Original common Buffalo grass has been well known for many decades for its very scratchy texture, which would become highly irritating to the skin of children playing on the grass. This scratchy nature of buffalo has always been one of its biggest drawbacks and what almost led to its total annihilation as consideration as a home lawn not so long ago.
That was until the new Soft Buffalo lawn types emerged on the scene.
The new soft buffalo grasses were no longer scratchy and children no longer complained after playing on the buffalo grass lawn. In fact, the texture of these new soft buffalo grasses really were genuinely soft, and totally different from the scratchy buffalo lawns of yesterday.
Despite these wonderful improvements in the quality of buffalo over the years, and the removal of its scratchy leaves, there is one giant gaping hole in the entire new soft buffalo grass industry…
THERE IS NO SOFTNESS TEST FOR BUFFALO GRASS
Yes, you heard right. There is no softness test for buffalo grass in Australia, nor anywhere else in the world from what I understand. Which means any buffalo grass, regardless of how scratchy it may be… can still be legally labelled as a Soft Buffalo Grass.
And we believe this needs to change.
Research Into Buffalo Grass Softness
I have been privy to two lots of independent research from two very different sources, which delve into the softness of the different buffalo grasses available today, and this research tells a very revealing story.
I cannot share this research for legal reasons but I will discuss it in a single sentence which explains everything…
There is a difference in the softness of different buffalo grass brands, and it would be plausible for some people to dispute the genuine softness of some buffalo grasses when compared to others.
How Can We Measure Softness In Buffalo Grass
Of course there are some subjective tests we can put buffalo grass to - which could easily tell us whether the grass is truly soft, and these would be to run our hands across different types of buffalo grass to feel the difference in quality of softness and scratchiness, which is actually a very good test, but would be difficult as most people don't have access to plots of different buffalo grass plots to do this.
Next we can take the leaf blades of different buffalo grasses and run their edges on the soft inner part of our lower lip which is very sensitive, this too is a good test, but impossible for most people to ever do.
WARNING - please don't try the lip test at home, if your buffalo is indeed scratchy then there is a possibility of causing severe irritation or even a small cut to the inner lip.
Finally… and better yet… we have a more scientific test that we can rely on…
Microscopic Review of Buffalo Grasses
This method involves studying buffalo grass under a microscope to determine softness with scientific analysis, by measuring the barb rates on the buffalo grass leaf.
See, the scratchiness of buffalo grass comes from a range of tiny microscopic barbs which run down the leaf of the buffalo grass blade. The more of these tiny barbs, then the scratchier the buffalo grass. And of course, the less of these barbs, then the buffalo grass becomes softer. Its as simple as that.
So by studying these barbs under a microscope we can then determine with scientific accuracy which buffalo grasses are truly soft, and which ones are not.
The only determining factor which needs to be considered and agreed upon by those with an interest, or by an appropriate government agency is upon what percentage of barbs that a buffalo grass can present on its leaf, and on what percentage of leaves in an overall test sample, before it can be classified, marketed and sold as a true soft leaf buffalo grass.
Such a test would be of great benefit to Australian lawn owners and lawn buyers.
See stunning examples of miroscopic photos of buffalo grass here.
Will A Softness Test Emerge For Buffalo Grass
Of course it is easy to talk about these things, and to know that a softness test for buffalo grass is possible, and would benefit Australian consumers immensely. But what are the chances of such a test ever being implemented?
Again, we can only speculate here and say that its not likely.
The Australian turf industry is often highly hostile amongst its own ranks of turf license holders, so there will be no agreement here until the major players in this industry change their attitudes and practices.
Next we can of course look to Government Agencies responsible for ethical marketing of consumer goods to the public, and again say that it is unlikely they will ever implement such quality control measures for the benefit of Australian consumers.
So where does this leave Australian mums and dads who may be buying a buffalo lawn which may not actually be truly soft? Not in a good place unfortunately.
For it is impossible for any grass company to reveal the truth about a competitors grass brand not being soft without being sued, and it is equally impossible for an independent lawn care website to reveal the truth about any such grasses without also risking legal threats.
As you can see, Australian mums and dads are being left in the dark here.
While some buffalo grasses can call themselves SOFT when they may not be, and no-one is able to reveal any contrary proof of such claims.
With this in mind, and understanding the nature of the situation, we can only do what we can to speak up about this issue so that it is indeed brought into the public's attention, and that such an issue is no longer hidden from view.
Therefore, we publicly urge and encourage the development of a system to determine and gauge the softness of buffalo grasses being sold in Australia.