Buffalo Grass Installation: Your Guide to a Water-Wise Lawn

Buffalo Grass Installation: Your Guide to a Water-Wise Lawn

Buffalo grass, a warm-season turfgrass native to North America, has gained popularity in recent years due to its low water requirements and adaptability to various climates.  This fine-textured, green grass offers a beautiful and functional lawn option, particularly in regions facing water restrictions.  Installing buffalo grass requires some preparation but can be a rewarding DIY project or tackled by a professional landscaping service.

Deciding on Buffalo Grass: Pros and Cons

Before diving into installation, consider the advantages and disadvantages of buffalo grass to ensure it aligns with your needs:


  • Drought Tolerance: Buffalo grass thrives with significantly less water compared to traditional turfgrasses. This translates to lower water bills and environmental benefits.
  • Low Maintenance: Buffalo grass requires less frequent mowing due to its slower growth rate. It’s also naturally resistant to most pests and diseases, reducing the need for harsh chemicals.
  • Adaptability: Certain buffalo grass varieties can tolerate a range of soil conditions and climates, making them suitable for various regions.
  • Soft Texture: Buffalo grass offers a comfortable, barefoot-friendly surface, perfect for playing children and pets.


  • Warm-Season Grass: Buffalo grass goes dormant and turns brown during colder months. This may be a concern in areas with long, harsh winters.
  • Slower Establishment: Compared to some cool-season grasses, buffalo grass establishes slower from seed. Using sod can expedite the process but comes at a higher cost.
  • Limited Traffic Tolerance: Buffalo grass doesn’t tolerate heavy foot traffic as well as some other turfgrasses.

Preparing the Ground for Buffalo Grass Installation

Once you’ve decided on buffalo grass installation, meticulous soil preparation is key to successful establishment. Here’s a breakdown of the steps involved:

  1. Soil Testing: Conduct a soil test to determine the pH level and nutrient content. Buffalo grass prefers slightly acidic soil (pH 6.0-7.0). Amend the soil as needed to achieve the optimal range.
  2. Clear the Area: Remove any existing vegetation, weeds, rocks, and debris from the designated area. This ensures a clean slate for the new grass.
  3. Tilling and Leveling: Till the soil to a depth of 4-6 inches to loosen it and promote root growth. Use a rake or leveler to create a smooth, even surface free of bumps or dips.
  4. Edging (Optional): Install edging around the perimeter of the lawn to define the area and prevent buffalo grass from spreading into unwanted zones.
  5. Soil Amendments: Spread a thin layer of compost or aged manure over the prepared soil. This adds organic matter and vital nutrients for healthy grass growth.

Planting Buffalo Grass: Seed vs. Sod

You have two main options for establishing your buffalo grass lawn: seeding or sodding.

  • Seeding: Seeding is a more cost-effective approach but requires patience as it takes longer for the grass to establish itself. Buffalo grass seed should be planted during the warm season, typically late spring or early summer, when soil temperatures reach around 60°F (15°C). Ensure consistent light watering to keep the seeds moist during germination.
  • Sodding: Sodding offers a faster and more immediate transformation of your yard. Pre-grown buffalo grass sod is laid directly onto the prepared soil.  Water thoroughly after installation to ensure good contact between the sod and the underlying soil.

Choosing Between Seed and Sod:

Consider these factors when deciding between seeding and sodding:

  • Budget: Seeding is cheaper than sodding.
  • Time: Sodding provides a quicker green lawn, while seeding takes time for establishment.
  • Experience Level: Seeding requires more ongoing care and may be trickier for beginners.
  • Availability: Sod availability can be limited in certain regions.

Buffalo Grass Installation and Aftercare

For Seeding:

  1. Spread the seeds evenly over the prepared soil using a spreader or by hand.
  2. Lightly rake the seeds into the top layer of soil to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.
  3. Apply a thin layer of straw mulch to retain moisture and suppress weed growth.
  4. Water the seeded area consistently, keeping the soil surface moist but not soggy.

For Sodding:

  1. Lay the sod strips carefully, starting at a straight edge and working your way outwards. Ensure all seams fit together snugly without gaps.
  2. Use a sod roller or your foot to press the sod firmly onto the underlying soil to eliminate air pockets and promote rooting with tree care.
  3. Water the sod thoroughly immediately after installation and continue to water regularly, especially during the first few weeks, to ensure proper establishment.

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