Buffalo grass (Bouteloua dactyloides) is a native grass that grows in thin, dry soils of the western half of Texas, from Mexico to the Texas Panhandle, then northward to Canada. It is drought and cold tolerant, and has little disease or pest problems. This grass is not adapted to shady areas or sandy soil, however, and it suffers when used in a heavy traffic area. It looks best when grown in a large area such as a park or golf course, where it can be mowed as low as 1 inch high and irrigated to retain its attractive blue-green color. During dry or cold periods the grass goes into dormancy and turns a yellow-brown color.
Purchase buffalo grass seed that is double treated. What this means is that the seed is soaked in sodium nitrate, stored in a damp environment, then dried. This treatment improves the germination or sprouting rate from 10 percent to 70 percent. Treated seeds are usually dyed blue, purple or green. Expect to plant between 2 and 4 lb. treated seed for each 1000 square feet of lawn or planting area.
Prepare the ground to plant the buffalo grass seed after the last average frost date for your area. You will not plant the seed until daytime temperatures are above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but ground preparation should begin much sooner. You need to remove all vegetation from the soil where the seed is to be planted. This can be done by lightly tilling the soil to pull the vegetation from the ground. Then, pull and rake all vegetation until the ground is smooth.
Water the area over a two week period to encourage new weeds and grasses to sprout. Spray all new vegetation with a weed killer containing glyphosate. Wait another two weeks to be sure all vegetation is dead and the weed killer is no longer viable. You may need to repeat the procedure one more time to completely remove the vegetation. Buffalo grass does not compete very well with weeds and non-native grasses.
Roughen up the soil with a hard rake so the buffalo grass seed has good contact with the soil. Buffalo grass seed is large and light and needs to be covered with about 1/4 inch soil. Also the seed needs to have good contact with the soil.
Prepare the seed for planting by mixing one part seed and five parts dry soil in a bucket. Mix just enough seed and soil so that the bucket is not too heavy, especially if you are planting over a large area. Broadcast or spread by hand the seed and dry soil mixture evenly over the planting area that should be bare soil. Continue to mix the seed and soil and broadcast the mixture over the planting area until you have even coverage. It is OK if you can see some seeds on top of the soil.
Water the planting area so that it is moist, but not soaking wet, for as long as it takes to get the seed sprouted and actively growing. You may need to reseed some areas if the seed germination rate is lower than expected.