This tough native grass requires less water and less fertilizer than non-native grasses, making it a great lawn replacement.
Buffalo Grass: A Great Choice for Lawns
Buffalo Grass is a low-maintenance, tough grass native to the Great Plains of North America. Imagine thousands of miles of the great plains being filled with this grass, while wild buffalo roamed and ate the grass (hence the name.) It may have been one of the most common plants in America for millions of years, standing up to every type of weather imaginable.
If the grass can stand up to roaming herds of buffalo, it can stand up to being trampled on as a lawn. Buffalo grass was first used as turf grass in the 1930s. It used to have a reputation for being expensive and hard to work with, but newer Buffalo Grass cultivars include options that make it easier to plant and thrive.
Buffalo Grass as a…house?
There are many written accounts of settlers describing the rolling acres and acres of Buffalo Grass when the west was first settled. The grass was dug up and used for sod homes of the early European settlers.
Buffalo grass for lawns
Buffalo grass is a great native plant for lawns. We can thank the buffalos for its turf-like growing habits. Buffalo learned to only eat the top young tips of the grass, leaving the roots and stems intact to grow. In other words, Buffalo Grass is quite at home with our lawnmowers.
Because Buffalo Grass has spent thousands of years in North America, it is a very hardy plant that does not require a lot of care. Buffalo grass is a great plant for people who want a low-maintenance lawn with little watering or fertilizer (did you know normal lawns take 2400% MORE TIME than native gardens?!). Its texture can be tougher than non-native grasses—the grass blades are thicker and wider than the standard non-native seed that comes from Home Depot. But Buffalo Grass is a beautiful, native plant that adds interest and texture. It builds strong root structures, which helps the grass better withstand drought and sun, making it more resilient to withstand extreme droughts.
Buffalo grass can grow in all types of soils, including clay.
How to plant Buffalo Grass
Buffalo grass is a perennial that spreads by stolons, which are little runner shoots that come off of a plant to create new plants. If you’ve seen a strawberry plant grow—long, thin arms shooting out to start other plants—you know how stolons work.
- Harris, Marjorie. Botanica North America: The Illustrated Guide to Our Native Plants, Their Botany, History, and the Way They Have Shaped Our World. (2003), 289-290.