Back to the topic of turf chores. We know that fescue is probably the most used turfgrass in Harvey County. It has the longest green season, tolerates shade and looks nice when mowed. It is a cool season grass that likes cooler weather and that is when it starts to green up. Another grass that is tough to beat is buffalograss.
Buffalograss is a native prairie grass that can be used for low-maintenance lawns and other turf areas. It is a warm season grass that doesn’t really start to regrow for the season until the weather starts to warm up and goes dormant in the early fall. This low-growing, finely-textured grass requires less mowing, watering, and fertilizing than traditional lawn grasses. Although several cultivars can be seeded, others must be started from sod or plugs. Buffalograss is a warm-season grass that spreads by stolons (runners) but not as aggressively as bermudagrass. Once established, it survives extreme heat, drought, and cold.
Buffalograss grows best in full sun, but 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day is enough for acceptable turf. Stands will be thinner in semi-shady areas. Almost no growth occurs
in heavily shaded areas. A well-drained loam soil is ideal for easy establishment and maintenance of an attractive turf. Establishment is slower on clay and compacted sites, but buffalograss can tolerate these conditions. Sandy soils, wet areas, and poorly drained soils are not suitable.
Taking care of buffalograss isn’t the same as caring for tall fescue!
Requirements: Grows best in full sun. At least 6 to 8 hours per day of direct sunlight
Good soil drainage is essential.
Grows in clay soil.
Not suited to sandy soils.
Planting: June and July are best.
April-May if irrigation is not available.
1 to 2 lb seed/1,000 square feet.
Plant seed 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep.
Mowing:2 1/2 to 4 inches for home lawns.
Low-maintenance areas may be mowed taller (4 inches or greater).
Frequency is affected by amount of watering and fertilizing.
Watering: Deep soak soil every 2 weeks during summer drought.
Limit spring watering to a few deep soakings to replenish subsoil moisture during drought conditions. Soak soil before winter if fall is dry. For a lower maintenance buffalograss you can also try to just rely on natural rainfall.
Fertilizing: Early June is best with a second application, if desired, in mid-July.
1 to 2 pounds actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet/year, less on low-maintenance and natural areas.
Weed control: Avoid frequent watering, short mowing, and overfertilizing.
Minimal early season watering.
As with any turf, weeds can be an issue. The following are causes of weeds in Buffalograss
Practices that encourage weed growth include:
• light and frequent watering,
• early season fertilization and watering,
• extremely short mowing, and
• excessive fertilization.
— Scott Eckert is a Kansas State Research and Extension Agent for Harvey County. Horticulture is his specialty. The Harvey County Extension Office can be contacted at 284-6930