For many Australians, grass is an important part of every residential and commercial landscape. Aussies love the freshness that a good amount of greens bring into any space. Grass is a versatile ground cover that can be used for a variety of purposes, from providing a place for recreation and relaxation, to acting as a drought-tolerant alternative to traditional lawns. But what is it specifically about buffalo grass that makes it a hit among Australians?
What Is Buffalo Grass?
First, let’s discuss what Buffalo grass really is. Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) is a type of turfgrass that is native to the Great Plains region of North America. In the early 1900s, buffalo grass was introduced to Australia, where it quickly became a popular choice for both home gardens, offices, and public parks.
What Does Buffalo Grass Look Like?
If it’s your first time hearing about buffalo grass, you probably don’t even know how to identify it right away. But that’s alright, because we’re here to help. Buffalo grass may vary in how it looks and feels but in general, this grass has broad leaf blades with a rich and bright green colour with some variants having a shade of blue. It’s low growing and has been observed to spread by stolons (a narrow stem that grows horizontally).
The buffalo grass’ description raises the question of why Aussies like it so much. After all, by the definition alone, it doesn’t seem to be much different from other variants. But there are actually several reasons why it is such a popular choice in Australia.
First of all, buffalo grass is highly drought-tolerant, which makes it ideal for regions of the country that experience low rainfall. Second, it’s relatively low-maintenance, meaning it does not require frequent mowing or watering. Finally, buffalo grass has a deep root system that helps to prevent soil erosion. Of course, this also means you have to water it thoroughly to ensure that the moisture and nutrients reach the tip of the roots and not just the parts that are closest to the surface.
Although buffalo grass is highly resilient, that does not mean you can just plant it and leave it. There are still some things you need to remember when choosing this particular variant.
Things to Keep in Mind When Planting Soft Leaf Buffalo Grass
When it comes to planting soft leaf buffalo grass, you need to remember the following things; first and foremost, this type of grass does best in full sun and well-drained soil. That means planting it close to winter is a terrible idea and using clay soil should be avoided at all costs. The soft leaf buffalo grass is a warm-season grass, which means it will go dormant in the winter months.
In terms of watering, soft leaf buffalo grass is relatively drought-tolerant once it’s established. However, you’ll still need to water it regularly during its first growing season. Once it’s well grown, aim to water the grass about once per week, or as needed. There are some basic tests you can do to check moisture levels so you don’t under or overwater your lawn.
Finally, when it comes to mowing, you’ll want to set your mower to a higher setting. This will help prevent the grass from being scalped, which can damage its growth. The ideal height of this natural lawn is somewhere between 35 and 65mm. Any shorter and you lose the vibrant green colours the grass is famous for and any longer will encourage too much moisture as well as create a suitable environment for breeding bacteria or serving as a good spot for vermin or insects.
Note though that these are general guidelines and any maintenance you have to do will still depend on the specific type of buffalo grass.
What Are the Types of Buffalo Grass?
There are two types of buffalo grass: the native North American variety and the introduced Asian species. Both varieties are used for grazing, hay, and turf. Their differences are discussed in more detail below.
The native buffalo grass is found in the Great Plains of the United States and Canada. It is a short, tufted grass that grows to about 20 inches or 50 cm tall. The leaves are bluish-green in colour and have a hairy texture. They adjust pretty well to Australian weather and survive with sufficient care even in areas with little rainfall.
On the other hand, the introduced Asian species of buffalo grass was brought to North America in the early 1900s. It is taller than the native variety, growing up to 3 feet or 1 meter tall. The leaves are green or yellow-green in color and have a smooth texture. Asian buffalo grass is less drought-tolerant than the native variety and does not do well in areas with little rainfall, which means you will have to compensate if you live in dry areas.
Despite their obvious differences, both types can be used for grazing, hay, and turf. Both are popular choices for residential and commercial landscaping since they’re both fairly easy to maintain and are highly tolerant of winter climates.
Now that we’ve discussed the buffalo grass variants, let’s talk about why this particular type is preferred by Australians compared to other types of grass.
What Makes Buffalo Grass Special?
There are a number of reasons why buffalo grass is such a special grass. Aside from the reasons we already mentioned above, it’s interesting to know that the roots of buffalo grass are so far reaching that they can grow up to four feet deep. This allows the grass to travel far in order to get access to water and nutrients even during times of drought.
This mechanism protects your lawn from dying even during the hottest summers. You just have to be mindful when planting this grass because it can cause damage to your home’s foundation as well as your plumbing. Thankfully, these problems can be prevented with early intervention.
Another thing that makes this grass special is its resistance to common lawn pests. This means you need to use little to no pesticides, making this variety an excellent eco-friendly option. If you’re using the Asian species on your property, you can create a striking contrast against the landscape, thanks to the bluish green blades. This also makes any space look and feel cooler.
Now that you know more about the buffalo grass, it would be helpful for you to learn more about its maintenance. Yes, it is low maintenance, but that doesn’t mean it will survive without any kind of care. You’re still responsible for its upkeep so it stays healthy and beautiful for a long time.
Easy Buffalo Grass Maintenance Tips
Buffalo grass maintenance isn’t complicated. Sure it may require some work, but not as much work as other grass species. Here are some tips you can follow to ensure the longevity and health of your natural buffalo grass lawn:
- Mow Regularly
Buffalo grass should be mowed at least once a week during the growing season. This will help keep it healthy and prevent it from getting too long.
- Fertilize Regularly
Buffalo grass should be fertilized at least once a month during the growing season. Use a fertilizer that is specifically designed for buffalo grass. Make sure you exercise caution when fertilizing before winter, so as not to damage the grass and its root system.
- Water Deeply and Regularly
Buffalo grass needs to be watered deeply and evenly in order to stay healthy. Water it at least twice a week during the growing season, and make sure that the water penetrates at least six inches into the soil. Remember, buffalo grass roots can spread better with consistent watering, ensuring the health of your lawn.
- Control Weeds
Weeds can compete with buffalo grass for water and nutrients, so it is important to control them as soon as you spot them. Hand-pulling is usually the best method, as it discourages regrowth, but you can also use a herbicide if necessary.
Using a Thatcher breaks up and loosens the layer of dead and living plant stems and roots that naturally accumulate on the soil’s surface and at the base of the grass blades. Dethatching will improve the circulation of air and encourage the penetration of water so it reaches the grass roots.
- Reseed as Needed
Buffalo grass will naturally reseed itself, but you may need to do it yourself if the lawn starts to look thin. Use a quality Buffalo grass seed mix from your local nursery or garden center.
Get Your Own Buffalo Grass Lawn Today
Buffalo grass lawns are a popular choice for Australian gardens for several reasons. If you are looking for a drought-tolerant, low-maintenance turfgrass, then buffalo grass is the right option for you. Ready to start your own turf project? You don’t have to do it all on your own. There are lawn companies like Green Oasis that can help you with turf installation, maintenance, and more. Get in touch with our team for more details!