Buffalo Grass and How to Care for It

Known for its low maintenance and drought-resistant qualities, buffalo grass is a popular pick for parks, residential landscapes, and golf courses. It is a warm-season perennial grass native to the lands of North America; from the Great Plains of Montana to New Mexico, this grass species is prevalent naturally. It is the only native grass that features curling blades and flexibility — a quality that results in dense and turf-like carpets for a rich green lawn. Its first use as a tufted grass dates back as far as the 1930s.

As buffalo grass can be an excellent choice for your home gardens and lawns, let’s have a look at this type of grass in detail, along with some tips for its care and maintenance.

What is Buffalo Grass?

Boutelouadactyloides, more commonly known as the Buffalo Grass, is the only native grass useful as a substitute for tufted grass for lawns. It is a dominant grass in shortgrass prairie and can also be in taller prairies. Characterized by leaves of 8 to 10 inches long, buffalo grass has a beautiful bluish-green look. As the blades are curly, the tuft appears shorter.

Buffalo grass forms an even and dense turf-like look as it spreads by stolons or surface runners. The grass features both pistillate (female) and staminate(male) flowers. Some varieties of this plant are also resistant to weeds and require lesser watering than the traditional grass.

During summers, the grass may turn brown and become dormant in the fall season. It awakens and blooms back in spring as the soil and air get warmer. The most suitable growing season for this plant is between May and September.

Buffalo grass also has a high resistance against a myriad of climatic conditions, especially against cold climates. While it has a higher resistance than any other warm-season grass, it grows the best in warm seasons and dry regions. You can plant buffalo grass with both seed and sod. The cherry on top? It requires minimal to infrequent mowing and maintenance.

Planting Seasons and Tips on How to Plant Buffalo Grass

Indigenous to lands stretching from as far north as Montana to as far south as central Texas, the planting season for buffalo grass has a wide range because of its growing locations. While researchers from the University of Missouri suggest sowing buffalo grass in May and June, growers from Texas recommend April and May as the perfect time for planting this plant. However, unanimously, it is agreed that the most suitable planting season for buffalo grass is late spring to early summers. You may also sow your seeds in July and August with adequate watering; however, we recommend avoiding late-summer plantings.

You may plant seed, sod, or plugs to establish buffalo grass. Generally, horticulturists recommend sod because they consist of Pistillate (female) flowers. By using sod, your lawn will turn out free of spiky male seed heads, making your grass appear more smooth and even. Seeded buffalo grass, on the contrary, features both male and female plants.

To help you plant buffalo grass in the best way possible, have a look at some guidelines and tips below:

  • Sow around 4 to 6 pounds of seed per 1000 square feet. For smaller regions, reduce the number of sowing seeds proportionally. This seeding rate with adequate moisture will result in a beautifully even grass cover in just a few months.
  • Plant plugs on centers of up to 6 to 24 inches long. USDA’s plant fact sheet recommends 12 to 24-inch centers for quick coverage. Sow them at 2 ½ inches deep.
  • Moisturize sod before planting it deep in the soil.
  • Keep your planting area evenly moist. Doing so will help you avoid sogginess and result in denser buffalo grass.
  • Do not use sandy soils or heavy moisturizers.
  • Even though buffalo grass is highly resistant to alkaline soils, heat, and drought-like conditions, we recommend avoiding these.
  • During the early growing stages, buffalo grass needs around 1.5’’ inches of rain every month. Water your land per the requirement.

Types of Buffalo Grass

With over a dozen varieties of buffalo grass available in the market, many people find it hard to pick the right one for their use. Some are better suited for seed propagation, while some for vegetative propagation. Hence, to achieve top-notch appearances for your lawns, parks, or gardens, it is incredibly essential to choose the right one depending on how you want to establish this grass. Have a look at some popular types and their respective use below:

  • Seeding: Bison, Cody, Tatanka, and Plains varieties of Buffalo grass.
  • Vegetative Propagation: 609, Stampede, and Bonniebrae.

You may also consult your local nursery or gardening center to pick the best variety.

How to Care For and Maintain Buffalo Grass

Get a perfect buffalo grass lawn or garden by following the tips and recommendations below for its care and maintenance:

  • Use fertilizers of 1 pound nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Feed your turf at the same rate every June or July.
  • Do not over-water your grass as it is intolerant to moist or soaked soils. We recommend watering with an adequate amount every week instead of daily.
  • You may mow buffalo grass several times a year or leave it for a natural look. We recommend this practice once every week or biweekly to maintain a rich and even tuft in lawns.
  • Maintain a height of 2-3 inches for this plant as it helps the grass compete with weeds.
  • Hand weed your lawns weekly or biweekly.
  • Buffalo grass may require perioding edging.

The Bottomline

As buffalo grass requires little to no maintenance, it can be an excellent pick for people who have little to no time for mowing, watering, or maintaining their lawns. Get the beautiful and even lush-green grass you’ve always wanted by sowing buffalo grass. Do not over-baby this plant and follow the guidelines to take care of it.