How to Grow Buffalo Grass from Seeds

If you want a low-maintenance, drought-resistant lawn, then Buffalo grass may be an excellent option. Also known as Buchloe dactyloides, Buffalo is a perennial warm-season grass that thrives in the Great Plains and various regions across the United States. It boasts unique characteristics, including excellent drought tolerance and the ability to form a dense turf. This has made it a popular choice for homeowners seeking an eco-friendly alternative to traditional turfgrass.

Unlike most grasses, buffalo grass is dioecious, meaning it has both male and female plants. Native to North America, Buffalo performs well in both hot summers and cold winters, making it suitable for a broad range of climates.

Here is a comprehensive guide with simple steps to help you grow Buffalo grass from seeds:

1. Selecting the Right Buffalo Grass Seeds

Before embarking on your Buffalo grass-growing journey, choosing the right seeds for your specific location and soil type is crucial. Look for reputable seed suppliers or nurseries that specialize in native grasses. Opt for certified Buffalo grass seeds free from weeds and other contaminants.

Here are some tips to help you choose the best buffalo grass seeds:

  • Choose a Buffalo grass variety that matches your climate and soil conditions for the best results.
  • Consider purchasing seed mixes that include other native grasses and wildflowers to enhance biodiversity.
  • Look for buffalo grass varieties that offer good turf quality. Check for traits such as fine leaf texture, dense growth, and vibrant green color. Varieties with good turf quality will result in a more attractive and uniform lawn.

2. Preparing the Soil

Proper soil preparation is crucial for successful buffalo grass seed germination and establishment. Buffalo grass can tolerate different soil types but thrives in well-draining sandy soils. Follow these steps to prepare the soil for planting buffalo grass seeds:

  • Remove any existing vegetation, including weeds, grass, and debris, from the area where you plan to plant the buffalo grass seeds.
  • Use a tiller or garden fork to loosen the soil to a depth of about 2-3 inches. This will create a loose seed bed, allowing the buffalo grass roots to penetrate easily.
  • Conduct a soil test to determine your soil’s pH level and nutrient content. Buffalo grass prefers slightly acidic to neutral soil.
  • Avoid compacting the soil during preparation, as it can hinder seed germination and root growth.

3. Sowing Buffalo Grass Seeds

For the best results, plan your seeding for late spring when the soil temperature consistently reaches 60°F (15.5°C) or higher. Buffalo grass seeds are small, so it’s essential to distribute them evenly. Mix the seeds with dry sand to aid in even dispersion, then use a seed spreader or broadcast them by hand across the prepared area. Aim for a seeding rate of approximately 2-3 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

Consider these tips when planting your grass seeds:

  • Consider using a seed roller after sowing to ensure good seed-to-soil contact, which improves germination rates.
  • Water the seeded area lightly after sowing to help the seeds settle into the soil.

4. Keep the Seeds Moist

To promote germination, keeping the seeds moist during the initial stages of growth is crucial. Lightly water the seeded area two to three times a day for the first few weeks or until you notice the grass sprouting. Once the grass reaches a height of about 2 inches, gradually reduce the watering frequency to promote deep root growth.

Follow these tips to effectively keep your Buffalo grass seeds moist during their critical germination phase:

  • Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to shallow root systems and weaken the grass over time.
  • Water in the early morning or late afternoon to minimize evaporation and maximize water absorption.
  • If possible, provide temporary shade using shade cloth or light, permeable coverings to reduce evaporation and maintain moisture levels.
  • Adjust the watering frequency based on weather conditions; increase watering during hot and dry spells.

5. Mowing and Maintenance

Buffalo grass is a low-growing turf, reaching a height of about 4-6 inches when unmown. For a traditional lawn appearance, mow Buffalo grass to a height of 2-3 inches. Mow the grass in the late spring after it has fully greened up and resumed active growth. During the summer, raise the mowing height to help the grass retain moisture and improve drought tolerance.

With its native roots in North America, buffalo grass is uniquely adapted to withstand drought and turn brown and dormant during harsh conditions, only to green up again in the next growing season.

Use these mowing and maintenance tips to ensure your grass remains green and healthy throughout the entire growing season:


  • Use a sharp lawn mower blade to ensure neat clean cuts and avoid damaging the grass.
  • Never remove more than one-third of the grass height in a single mowing session to prevent stress on the plant.
  • Vary mowing patterns to prevent soil compaction and ensure even growth.
  • Mow regularly to encourage healthy growth and help the grass spread effectively.

