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What is Buffalo Grass?

Lawn Care
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Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) is a perennial grass native to the U.S. The buffalo of the Great Plains ate a steady diet of this grass, and it was used by early settlers to build sod houses. Today, the support for buffalo lawns is growing among homeowners due to an increased interest in creating more natural lawns with native grasses.

Characteristics of Buffalo grass

Buffalo grass will create a light turf with soft green blades which have a tendency to bend. It is a slow growing short grass and, if left to grow, it will reach an average length of ten inches. The native grass will produce seed, and it forms beautiful yellow wheat-like stalks before the seeds are released.

The soft nature of Buffalo grass will succumb to heavy traffic, but the natural grass is resistant to extreme temperatures and it is somewhat resistant to drought. The light grassy buffalo turf mixes well with natural wildflowers as it provides some space for the wildflowers to grow, but it can be overcome by other types of nonnative grasses such as Bermuda grass.

Best Growing Conditions for Buffalo grass

Buffalo grass requires full direct sun, slightly alkaline soils (pH 6.0 to 7.5) and a yearly rainfall between 15 to 30 inches for optimum growth. This native grass cannot survive in standing water, and it does not grow well in sandy soils; a buffalo lawn will grow well in most other types of soils, including clay soils, as long as the soil has good drainage. The grass will survive wide temperature ranges and some drought conditions, but if it becomes too dry it will go dormant.

Care of Buffalo grass

Buffalo grass requires little care, and too much watering and fertilization will actually harm established grasses. Most homeowners who have a buffalo lawn mow an average of once a month to maintain the grass blades between two to three inches in height. Light and occasional watering may be needed in dry summer months to keep the grass from going dormant, and a very light addition of compost in the fall can help to rejuvenate the turf for optimum spring growth.

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