Buffalo Grass In Focus
29 September 2021
Buffalo grass (known as St. Augustine in the US) is a warm-season grass that is native to areas of North and South America, parts of Africa and the Caribbean. Commonly known as soft leaf buffalo in Australia.
Buffalo grasses are a great all-round turf variety with a number of key strengths that make them an ideal variety for many Australian backyards.
Buffalo grasses have been developed over the years from the scratchy older types to the soft leaf buffalo’s that are commonly supplied today, like Australia’s most popular variety Sir Walter DNA Certified.
Key Characteristics of Buffalo Grass
These grasses can grow in a range of soil types, from sandy soils to light clays and at a range of pH levels between 5 and 8.5.
Buffalo turfs are one of the most shade tolerant turf types, with the ability to survive in areas receiving as little 40% sunlight, or 3-4 hours direct sunlight a day.
They also have a good tolerance of salinity and make for a great option in coastal areas.
Buffalo grasses only have above-ground stems known as stolons to establish from. Their stolons are very robust and hardy providing these grasses with a good wear tolerance. They will however be a little bit slower to repair than varieties like kikuyu or couch that also have underground stems called rhizomes to repair from as well as stolons.
How Buffalo Grass is Grown
Buffalo grasses are grown on turf farms through the establishment of vegetative material. When buffalo turf is harvested, strips known as ribbons are left behind in order for the turf paddock to re-establish again for harvesting. Buffalo turf cannot be established through seed as the seed heads that are produced are sterile and seed production is minimal. When looking to repair or patch a buffalo lawn, it will need to be established through vegetative material, so spreading of the runners, or by installing some more solid turf.
Buffalo turf can be installed year-round Australia wide. It establishes quickly over the warmer months but can take a little longer if you are installing in winter.
Important points for installation of buffalo grass
- Install the grass as soon as possible after delivery
- Lay on a bed of 100mm of quality turf underlay
- Use Lawn Solutions Australia Lawn Launcher at label rates to give the grass a head start and retain moisture in the new soil bed
- Roll to compact new turf to improve contact with the soil
- Soak the newly laid turf thoroughly for 10-14 days after installation or until established
- Reduce irrigation once established and water only when the grass appears to be dry
- Minimise irrigation in the cooler months to avoid your lawn getting waterlogged
- Consult your local supplier for seasonal advice on installation timing in cooler regions
Maintaining Buffalo Grass
it is important to be mindful of correct and efficient irrigation practices to maintain a healthy buffalo lawn.
- If watering is necessary once established, water only when there are signs of the grass drying out, e.g. wilted or curled leaves
- Do not water in the cooler winter months unless there are signs of the above
- If irrigation is needed, deeply soak the top 100mm of soil (generally 30 minutes with a standard sprinkler will suffice)
- Water early morning for improved efficiency and plant health
Buffalo grass can be mowed between 20 and 60mm. They are best mowed with a rotary mower, but a cylinder mower can also produce fantastic results. Removing clippings is encouraged; however, mulch mowing is fine as long as clippings are not thick enough to inhibit the lawn from getting sunlight. Over winter it is recommended to leave your lawn slightly longer.
- Ensure that mower blades are sharp to prevent tearing of the leaf
- Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at any one time unless dethatching
- Dethatch if required in late spring for best results
- It is recommended to remove clippings each mow to prevent thatch build-up
Fertilising Buffalo Grass
If you want your buffalo grass to remain healthy and have a nice, deep green colour, it is best to fertilise a few times per year.
- Apply slow-release granular fertiliser at a rate of 20-25g/m2 or 2-2.5kg/100m2
- For best results, fertilise at least 3 times per year. Important dates are late spring, mid to late summer and late autumn
- Always irrigate after applying fertiliser
- On new lawns, apply fertiliser after you have cut your lawn at least once
- To best maintain year-round colour, fertilise in late autumn and apply ColourGuard PLUS at 10 to 12-week intervals until spring
Weed and Pest Control for Buffalo Grass
Many buffalo types of grass like Sir Walter DNA Certified have fantastic natural resistance to most pests and weeds. To keep weeds at bay, it is important to fertilise your lawn regularly to keep it healthy. This will ensure it is sufficiently dense to block weeds out, and high nitrogen levels will also keep most weeds away.
To ensure your lawn remains pest free, always keep an eye out for signs of infestation and be proactive with preventative pesticides, such as Acelepryn GR.
Most domestically available chemical weed and pest control products can be used on buffalo lawns (with the exception of some Weed ‘n’ Feeds), but it is always best to read the label and check with your Lawn Solutions Australia grower for recommended products before any application.
Some common broadleaf herbicides contain Dicamba which is not safe to use on buffalo lawns. All-Purpose Weed Control and Bin Die Herbicide contain the active Bromoxynil which is safe to use on buffalo grass.
If you think buffalo grass is the right choice for your lawn, you cannot go past Sir Walter DNA Certified. Bred right here in Australia, Sir Walter DNA Certified has been the number one choice for Aussie backyards for over 20 years. Look out for the ‘Original Breeder Guarantee’ to ensure you are getting the genuine Sir Walter DNA Certified.
As always, if you have any more questions please don’t hesitate to contact us for free expert advice on 1800ALLTURF (1800255873) or 07 5543 8304.
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