6. Fertilizing Buffalo Grass

One of the advantages of this North American grass is its minimal fertilizer requirements. However, a light application of a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in late spring can promote healthier growth. Avoid excessive fertilization, as it may lead to thatch buildup or increased water needs.

Apply fertilizer primarily during the active growing season of Buffalo grass, which is typically in late spring and early summer. Avoid fertilizing during the dormant winter months to prevent unnecessary nutrient loss and environmental impact.

Here are some tips on selecting the best fertilizer for Buffalo grass:

  • Opt for organic fertilizers to support the natural ecosystem and avoid chemical runoff.
  • Consider using compost as a natural and environmentally friendly alternative to synthetic fertilizers.
  • Choose a fertilizer with a relatively low nitrogen content to prevent thatch buildup and maintain the grass’s natural growth habit. Fertilize about 1 to 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.
  • Look for a fertilizer with a balanced ratio of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) such as 10-10-10 or 15-15-15.

7. Dealing with Weeds

Properly established Buffalo grass lawn is naturally resistant to most weeds. Buffalo grass spreads through both stolons and rhizomes, gradually forming a dense turf that chokes out weeds. However, during the establishment phase, weeds can still pose a threat. Hand-pull weeds or use an appropriate herbicide to eliminate them. Always follow the instructions on herbicide labels and avoid using products that can harm Buffalo grass.

Here are a few tips for maintaining your lawn weed-free:

  • Regularly inspect your lawn for weed growth and take immediate action to prevent them from spreading.
  • Mulch around young Buffalo grass plants to suppress weed growth and retain soil moisture.

8. Handling Pests and Diseases

Buffalo grass is relatively pest and disease-resistant, making it an ideal low-maintenance option. However, keep an eye out for pests like armyworms or chinch bugs. If infestations occur, use natural remedies or targeted insecticides to control them effectively.

Use these tips to combat pests and diseases:

  • Encourage natural predators, such as birds and beneficial insects, to control pest populations.
  • Practice proper lawn care and avoid overwatering, as stressed grass is more susceptible to diseases.

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Is Buffalo Grass a Good Lawn?

Yes, Buffalo grass is an excellent choice for a lawn, particularly in regions with hot summers and cold winters. It is a low-maintenance and environmentally friendly grass that requires less water and fertilizer compared to other turf options. Buffalo grass forms a dense, lush, attractive lawn that can withstand drought and harsh conditions while maintaining its vibrant green color. Additionally, its deep-rooted system helps prevent soil erosion and promotes soil health.

Is Buffalo Grass Better Than Bermuda Grass?

The choice between Buffalo and Bermuda grass depends on your lawn’s specific needs and conditions. Both grasses have their unique advantages. Buffalo grass is more drought-resistant, requires less maintenance, and grows well in colder climates. It also has a finer texture and softer feel, making it suitable for recreational areas and landscapes.

On the contrary, Bermuda grass is more heat-tolerant, grows faster, and recovers quickly from wear and tear. It is often preferred for high-traffic areas and sports fields. Ultimately, the best grass for your lawn depends on factors such as climate, desired appearance, and level of maintenance.

Does Buffalo Grass Spread Quickly?

Buffalo grass is not known for spreading rapidly compared to other grass species. It has a slower growth rate and a clumping growth habit. While it does spread via stolons (above-ground runners), the expansion is relatively gradual. Buffalo grass is better suited for areas where a slow-spreading, low-maintenance lawn is desired. Once established, it forms a dense and tight sod, making it resistant to weed invasion. If you prefer a more rapidly spreading grass, Bermuda grass or other warm-season grasses might be a better option.

The Bottom Line

Growing Buffalo grass from seeds is a rewarding and eco-friendly way to establish a beautiful, low-maintenance lawn. By choosing the right seeds, preparing the soil adequately, and providing proper care during the establishment phase, you can enjoy a lush Buffalo grass lawn that stands up to drought and thrives in various climates. Embrace the charm of the Great Plains right in your backyard with Buffalo grass, and revel in its natural beauty with minimal effort and maximum results.

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