What is Buffalo Grass?
Buffalo grass as the new lawn alternative, Buchloe dactyloides, is a perennial grass native to North America. In Texas, this grass is found from the south central region to the High Plains region. It requires full sun but can withstand partial shade. It is a warm season grass that becomes dormant in cold temperatures, which may turn brown from mid-fall through mid-spring. Buffalo grass is fine-textured, curly, vibrant, and dark green in color. You can grow buffalo grass lawns by seeding (burs) or laying sod.
Buffalo grass is dioecious. It has both male and female plants. Male plants contain stamens while female plants contain pistils. These male and female plants produce seeds. Male (Staminate) plants are white-colored, have a flag type, one-sided spike pollen head while female (Pistillate) plants are often green-colored, and have short spikes. Buffalo being a dioecious grass mean it has both male and female plants. Usually found in patches. Poor germination of seeds or burs may affect the production of buffalo grass.
Is Buffalo Grass A Good Grass For Austin Lawns?
Buffalo grass is a common alternative to other types of grass that are commonly used in Austin, namely St. Augustine, Zoysia, Ryegrass, and Bermuda grass. Good news for Austin homeowners who are looking for a type of grass that requires less irrigation. Buffalo grass could be the perfect one for you as it is drought tolerant and can tolerate extreme temperatures.
Know more about Bufflograss below:
Strengths: Heat and drought tolerant, very cold tolerant, low maintenance, invulnerable to diseases.
Weaknesses: Intolerant of excessive foot traffic, not recommended in high rainfall areas, difficult to establish from seed, intolerant of sandy soils, prone to weed invasion during dormant season
Buffalo Grass Installation
Buffalo grass can be installed anytime of the year but ideally in Spring. Buffalo sod needs to be installed right after it is delivered as it dries out fast especially in hot weather. If the weather is hot on the day of the installation, lay the turf in sections and water each section. It takes about two weeks for the buffalo grass to establish. Ensure proper watering to avoid root rot, diseases, and weeds. According to Colorado State University Extension, proper irrigation is crucial during the root formation period.
It can be difficult to establish buffalo grass from seed as it has often low germination rate. Treated seed germination however is much higher. That is why it is important to treat the seed and should be planted in dry conditions. Ideally during spring and summer. It takes 7 to 10 days for the seed to germinate. Buffalo seeding rate is 1-3 pounds per 1,000 square feet at a depth of half an inch or less. Make sure that the soil to be used is rock and debris free.
Buffalo Grass Maintenance
Buffalo grass is low growing, usually reaches about 12 inches long but drapes over which makes the turf appear short. It requires little maintenance. There is no need for frequent mowing and watering as the grass simply needs a moderate amount of moisture. One inch of water per week is enough to maintain a healthy green buffalo grass turf. Buffalo grass can be mowed up to 3 inches high. Although, be mindful of the weeds that buffalo grass tends to get. Regular fertilization and hand weeding are key to this problem.
How to repair a damaged buffalo lawn?
As we have mentioned, one of the weaknesses of buffalo grass is that, it is intolerant of excessive foot traffic. Foot traffic by us, and even by our little furry friends may damage our buffalo lawn. Simply because it may cause soil compaction. Once the soil is compacted, it will affect the rate of water infiltration and drainage.
Core Aeration and Organic Fertilization! Core Aeration alleviates soil compaction which helps oxygen, water, and nutrients penetrate deeper into the ground. Fertilize every three months, and aerate once or twice a year. Consider re-levelling any lower areas after aerating to avoid lumps and an uneven lawn. An uneven lawn can be challenging to mow.
Buffalo lawns have the ability to resist weeds. But they sometimes grow in buffalo lawns typically in summer and winter.
Kill those nasty weeds by pulling them out by hand while they are still small because once they grow bigger and set seed, it becomes difficult to get rid of them. Control them while you still can as they can spread all over your lawn quickly. If you want to be extra cautious. you can fertilize your lawn using organic fertilizer once every three months.
Buffalo grass losing its beautiful color?
Buffalo grass turning brown in cold temperatures or due to poor maintenance is inevitable.
Proper lawn care maintenance! While buffalo lawns are low maintenance, do not take them for granted. It is important to ensure that you give your lawn the proper care it needs: Regular fertilization, mowing, and correct watering. Water your lawn daily for about 15 minutes per zone if you have irrigation or 30 minutes per area if watering by hand. Especially if it is very hot outside.
Please keep in mind that buffalo grass is only recommended for areas that are not used regularly. It will not grow in areas that are used heavily as it will lead to deterioration of the quality of buffalo grass.