Buffalo GrassBy: Roxanne Nichols
There are few grasses native to the United States that can be grown as a lawn. Buffalo grass is native to the central portion of the country, and as such, can be grown as a thick, drought-tolerant lawn in the central U.S. It is a warm-season grass, so it will go dormant during the winter.
Watering Buffalo GrassOut of all of the types of lawn grass one could grow, buffalo grass has the lowest maintenance requirements. Once it is established, it needs to be watered infrequently-generally during the hot summer months of June, July and August. Two inches of water every other week should hold a well established buffalo grass lawn. If anything, this grass prefers to be on the dry side, rather than the wet side. It does not grow well in poorly drained soils.
Feeding Buffalo GrassThis type of grass does well on infertile soils. It requires between ½ and 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, per growing season. Soil that is too fertile can lead to pest and disease problems.
Mowing Buffalo GrassIf left alone, buffalo grass will grow to a height of ten inches. It can be mown once a week to 2-3 inches for a residential lawn, or every two to four weeks at a height of 3-4 inches. If you want to plant this grass as part of a wildflower meadow, you need not mow it at all.
Establishing Buffalo GrassThis grass is slow to establish from seed (also called burs), but it can be done. A seeded buffalo grass lawn will be stronger in the long run than one established from plugs. The grass spreads by above-ground stolons, and is, essentially a clumping grass. Whether you seed or use plugs, it will take a couple of growing seasons for a thick turf to establish. Treated buffalo grass seed germinates better than un-treated seed. There are many different cultivars available, so check to see which cultivar will do best in your area.
Preferred Growing Conditions of Buffalo GrassThis type of grass needs full sun to grow. It will not grow well in shade, or even part shade. It does best in well drained soil, that is not overly fertile. It is well adapted to clay soil, and not as well adapted to sandy soils. Foot traffic damages buffalo grass, because it does not have underground stems. It should be planted primarily in areas that do not get a lot of foot traffic. It is good for bank stabilization, parking lot medians, and other rough growing conditions.
Buffalo Grass Pests and DiseasesThere are few pests and diseases that bother this grass, if it is maintained properly. Grubs are one common pest, and can be eliminated with milky spore. This low maintenance grass type makes an excellent lawn choice for homes in the central plains of the United States. The key to a healthy buffalo grass lawn is to mow at the proper height and avoid over watering and over fertilizing.