Establishment and Management Guide for Buffalograss
Site Selection and Prep
Buffalograss grows best in areas with 6-8 hours of sunlight. Morning sun is critical.
Buffalograss prefers well-drained, non-sandy soils and does not tolerate standing water for extended periods of time. It is recommended to correct drainage problems prior to seeding.
Prepare a firm, clean seedbed and roll or pack the soil so footprints sink no more than half an inch deep.
Testing your soil for fertility and pH levels is an important consideration. The optimum pH level is between 6.0 and 7.5. Your local cooperative Extension service can provide access to soil testing, recommendations, and proper methods for any soil amendments. Generally, you would use a turf ‘starter’ fertilizer at manufacturers recommended rate.
If a pre-emergent herbicide had been used previously (within the last 12-18 months) on the site, check the product label for restrictions on newly planted seed. Herbicides that prevent the germination of weeds could potentially inhibit the germination of your new grass.
Determining When to Plant
The best results when planting Buffalograss occur when seed is placed in good contact with the soil at 0.25 to 0.50 inches deep. Seeds should be planted no more than 0.50 inches deep. Seed on the surface is OK and is a good sign that seeds have not been planted too deep.
The best time to plant Buffalograss is during the Spring and Summer months after the soil has reached at least 55 degrees F. Our best plantings occur in May-June North of I-70 and March-April south of I-70.
If irrigating at establishment, water every day the first week, every other day the second week, and every third day the third week after soil temperature reaches 50 degrees F. Look for 0.50-1.50 seeds per square inch. On non-irrigated sites, place the seed at a depth of 0.50 inch early in the season for best results.
If the site has access to irrigation, delay planting until crabgrass begins to germinate and appear in the soil, cultivate the crabgrass stand, and then plant. The "cutoff" date for planting depends upon your geographic location. A simple rule to follow is not to plant within 75 days of the average first frost date for your location. The newly established plants must have time to develop adequate rooting prior to the first frost.
Recommended Seeding Rates
(1 - 1.5 kg/100 sq.m)
(100 - 150 kg/hect)
(50 - 100 kg/hect)
Seedbed Preparation Choices
Preparing a Tilled Seedbed
A properly prepared seedbed is the foundation to success when establishing buffalograss from seed. Soils, especially those high in clay content or which have been compacted, require tillage to a depth of 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) to promote healthy rooting as the buffalograss becomes established. Following deep tillage, the soil needs to be worked to a garden-like appearance. Rake and remove all large plant debris. Once the clods have been worked down to no larger than pea size, the soil needs to be firmed with a roller or rake to a point where the foot sinks to no more than 1/2 inch (1.2 cm). Prior to seeding, be sure all existing vegetation has been destroyed by tillage or a non-selective herbicide. If a herbicide is used follow the manufacturer's recommended rates provided on the label.
Renovating a Cool Season Grass Lawn
High maintenance cool-season grass lawns can be quickly and successfully converted to lower maintenance Buffalograss without extensive tillage as described above. Renovation rather than complete tillage can reduce costs and time for establishment. The most effective method for removing the existing turf is 2 sequential applications of a nonselective herbicide such as Roundup Pro. Apply the first application, wait 14 days and reapply the same rate. The seedbed can be prepared 7 days following the last application of herbicide. Use of a vertical mower or mechanical rake to remove the thatch. Two or three operations in different directions are most effective. Mow or rake off the debris after the dethatching process. The old turf can then be spiked, cored, or vertically mowed. These operations can also be used to incorporate lime and fertilizer into the soil.
Putting Seed into Soil
Once the seeding rate is determined and the seedbed is correctly prepared, the next step is to determine the planting method and the type of equipment required to plant the seed at the proper depth.
Small lawns are best planted by broadcasting the seed across the surface, followed by raking to incorporate the seed into the soil, and finally rolling the surface to get good seed-to-soil contact.
For larger instillations, various types of seeders and drills are available. Seeders that limit the depth of seed placement are best. The most critical factor to remember in any Buffalograss seeding is not to place the seed deeper than 0.50 an inch from the soil surface. The best placement is between 0.25 and 0.50 inches below the surface.
Water is essential for Good Germination
The frequency and quantity of supplemental watering during establishment is a principle factor of success. The soil needs to be moist prior to seeding and the moisture must be maintained for germination.
Frequent and excessive watering promotes unnecessary weed growth and rooting problems.
