To successfully plant Buffalo grass seed, the area must be cleared of all vegetation and weeds. Then, the area should be tilled and rolled to promote strong buffalo grass root growth. Seed the cleared and tilled area with 3–5 pounds of buffalo grass seed per 1,000 square feet. After seeding, rake the area to bury buffalo grass seed ¼–½ inch deep. Water the seeded area daily for 1 week, gradually reducing watering over the following weeks. Buffalo grass will sprout within 15–30 days following seeding.
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7 Steps for Planting Buffalo Grass Seed
Buffalo grass is a durable warm-season turfgrass native to the plains region of North America. Because it is a native species, it grows exceptionally well in many areas of the western United States, making for a great low-maintenance turfgrass. It requires 50%–75% less water than other common grass species, has low fertilizer needs, and remains healthy even with infrequent mowing.
In fact, Buffalo grass is so low maintenance that seeding a new Buffalo grass lawn is often the most difficult part of lawn care. Follow these steps to ensure you successfully establish a beautiful and hassle-free lawn.
Remove Existing Weeds and Plants
The first step toward establishing a successful Buffalo grass lawn is to remove all weeds and plants that will compete with the grass seedlings for nutrients and water.
Spray the area with a non-selective weed killer, such as Roundup, to kill existing weeds and grasses. It’s often worthwhile to spray once, wait 1 week for weeds and grass to die, and then spray with weed killer a second time to wipe out any surviving weeds and grasses.
Till the Soil
Use a tiller (a motorized tiller can often be rented from your local hardware store) to till soil to a depth of 3–6 inches. Buffalo grass thrives in loose soil and tilling to 6 inches promotes strong Buffalo grass root growth, making your lawn more drought-resistant. Properly established buffalo grass is one of the most drought-resistant turf grasses available, able to survive extreme conditions.
Roll the Soil
To ensure proper seed-to-soil contact, rake or compact recently tilled soil to the point where, when walked upon, your footprints sink only ½ inch deep. At this point, the soil is compact enough to allow seeds to draw water and nutrients, but loose enough to encourage deep root growth.
Although raking is a good way to compact tilled soil and break up dirt clods in small yards, larger areas can be compacted through the use of a lawn roller towed behind a mower or tractor.
Remove any New Weeds
Tilling churns the soil, bringing buried weed seeds to the surface, where they can sprout. For this reason, it’s essential to water your yard twice per week for 2 weeks after tilling and rolling. This allows time for any weed seeds brought to the surface during tilling to sprout.
Once these new weeds have sprouted, perform another sweep with your weed killer spray to truly clear your future Buffalo grass yard of invasive plant life. If you skip this step, you will have weeds sprouting among your new Buffalo grass, depriving your seedlings of nourishment and potentially taking over your yard.
Cast Grass Seed
Buffalo grass seed grows best when soil temperatures are 60–80℉ (15–27℃). The best way to gauge soil temperature is by consulting a soil temperature map for your region. As a good rule of thumb, soil temperatures are typically optimal when daytime air temperatures are 70–90℉ (21–32℃). In most regions, this makes early-June through mid-July the best time to seed Buffalo grass.
For best results, use a drop spreader to cast 3–5 pounds of Buffalo grass seed for every 1,000 square feet of the tilled and prepped ground. Cast half the seed in a north-south pattern. Then, cast the second half of the seed in an east-west pattern. This will ensure the best ground coverage and a thick Buffalo grass lawn.
Cover Your Grass Seed
Use a rake or similar tool to cover your Buffalo grass seed after casting. By burying Buffalo grass seed ¼–½ inch below the surface you will experience the highest germination rate and best lawn results.
Although Buffalo grass seed on the surface will sprout, seeds on the surface are more likely to be disturbed by wind and rain or to be eaten by birds. If some grass seed is still visible after raking, that’s acceptable. Buffalo grass seed buried more than ½ inch deep may not sprout. When given the option of burying seed too deeply or leaving it exposed, it’s better to leave some Buffalo grass seed on the surface.
