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Why Does Buffalo Grass Thatch

We talk about thatch in buffalo grass a lot on this site, and thats mainly because it is a real concern and real trait which is prevalent in all buffalo grasses, including the new soft buffalo grasses too. And the main reason why thatch is such a great concern to buffalo lawns over other lawn types is because the thatch in buffalo continues to build onto the height of the buffalo lawn, often adding many many inches of old dead runners onto the lawn surface.

These traits are inherent in buffalo grass when it is grown as a lawn.

However, there is one huge variant in all of this, a variant which will cause buffalo grass in one area to grow very little thatch, while if grown in another area the buffalo will grow substantial amounts of thatch.

Buffalo Grass and Full Sunlight

That single variant which determines how much thatch a buffalo lawn will grow… is sunlight.

The more buffalo grass is exposed to direct sunlight, the more it will develop that inherent thick layer of thatch. Meaning that when buffalo grass is used as a lawn in open sunny areas, then the natural response of the buffalo will be to grow its thatch layer much denser and thicker.

Think about this for a moment, as I myself did on discovering this new research data. All those buffalo lawns with the thatch layers which reached up to 10 inches high… all those lawns were being grown in full sun.

Buffalo Grass and Shade

In stark contrast, when we observe buffalo grass being grown in partial shade, the thatch layer is drastically diminished, and this fact has been backed up by independent scientific research and proven true.

Buffalo grass is a grass for shady areas. It always has been, our grandparents and their parents knew this when they grew their buffalo lawns in years gone by. But for some unknown reason we seem to have forgotten what our predecessors knew as fact.

Buffalo grass is naturally a very shade tolerant grass and is one of the best, least invasive and durable grass types for this very purpose of when we want to grow a lawn in areas where there is partial shade, and other lawn types such as Couch, Queensland Blue and Kikuyu just will not cope.


Thatch is an inherent trait in all buffalo grasses, and will become at its very worst when buffalo grass is grown in positions of full sun.

Buffalo is a fantastic shade tolerant grass, which develops far less thatch when grown for its proper purpose and in its preferred position of partial shade.

With these things in mind, while we love buffalo grass, we must remember where to use this grass to achieve its best results as a home lawn, and try not to grow it in places where it doesn't rightly belong.

Buffalo is a grass for partial shade.

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