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My Love Affair with Buffalograss, Buchloe dactyloides

 
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I found this grass was growing around my Monarch Garden though I did not know what it was.  So after a year of looking at it, I decided to find out what it is.  I identified it through the runners.

So far, it has stayed low enough that no mowing has been necessary.

This is what Richard L. Duble, Turfgrass Specialist, Texas Cooperative Extension has to say about it.

Native lawns in Texas often display the fine, curly, blue-green leaves of buffalograss, curly mesquite, grama and needlegrasses. Of these, buffalograss produces the most uniform and attractive turf.

Buffalograss, Buchloe dactyloides, is a perennial grass native to the Great Plains from Montana to Mexico. In Texas, it is commonly found from South Texas to the Texas Panhandle; but is rarely found on the sandy soils in the eastern part of the state or in the high rainfall areas of southeast Texas. It is one of the grasses that supported the great herds of buffalo that roamed the Great Plains. Buffalograss also provided the sod from which early settlers built their houses.

Buffalograss is, perhaps, our only truly native turfgrass. Its tolerance to prolonged droughts and to extreme temperatures together with its seed producing characteristics enables buffalograss to survive extreme environmental conditions. Overgrazing and, in the case of turf, over use or excessive traffic are the pressures that lead to the deterioration of a stand of buffalograss.

Buffalograss spreads by surface runners, or stolons, and seed. It forms a fine textured, relatively thin turf with a soft blue-green color. It does not possess underground stems, or rhizomes. Buffalograss is also destroyed quite readily by cultivation. For these reasons, it can be readily removed from flower beds and gardens.



https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/turf/publications/buffalo.html

I have no idea how this grass would perform in other locations.  For my location, it does not need any water and does not need to be mowed.  Like the above says ... it is easy to pull out of flower beds.

My plan is to root the runners and continue to encourage it to grow around the garden.  I will plant the runners where needed in the spring.


Buffalograss, Buchloe dactyloides




Runners:




Seedhead:

 
Anne Miller
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I thought I would post an update on my Buchloe dactyloides, buffalograss.

It continues to spread around the wildflower garden and I now have a large patch in our driveway.  Most of what grasses I have are natives, as far as I know.  They are different types of bunch grass and some have irritating seed heads that blow all over the place.

I am hoping the buffalograss will eventually choke them out.

It is helping with erosion since it is covering what was bare caliche ground.

It never gets watered or mowed!



Buffalograss is a warm-season perennial shortgrass. It is drought-, heat-, and cold-resistant. Foliage is usually 5–13 cm (2.0–5.1 in) high, though in the southern Great Plains, foliage may reach 30 cm (12 in). Buffalograss is usually dioecious, but sometimes monoecious or with perfect flowers. Flower stalks are 10–20 cm (3.9–7.9 in) tall. The male inflorescence is a panicle; the female inflorescence consists of short spikelets borne in burlike clusters, usually with two to four spikelets per bur.

Buffalograss sends out numerous, branching stolons; occasionally, it also produces rhizomes. Roots are also numerous and thoroughly occupy the soil. The numerous stolons and roots form a dense sod.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouteloua_dactyloides



Here is what the plugs look like:



Seedheads:





 
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Anne, there were times when I really wished I could grow Buffalograss.  I think it is a beautiful lawn grass, and I love it’s drought resistant qualities.  Unfortunately I think it tends to drown in my region as while we can get some high summer heat and the occasional summer drought, our winters and early springs are very wet, apparently too wet for Buffalograss.

When we first moved into our house we did so at the beginning of a 3 year period where we had some extreme summer drought.  I was trying to get a lawn started and it just did not want to take hold due to the hot, dry weather.  At these times I really envied those who could plant Buffalograss.  Finally, on the fourth year, the summer was finally wet enough that the lawn got established.

Great stuff that Buffalograss!

Eric
 
Anne Miller
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Eric, thanks for sharing your experience with it.

I feel that I live where it is its natural home.  BTW, I did not plant mine as it adopted me.

Our home site was totally void of grasses.  They all slowly moved in and found homes.  Buffalograss is the only one I like.

Some of the ones in our rock meadow have tall plumb like seedhead which are petty though.
 
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Anne I'm seriously thinking about buffalo grass thanks to you.  Do you have any pictures of what it looks like in the winter.  My only reservation is I've read it turns brown in the winter, and it doesn't like shade.  Apparently it needs at least half a days sun.  So this makes it hard to decide. It should do amazing in most of our yard. Except the perimeter of our front yard in the front is lined with trees. Our back yard is dominated by a huge walnut tree.  Under that tree. Doesn't see any sun summer and fall.  So it won't work there.  I'm just not sure how it will look using the different kinds of grass.  I have never really cared what the lawn looked like, but I also don't want to go to a lot of work to end up with something that looks bad.  Thanks for all your information, and sharing your love of buffalo grass.  
 
Anne Miller
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Thanks for the reply, Jen.

Mine either stays green in winter or turns somewhat dormant looking.  I can't quite remember the color in winter except I don't remember it being as brown like bermudagrass turns in the winter.

It is slowly taking over all my property, which is a good thing.

I found this article with these pictures, mine never looks like that. First mine doesn't get that tall because probably where I live.

The October picture is more what I remember from winter.

The January picture might be from an area that get a lot colder than where I live.

https://hoffmannursery.com/blog/article/try-a-different-lawn-with-buffalo-grass

 
Jen Fulkerson
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Thank you very much.  The last few years it only just barely froze I think 2 times, so maybe it will stay greenish.  Thanks for the article.
 
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