Once the seeding process is completed, water every day the first week, every other day the second week, and every third day the next week. Do not water to the point of runoff. Seedlings should start to germinate in 10 to 14 days. Begin reducing the frequency of watering but increase the amount per application as the seedlings develop into small plants and then to a mature sod.
Controlling Weeds Quickens the Establishment Process
Proper establishment practices will help to reduce weed competition, but weeds will most likely be the single-most limiting factor in establishing a new stand of grass quickly. Weeds compete for moisture, nutrients, and space.
If left unmanaged weeds can severely damage a developing stand of Buffalograss.
Mowing during establishment will decrease the competitiveness of some taller growing weeds. Mowing just above the height of the Buffalograss in the first 4-5 weeks will keep the grass exposed to sunlight which is necessary for growth.
Limited information is available on herbicide safety and use in the establishment phase of Buffalograss, but new products will continually be labelled for Bufflograss as the popularity of the grass increases
Tenacity (mesotrione) can be applied at seeding time and again, if needed, four weeks after Buffalograss emergence.
Three hebicides that are safe to use post-emergence during the establishment year include: Drive XLR8 (quinclorac), SquareOne (carfentrazone + quinclorac), and Solitaire (sulfentrazone + quinclorac). These herbicides have shown good flexibility and safety for new Buffalograss seedings when used according to the label. All three are effective on a wide spectrum of grassy and broadleaf weeds. They should be applied when the newly seeded Buffalograss is at the 2-3 leaf stage or older.
Always follow the label of any pesticide product prior to its use.
Managing your NaTurf Buffalograss Lawn
NaTurf brand Buffalograss Offers Several Mowing Options:
The new Buffalograss will reach a mature height of 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm). The recommended mowing height varies from 1.5 to 4 inches (4 to 10 cm) depending on the intensity of management and the desired appearance. Buffalograss can be mowed from only once a year to once every two weeks, there again depending on the appearance desired. Mowing frequency is directly related to the amount of water and fertilizer applied. The key to a great looking lawn is to avoid removing more than one-third of the turf height during any single mowing. A reduction in mowing height will increase the frequency of mowing and the intensity of the management, i.e. watering and fertilizer. In most turf applications, turf quality is enhanced with more frequent mowing with minimal leaf clipping.
NaTurf brand Buffalograss Require Less Fertilizer Than Other Grasses:
The recommended rate of annual nitrogen application is 1 to 3 lbs. of actual nitrogen per 1000 square feet (1 - 2 kg/100 sq. m) split into two applications. Slow-release nitrogen fertilizers are the best source of nitrogen since they prevent rapid lush growth. The first application of nitrogen should be made approximately 3 weeks following 'green-up' and then 8 weeks later. Excessive nitrogen fertilization of Buffalograss increases weed pressure and mowing thus defeating the purpose of a low maintenance turfgrass. Phosphorous and potassium should be maintained at adequate levels to ensure root growth and overall improved turfgrass quality. Test the soil every three years to identify any nutrient problems and correct accordingly.
NaTurf brand Buffalograss Require Less Water Than Other Grasses:
The water requirements for Buffalograss are considerably less than other turfgrass species. Excessive irrigation creates weed pressure, increased mowing, and disease susceptibility. In most cases natural precipitation provides adequate moisture for growth, but timely supplemental irrigation will enhance the turf quality. In periods of extended drought, supplemental irrigation may become a necessity to prevent drought-induced dormancy. If irrigation becomes necessary, it is best to water deeply and infrequently for a healthy turf.
Weed Prevention for a Healthy Turf
Applying good turf management practices can prevent many of the common weeds. Avoid frequent watering, over fertilizing, and scalping as these practices promote weed growth and put your Buffalograss at a competitive disadvantage.
Unfortunately, good management practices only reduce the weed competition and do not eliminate them. Hand weeding is always an option but is very time consuming and labor intensive. Herbicides are commonly used to aid the turf manager in promoting a healthy weed-free turf. When used in accordance with the manufacturer's label these products are safe and very effective.
If you are uncomfortable or inexperienced in the use of pesticides it is best to have the products applied by a licensed and reputable lawn care service. For those who want to do their own application the following is brief outline of the products available and their intended use.
Hebicides Labeled for Buffalograss
Pre-emergent Herbicides Labeled for Buffalograss:
Post-emergent Herbicides Labeled for Buffalograss: