The popularity of buffalo grass has continued to rise over the past few years. In fact, buffalo grass - which was almost close to being wiped out in Australia not so long ago, has had a miraculous turnaround in recent times.
There has been two reasons for this sudden jump in the sales of buffalo grass in Australia in recent years.
The first has been the introduction of soft leaf buffalo varieties, which took away the scratchy nature of buffalo grasses from days gone by. This has been a massive improvement for Australian lawn owners buying buffalo grass for their homes.
The second reason for the jump in popularity for buffalo grass has been advertising. It seems we can't turn on commercial radio any more without constantly hearing all those buffalo grass ads. But, these ads have worked, and are the primary reason for the rise in sales of buffalo grass.
But here is where problems start arising for Aussie lawn owners…
Many people buying buffalo grass may actually be buying the wrong grass for their home and their needs, based on this very same advertising, and the claims surrounding some brands of buffalo.
The purpose of this article is to dispel some of the myths that have sprung up around buffalo grass, and hopefully as a result - people will begin to stop focussing on what the advertising is saying, and instead choose the right lawn for their homes, be it buffalo grass, or any other type of grass for that matter.
Suitability Of Buffalo Grass For Home Lawns
For anyone considering buying a new buffalo grass lawn, then they should be aware of the strengths and the weaknesses of buffalo grass to ensure that buffalo grass is right for them, their home, and their needs.
A new roll on lawn can be very expensive, so we can imagine the heartache caused when people have to rip one lawn out which was never suitable, to plant a new lawn type which is suitable.
Buffalo can be a very good lawn type, but it will not be suitable for every home situation, so lets take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of buffalo grass.
Buffalo Grass Strengths
Buffalo grass is the best warm season grass type for shade tolerance.
So for every homeowner who needs lawn for a partial to heavier shaded area, then buffalo grass should be one of the first lawn type considerations.
Just be aware, that not all buffalo grasses are equal in shade tolerance, they are not. Some buffalo grasses perform better in shade than others. So forget the advertising of the big grass companies and head on over to our buffalo review article to find out the truth about buffalo grass shade tolerance, and which ones are proven best.
Buffalo Grass Appearance
Some people just love the appearance of the wide leaves of buffalo grass. And for these people, they should of course consider buffalo grass for their home lawn so to get a lawn for their homes which they are most happy with.
However, if the homeowner finds buffalo may not be the right choice for them based on the weaknesses of buffalo grass to follow, then such factors should take precedence over aesthetics.
Buffalo does have quite good drought tolerance compared to some other grass types, so this can also be a deciding factor in choosing a buffalo lawn.
A buffalo lawn in good health and condition will naturally overcrowd many different types of weeds amongst its thick layer of thatch of above ground runners. In this respect, buffalo can be almost as good as Zoysia in self control of weed invasions.
However, weeds are still common in buffalo, and should buffalo be allowed to deteriorate in health, then weed invasion is equally as likely and can be as bad with buffalo as any other grass type.
Not As Aggressive As Other Grasses
Unlike lawns like Kikuyu and Couch which are both aggressive and can quickly invade surrounding lawns and garden beds, Buffalo is less aggressive in its growth patterns, and cannot creep underneath fences and garden borders like Couch and Kikuyu can, because buffalo has no underground runners to do so.
Buffalo Grass Weaknesses
The weaknesses of buffalo grass should be equally considered along with the strengths of buffalo. So here are the weaknesses of buffalo, and should be strongly considered while choosing whether to choose buffalo over other grass types.
Buffalo Is Not Completely Suitable For Full Sun
It is a proven fact that the thatch layer of buffalo grass will increase at greater speed and to greater depth when it is grown in full sun, when compared to being grown in partial shade.
We all remember those buffalo lawns from years gone by which had thatch layers that would grow many inches in height and sit way above the height of the surrounding pathway… thats because these buffalo lawns were being grown in full sun.
Once buffalo is grown in partial shade, these thatch problems almost disappear.
Which is why we say buffalo is not the most suitable lawn type for full sun, because this thatch in buffalo is such a major concern.
Having said that, buffalo grass can indeed grow in full sun just like any other warm season grass can, it can remain green and in good health under these conditions without any major concern arising from doing so… except of course for theincrease in the thatch layer that can occur under these full sun conditions.
Therefore, Buffalo should be considered as a grass preferred for shaded conditions.
Buffalo Grass Appearance
Just as some people love the appearance of the wide leaf of buffalo grass, just as many people don't like it. The appearance of buffalo grass is that of the very wide leaf blades of course, but also of the masses of thick runners which can be seen in the buffalo grass from its above ground runners called stolons.
Once again, we must say that aesthetics should not be the deciding factor if your home environment requires a lawn type for shady conditions. If the lawn area has shade up to 40% then Zoysia is a very good lawn choice as an alternative, but for shaded areas between 40% to 70% shade, then buffalo is the only lawn choice for many homeowners.
The Lawn Guide has a specialty section on Zoysia grass.
Take All Root Rot
Take all root rot can be a common buffalo grass disease in many areas of Australia, and cannot be cured, and once a buffalo lawn is infected, the owner of the buffalo lawn has two options. The first option being to manage the disease and try and keep the lawn looking as healthy as possible by cultural management methods such as regular fertilising, removing shade, carefully managing water etc.
And the other alternative to treat Take All Root Rot is to remove the lawn and plant a different lawn type.
Take All does not infect all buffalo lawns, nor a majority, but it is very serious, and as such it must be included into our weaknesses column for buffalo grass as a possible concern for some unlucky buffalo grass lawn owners.
Kikuyu Invading Buffalo
Kikuyu invasion is another of those awful things that can happen to buffalo grass, and which can easily and quickly destroy an entire lawn worth thousands of dollars in a matter of a year or two.
Kikuyu is a very weedy grass, its seeds are very fine and travel easily on shoes, the fur of pets, on birds, kids bikes etc. And Kikuyu doesn't just invade buffalo grass, it invades all other grass types too.
The problem with Kikuyu and Buffalo is that Kikuyu can easily hide itself amongst buffalo grass very easily and stay hidden from being noticed for a very long time. And as such, when many people first realise that kikuyu has invaded their lawn, it is often too late and the entire buffalo lawn has been taken over by kikuyu… destroying the buffalo lawn.
There are ways to treat Kikuyu in Buffalo, but they are not easy, and there is no selective spray available. In fact, one turf expert from Sydney NSW advised that the overwhelming majority of new buffalo grass lawns turn into Kikuyu within 5 years of planting the new lawn, which is another very serious concern.
See our article Kikuyu in Buffalo Grass.
In the end, the homeowner will need to decide for themselves whether buffalo grass is the best lawn for their homes, or if another lawn type may be more suitable.
But such a choice should be made on honest facts, and not based on the advertising of marketing companies which may not always readily be sharing all the truths, both good and bad with their potential new clients.
Buffalo is a good grass, and far better than grasses such as common weedy Kikuyu. And the purpose of this article is to ensure that everyone whose needs dictate a buffalo lawn can choose buffalo with confidence, and that everyone whose needs would be better served with another grass, can also choose so with confidence so that they don't end up buying a grass which may not be suitable for their needs.
Freedom of choice - with confidence - based on facts.