Buffalo Grass – Facts, Grow and Care, Information

Buffalo Grass is a short (12 in / 30 cm) drought tolerant perennial turf grass native to North America that is blue/green in color.  That is one of the biggest benefits of Buffalo Grass – it will stay green throughout droughts in the hot, hot summer while normal turf grass goes dormant or dies.  Additionally, Buffalo Grass spreads via above-ground rhizomes that naturally fills in voids within your lawn.  Once firmly established it can create a dense carpet that will help reduce weeds, as they will have no way to reach your soil!buffalo grass Bouteloua dactyloides

I’m slowly adding this grass to my lawn as I border some ‘wild’ areas and am constantly fighting various weeds such as Creeping Charlie, Dandelions, Wild Strawberry and the dreaded Nutsedge.  I’ve also added this around the perimeter of our backyard Micro-prairie as it can help inhibit unwanted plants from taking over.  I mean hey, I like Goldenrod, but if left unchecked it can become quite dominant!

 Buffalo Grass Facts

  • It is native from North Central Canada, South to Texas, and between the Rocky Mountains and Appalachia
  • Buffalo Grass has an attractive blue/green color in the Summer
  • This is a warm season grass, meaning it will go dormant and turn a yellow color during the winter
  • The primary roots of Buffalo Grass typically extend 12-14 inches deep (30-35 cm), while root depths of 3′ (90 cm) have been observed.
  • This grass is naturally adapted to dry climates, and is extremely drought tolerant
  • The overall height is only around 12 inches (30 cm), making it useful for low-maintenance lawns
  • Above ground rhizomes allow Buffalo Grass to fill in any gaps in vegetation or within a lawn
  • The Scientific Name of Buffalo Grass is Bouteloua dactyloides

Buffalo Grass Physical Description

Buffalo Grass is a soft blue/green grass that has find blades that lay down if not mowed.  Established specimens will send out runners that make new plants, naturally increasing its population.  It makes an attractive turf grass that is truly low maintenance when compared to other grasses such as Bermuda or Zoysia .

Stalk / Stem

The narrow stems will emanate from a central clump in a dense cluster.

Leaves

Finely textured blueish green blades can reach 10-12″ in length.  However the overall plant will only be 5-6″ tall giving it a carpet appearance.

Flower

There are male and female plants, and you need both to produce seed.  Generally the plant will produce seed if un-mowed in the second year.

Buffalo Grass Root Depth

The fibrous roots will extend 1-3′ deep (30-90 cm) in optimum conditions.  Because of these roots, the plant is very drought tolerant.

Additionally there are above ground rhizomes roots.  These rhizomes (or runners) will extend out from the main plant, and form new plants.  This allows Buffalo Grass to colonize an area, filling any open spaces.

buffalo grass rhizome root runners Bouteloua dactyloides
And above ground rhizome of Buffalo Grass

Growing Conditions of Buffalo Grass

Buffalo Grass likes full sun and dry to medium moisture.  It can grow very well in poor clay or clay/loam soil.

How to care  for

No care is generally required to keep a healthy population.  However, if making a complete lawn from this plant you should make sure there are no weeds prior to planting seed.  After germination, weeding via herbicide or manual pulling should be done to help the grass get established and form a dense carpet.

Maintenance

None required.

How to Establish Buffalo Grass

Plant seed by pressing into soil surface or plant 1/2″ deep (12 mm).  The seed should be planted at 6-12″ intervals.  Keep moist until germination.  Keep ground moist (not soggy) for and additional week or two in order to aid in establishment.  After this period, the grass shouldn’t require water.

If you are going to grow in pots/plugs, then you can transplant to your yard about two months after germination, at 12″ intervals in a grid-like pattern.

Garden Uses

This can be used as a low-maintenance turf grass for your lawn that will not require watering once established.  Buffalo Grass will also not need to be mowed very often to keep it looking nice.

I am also using this grass in our backyard Micro-Prairie.  I have planted a number of individual plants along the edge to help fill in any gaps within the main wildflower area.  This way I keep the weeds down such as dandelions or thistle, while maintaining a fully vegetated appearance.  It also keeps regular turf grass or quack grass from invading.

How To Make a Micro-Prairie

Fauna

This grass can be grazed by livestock and other mammals and herbivores.  I’ve not lost any individual plants due to excessive browsing/grazing.  If allowed to go to seed, the birds will eat and disperse.  Also, the grass can be used for building bird nests.

Pests and diseases

None.

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buffalo grass grow and care guide

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