We're all concerned with our environmental footprint in our country these days, and a fair bit of flack has been put onto our lawns as somehow not being so, when in fact - our lawns are wonderfully friendly environmental assets, and which clean more pollution from our cities than all other plant life. Lawns are the lungs of our cities. Plus they cool our homes considerably, lowering air conditioning costs and carbon emissions.
Having said that, most of us can do much more to reduce the impact of our buffalo lawns by reducing maintenance levels, pesticide usage, fertiliser runoff etc. So with this article we'll be discussing how to have the most environmentally friendly buffalo lawn possible.
Choose The Right Buffalo Grass
The single most important thing we must do is to choose the most environmentally friendly buffalo grass. Such a grass will need to have the slowest growth rates, and the lowest levels of thatching. As both these valuable traits will reduce lawn mowing and dethatching requirements for the turf. We also want to choose the best buffalo which can withstand and repair itself after drought conditions… or under heavy water restrictions.
The most environmentally friendly buffalo grass is Palmetto.
Palmetto not only wins in every single category for being environmentally friendly, it often won by massive margins over its competitors. Palmetto consistently won for lowest growth rates - meaning far less lawnmowing, won for lowest thatching in both sun and shade - again requiring less mowing, plus less dethatching, plus the life of a Palmetto lawn will be far longer than other buffalo grasses which will need removal and replacing when its thatch layer becomes too thick. And Palmetto won in drought recovery over all other competitors by enormous margins!
Notes For Buffalo Grass In Shade
Just be aware that the most environmentally friendly buffalo grass for low shade and sun, will not necesarily be the lowest maintenance buffalo in heavier shade. In heavier shade conditions, the lawn owner will need to look at the best buffalo grass for shade, as this will create the most beautiful lawn with the least effort possible, making it the most environmentally friendly buffalo over Palmetto in shaded conditions.
Water Deep - Water Less Often
We want to reduce water usage to our buffalo lawn as much as possible, as well as making the turf far more drought tolerant. We do this by watering the lawn far less often, and more deeply, and by switching off all automatic sprinkler systems.
We must only ever water our buffalo lawn once it shows signs of wilting. This will be us allowing our lawn to tell us when it needs a drink instead of us telling the lawn when it needs water by using some type of watering schedule.
When we water, we must then water deeply, using more water than what we normally would. While we're using more water, we're watering less often so we're actually reducing our overall water usage for our lawns.
This form of watering encourages our lawn to send its roots far deeper into the soil, making the lawn far more drought tolerant, and will need less and less water as the years pass by and the roots of the buffalo lawn go deeper.
Fertilise Those Buffalo Lawns
An environmentally friendly buffalo lawn should be fertilised with a year round fertilising program. Now while the overuse of fertiliser does cause environmental damage, good fertilising practices will actually be highly beneficial to the lawn and to the environment.
If we fertilise properly, and at the correct times of year, using correct amounts of fertiliser - and no more, there will be no fertiliser runoff from the lawn at all, the lawn will use all of the fertiliser we give to it.
A good year round fertilising program will help keep our lawns in the best health possible, and allow it to fight off and recover quickly from many different lawn diseases, pests and will outcompete all weeds. All this means our use of weed sprays and other pesticides will be massively reduced.
Be careful not to over fertilise, as this can encourage the lawn to grow too fast, meaning more lawn mowing, will cause fertiliser runoff into the environment, and can weaken the buffalo turf so that it becomes prone to weeds, pests and diseases.
Good Buffalo Lawn Mowing Practices
Soft buffalo grasses need to be mowed higher than other warm season grass types such as Couch and Queensland Blue. 30 to 40 mm is optimum for sun and low shade, and 40 to 60 mm height is best for more shaded conditions. Mowing at these heights will ensure the best possible buffalo lawn health.
Mowing at correct heights will also greatly aid in having a buffalo lawn which can most easily outcompete and drown out any new weeds trying to take a foothold in our lawns.
Regular lawn mowing of buffalo grass when needed will also encourage green leaf growth and a healthier lawn, which can in turn fight off weeds, pests and diseases far easier and with least effort from the lawn owner.
As a warning to lawn owners who mow their buffalo grass lawns too low… lawns kept at such low heights will be far more prone to all weeds, pests and diseases, will require more watering, will go brown and be in poorer health more often, and will require far more lawn repair as a result - buffalo lawns mowed too short are environmentally unfriendly, and the resulting poor health often makes these lawns look very ugly.
Keeping On Top Of Problems Early
All weeds, pests and diseases are most easily managed, controlled and overcome during their earliest stages of infestation into our lawns. Its far better to pull a few weeds by hand than have to spray an entire lawn with herbicides. And its far better to spot treat a little wintergrass than to spray the entire lawn in a few years time when the weed has consumed the entire lawn.
The same scenario applies to lawn diseases, treat as early as possible and we'll use the least amount of fungicide and with the greatest chance of success.
Treat buffalo lawn problems early, and we guarantee the best chance of success with the lowest possible environmental impact.
Wetting agents are a product which allows for far easier water penetration and water flow through our soils, and can help with many soil issues in regard to the best use of water, free flowing of water, and water distribution in the soil. As a result we can expect healthier lawns which make better use of the water we give to the buffalo turf.
Wetting agents have no environmental impacts and cannot damage the turf.
Apply wetting agents once or twice a year for regular lawn care practices, or up to four times a year for lawns which experience water issues with its soil.
Natural Lawn Foods
Lawn care products based on things like seaweed, manures, blood and bone and other such products can be a wonderful addition of nutrients for our lawns. We can choose to use these products in our year round fertilising program, however they can never replace a good quality lawn fertiliser for the benefits and the nutrition a quality lawn fertiliser provides.
In using these natural based lawn products we can look at replacing our january lawn fertilising with these products, and perhaps another fertiliser application throughout the year as well.
These products are a great source of natural nutrients and many different micro-organisms which cannot always be found in traditional fertilisers, and can aid greatly in overall soil health for the lawn, which results in a better, healthier lawn.
Summary - An Environmentally Friendly Buffalo Lawn
In summary, what we're trying to achieve with an environmentally friendly buffalo lawn is a reduction in all areas of turf maintenance possible, a reduction in as many new lawn problems from ever occurring, allowing the lawn to repair itself and fight off problems on its own - with its own good health, and by reducing the use of environmentally damaging products.
In summary - these are our goals:
- Choose the most environmentally friendly buffalo grass - Palmetto
- no other buffalo comes close to Palmetto for lowest maintenance and highest quality
- Reduce Lawn Mowing
- by planting the buffalo with lowest mowing requirements - Palmetto
- still mow regularly - as required - to keep the lawn lush, healthy and strong
- Fertilise Properly
- apply quality fertiliser in correct quantities and at correct times of year
- do not over fertilise
- Treat Problems Early
- treating weeds, pests and diseases early returns the greatest results with least environmental impact
- Mow Properly
- mow higher, mow regularly as required, do not mow too short
- Water Deeply and Less Often
- create deeper root systems, and a lawn which requires less water as time goes on
- water only when the grass tells us it needs a drink, and water deeply