Buffalo grass (Bouteloua dactyloides) was a primary food source for the large herds of bison roaming the plains in years past, hence the name. It is today used primarily for cattle and other livestock on ranches in its native region. Lawns of buffalo grass consist of both male and female plants when established naturally. Male plants have taller crowns and long seed stalks, while the female plants provide a more uniform, dense lawn. Lawn grass seeds of the buffalo grass variety selectively consist of female seeds.
A grass found across the plains states, buffalo grass grows from Mexico to Montana. It is a true native grass of the North American plains region. It fed the buffalo herds that roamed this area and was the sod from which early settlers built their homes.
Buchloe dactyloides, its scientific name, is extremely tolerant of hot, dry climates. Intolerant of shade and excessive moisture, buffalo grass rarely grows in the sandy or moist environments commonly found in the Southeast.
Seed germination rate is good to excellent. You can grow buffalo grass lawns by both seeding and sod. Early spring, early summer and early fall are good times of year to plant seeds. As long as adequate water is available, buffalo grass seeds germinate in 7 to 10 days in warm weather. Seeds planted in the fall will remain dormant until the following spring when soil temperatures warm.
Buffalo grass requires little maintenance. As a matter of fact, excessive maintenance or foot traffic quickly kills the grass off. No fertilization is needed to sustain buffalo grass when grown in its native environment. While the grass responds well to nitrogen, weed grasses such as bermuda grass respond better to fertilization and will readily invade the turf. Likewise, over-irrigation will tend to propagate weeds rather than providing a benefit to the buffalo grass lawn.