Water Buffalo Grass Seed
For 1 week after seeding, water your seeded area once each day. ½ inch of water (around a half-hour of watering with a sprinkler) is sufficient. If water pools or runs off the turf, reduce watering time.
The second week after seeding, reduce the watering frequency to once every 2 days. Finally, the third week after seeding, reduce watering to once every 3 days. Continue watering at a volume of ½ inch.
Following the third week, transition to a normal watering schedule. Buffalo grass requires about ½–1 inch of water once per week. By this point, you should have a large crop of Buffalo grass seedlings in your yard.
Buffalo Grass Growing Season
Buffalo grass grows best in warm weather, from May through September. Buffalo grass typically enters dormancy shortly after the first fall frost, remaining dormant until mid-Spring.
Because Buffalo grass grows so strongly through the summer months, the best time to seed typically begins in early June and extends through most of July. Do not seed Buffalo Grass after August 1st. Young grass can be killed by frost, and Buffalo grass won’t have time to establish strong roots before winter if it is seeded too late in the year.
Buffalo Grass Growing Zone
Buffalo grass is native to the American plains and can grow naturally in regions from Northern Mexico to Southern Canada. However, it may not make for an attractive turfgrass in all these regions. Buffalo grass is a warm-season grass that enters dormancy when nighttime temperatures are low enough to encourage frost. Because it is so drought-tolerant, it is best suited to arid and semi-arid regions in the American South and West.
Buffalo grass thrives best in Central and West Texas (west of Dallas/Fort Worth), through New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah, and Colorado, as well as portions of Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming. In these regions, Buffalo grass thrives with little maintenance, making it the easiest grass to maintain of all varieties cultivated in the US.
How Long Does Buffalo Grass Take to Grow?
Buffalo grass seed sprouts 15–30 days after being cast, with most of the seeds germinating within 21 days. Once it sprouts, Buffalo grass grows quickly in summer months, spreading via aboveground stolons or “runners” to cover the seeded area. A Buffalo grass lawn can be established within the first year of seeding.
How Much Water Does Buffalo Grass Need?
Buffalo grass requires 1–2 inches of water every 2–4 weeks to maintain a lush, green appearance. When watering Buffalo grass, fewer watering sessions with a higher volume of water yield better results because this stimulates deep root growth. Experiment with ½–1 inch of water once per week (30–60 minutes with a sprinkler) and adjust as necessary.
Buffalo grass is extremely drought resistant. If your region experiences drought conditions, Buffalo grass will enter dormancy. The blades will brown but the grass can survive belowground for long periods. For this reason, Buffalo grass is the top choice if you live in a region susceptible to drought.
Can Buffalo Grass Grow in Shade?
Buffalo grass grows best when exposed to at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. This allows Buffalo grass to tolerate light shade, but it will not extend far into heavily shaded areas. You will get the best results by seeding Buffalo grass in sunny yards, where it naturally grows well and promotes a “meadow” appearance.
Buffalo Grass Growing Tips
Buffalo grass is a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant grass that is easy to care for when mature. However, seeding a new Buffalo grass lawn requires some precise preparation for the best results.
- Clear the area of all existing grass and weeds.
- Till the soil to a depth of 6 inches to promote strong grass root growth.
- Rake or roll tilled soil to slightly compact it and break up dirt clods.
- Wait 2 weeks for new weeds to sprout and remove them.
- Cast 3–5 pounds of Buffalo grass seed per 1,000 square feet of tilled earth.
- Cover seeds at a depth of ¼–½ inch.
- Water daily for 7 days immediately following seeding.
- Reduce watering gradually over the following 2 weeks as Buffalo grass seedlings sprout.
Following these steps will jump-start your Buffalo grass. Once your seeds have come up and established themselves, you will have a full Buffalo grass lawn within the first year of seeding.