Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloidesi) is a warm weather grass that offers superior drought tolerance. It requires far less water then the typical Kentucky blue grass. During the height of summer when the temperatures can top the triple digits the lawn only requires several inches of water per month to thrive.
The grass can make a lovely turf style lawn that sports soft, blue-green grass blades for walking on. The grass can be maintained uncut and still offer a soft appearance. The common height for buffalo grass is between 8 to 10 inches. The overall appearance of the grass when uncut is a soft, undulating prairie.
In its native habitat Buffalo grass once ran from the area of Montana all the way south to Mexico. It is the prominent grass of the Great Plains that the buffalo foraged on. When the settlers began to take up residence and farm the buffalo grass was what they used to make their sod homes. The grass is considered to be the only true native turf grass of North America.
Spread of the grass is obtained from runners. The grass produces no underground stems or rhizomes. Once established as a lawn the grass can be easily kept out of flowerbeds or other areas by simple pulling.
The plants are either male or female. It is rare to have both sexes on a single grass plant. Seed-stalks stand between 4 to 6 inches in height.
Buffalo grass should be grown in areas that receive low rainfall. It can easily grow at high elevations in almost desert like conditions. The grass requires areas of full sun to thrive. In the shade the growth tends to be sparse.
The seeds of buffalo grass enter a dormancy and require a chill to break the dormancy when planting. Chemically treated buffalo grass can be purchased which does not require a chill to germinate. Seed should be chilled at a temperature of between 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 8 weeks. Chilling the seeds will offer a great germination ratio then seeds that are chemically treated. Expect an 80 to 90 percent germination ratio if the seeds are successfully chilled prior to planting.
Buffalo grass should be planted in April or May for best results. Seeds should be planted at a depth of one inch. The seeds will not break dormancy until adequate water is provided.
A seeding ratio should ideally be between 4 to 6 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet for a nice lawn and ideal coverage in the first season.
Buffalo grass offers the homeowner a lush, green lawn with minimum water requirements. The lawn is hardy and can withstand a great deal of abuse. It can flourish in nutrient poor soil conditions where others grass will not.
Mow buffalo grass at a height of 2 to 3 inches for the ideal lawn appearance.
Buffalo grass does not require fertilization. In the spring and summer the lawn will stay brilliant green. During the winter dormancy the lawn will appear to be dead until the arrival of spring.