period until a good strand develops.
Many people who have successfully established a buffalo grass lawn used straw mulch or another sort of mulch to protect the young seedlings while they germinated.
Because they are native to moister places than New Mexico, bluegrass and fescue lawn grass are genetically engineered to develop their leaves first and hence establish more quickly.
Native grasses, such as buffalo grass, grow their root system first, thus their leaves develop slowly and germinate over time. After a sufficient number of seeds have germinated, you can lessen the frequency of irrigation while continuing to water deeply.
Here are some ways to ensure a favorable outcome when planting a buffalograss lawn:
Buffalograss grows best with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day and well-drained soil. It will not grow well in low regions with standing water or in areas that are shaded. If it is unhappy, you are likely to be upset with its overall appearance.
Your planting area should be as weed-free as possible, just like a flower garden. We have discovered that applying Round-Up numerous times in the spring before planting is the most effective way to control weeds, particularly Bermuda grass and bindweed. We also lightly till the space (1/4-1/2 inch deep) before planting so that there is enough loose soil to just cover the seed. Keep in mind that every time the soil is tilled, fresh weed seeds grow and must be eliminated before the seed may be distributed.
Every year, new forms are discovered and introduced, although the arboretum’s forms of choice have been Cody, Bowie, and Bison. We sowed them in June or July, using 2-3 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet.
Buffalograss requires soil temperatures exceeding 600 degrees Fahrenheit to get started. We usually spread half of the seed in one direction and the other half perpendicular to the first half. To ensure adequate seed-to-soil contact, we lightly rake the area and then pack it in (drive over the entire planting with a mower or tractor).
We thoroughly water the entire area the first time to totally soak the soil (just to the point where water runs off), and then follow with frequent light watering till the seeds germinate in 14-21 days. Infrequent deep soakings after germination will keep the young seedlings expanding. An area can be completely established from seed in the first year.
These new varieties of Buffalograss thrive in our climate. They grow a thick, dense grass that can outcompete weeds in optimal conditions. Weeds can become an issue in marginal areas, necessitating weed control using herbicides or physical eradication. In the fall, we use a broadleaf weed control to eradicate henbit, dandelions, bindweed, and other broadleaf weeds. Weed management in your buffalograss before planting and throughout the first few years following establishment will reduce future weed control, watering, mowing, and overall upkeep.
Buffalograss is a great turf for open, sunny regions, but it is not a miraculous grass that will solve all of your lawn problems. Because it is native to our area, the natural appearance of this native grass should be admired. It should also be planted with the goal of requiring less financial investment and less labor to maintain a dense, attractive turf. For these reasons, we consider buffalograss to be a low-maintenance lawn option worth cultivating.
In the summer, buffalo grass should be mowed every 5 to 7 days. If your grass is in good condition, you don’t need to mow as frequently, but every two weeks during the summer should suffice.
You must keep track of mowing times and make certain that you do not skip any periods on your buffalo grass mowing schedule during the summer, since skipping mowing times will make mowing more difficult, produce a big number of clippings, grow a thatch layer, and cause damage to the lawn after mowing.
As winter approaches, the rate at which buffalo grass grows slows significantly, requiring you to adapt your mowing plan accordingly. Buffalo grass does not need to be cut as frequently in the winter as it does in the summer, but every four weeks is sufficient.
Buffalo grass lawns can be deceptive in appearance throughout the winter, as it may appear that the turfgrass is not growing, yet it is strengthening itself in its thatch layer despite not developing additional leaf.
There are many varieties of buffalo grass available on the market, allowing you to select the one that best meets your needs.
Prestige Buffalo® Grass is the perfect choice for year-round aficionados of dark green, soft leaf lawn. It was developed from the world’s most popular buffalo, Palmetto, and contains several excellent characteristics that make it a popular choice. Prestige Buffalo offers a high shade tolerance, with up to 70% tolerance in low wear zones and 50% tolerance in moderate to high wear areas.
Sapphire Buffalo® is an Australian bred fine leaf textured turf with exceptional shade tolerance, unrivaled softness, and robust climatic and wear and tear tolerance. Sapphire Buffalo has the ultimate luxury feel, requires less mowing, is hardy, and is drought tolerant.
Palmetto Buffalo grass has soft broad leaves and requires less watering and mowing than most turf species. It has a remarkable dark emerald color that stands out throughout the winter. Palmetto Buffalo is drought resilient and efficient water consumer due to its deep-rooted system.
Buffalo grass is worth considering if you want a lawn that will thrive in nearly any environment. Plant buffalo grass from seed, plugs, or sod, which can be costly and may necessitate professional assistance.