Buffalo Grass (Buchloe Dactyloides ‘Cody’)

Plant: Table of Contents

Buffalo Grass (Buchloe dactyloides ‘Cody’): A Comprehensive Guide

Introduction to Buffalo Grass

Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides ‘Cody’) is a warm-season perennial grass that is native to the North American prairies. It is known for its fine texture, low water requirements, and excellent drought tolerance, making it an ideal choice for lawns, parks, and golf courses in arid regions. The ‘Cody’ variety, in particular, has gained popularity for its dense growth habit and attractive appearance.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the characteristics, cultivation, uses, care instructions, and maintenance of buffalo grass. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a novice enthusiast, this guide will provide valuable insights into harnessing the full potential of buffalo grass in your landscaping endeavors.

Buffalo Grass Characteristics

Buffalo grass is celebrated for its distinct features, which contribute to its popularity as a low-maintenance and resilient turf grass option. Here are some key characteristics of buffalo grass:

  • Fine texture and dense growth habit
  • Exceptional drought tolerance
  • Low water requirements
  • Ability to thrive in various soil types
  • Adaptability to a wide range of climates
  • Minimal mowing and fertilization needs
  • High tolerance to foot traffic
  • Excellent cold hardiness
  • Superior heat tolerance

Buffalo Grass Planting Tips

When it comes to planting buffalo grass, certain considerations and techniques can ensure successful establishment and growth. Here are some essential tips for planting buffalo grass:

Seed Selection

Selecting high-quality buffalo grass seed is critical to achieving desirable results. Look for certified seeds with good germination rates and minimal impurities.

Planting Season

The optimal time for planting buffalo grass is during the late spring or early summer when the soil temperature reaches around 60°F (15.5°C). This timing allows the seeds to germinate and establish robust root systems before the onset of harsh environmental conditions.

Ground Preparation

Prepare the planting site by removing any debris, rocks, or weeds. Loosen the soil to a depth of about 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10.2 cm) to create a favorable environment for seed establishment.

Planting Density

Spread the buffalo grass seeds evenly, aiming for a seeding rate of approximately 2 to 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet (0.9 to 1.4 kg per 93 square meters). Ensure uniform coverage to promote consistent growth.

Soil Requirements

Buffalo grass thrives in well-draining soils with a slightly acidic to alkaline pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. Conduct a soil test to assess the soil pH and make any necessary amendments before planting.


After planting, keep the soil consistently moist to support seed germination. Gradually reduce watering frequency as the buffalo grass establishes to encourage deep root growth.

Buffalo Grass Maintenance

Maintaining buffalo grass involves various tasks and practices to ensure its health, longevity, and aesthetic appeal. Here are key maintenance aspects to consider:

Mowing Techniques

Buffalo grass generally requires minimal mowing due to its low growth habit. Set the mower height to around 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm) and avoid cutting more than one-third of the grass’s height in a single mowing session.


Buffalo grass has relatively low fertilizer requirements compared to other turf grasses. Apply a balanced fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio in the late spring or early summer to promote healthy growth.

Weed Control

Regularly inspect the buffalo grass lawn for weeds and employ targeted spot treatments as needed. Pre-emergent herbicides can also be applied in the early spring to prevent weed infestations.

Disease Prevention

Buffalo grass is known for its natural resistance to many common lawn diseases. However, promoting good air circulation, proper watering practices, and avoiding excessive thatch buildup can further reduce the risk of diseases.

Pest Management

Keep an eye out for common lawn pests such as grubs, armyworms, and chinch bugs that can damage buffalo grass. Implement integrated pest management strategies and use insecticidal treatments sparingly when necessary.

Watering Requirements

Once established, buffalo grass exhibits remarkable drought tolerance. However, during prolonged dry spells, provide supplemental watering to prevent excessive wilting and stress on the grass.

Buffalo Grass Uses

Buffalo grass serves various practical and aesthetic purposes in landscaping and ecological restoration. Understanding its diverse uses can help homeowners, landscape architects, and conservationists leverage its unique qualities. Here are some common uses of buffalo grass:

  • Lawn Turf: Buffalo grass is often utilized as a low-maintenance turf grass for residential and commercial lawns, reducing the need for extensive watering and maintenance.
  • Erosion Control: Due to its deep root system and ability to form dense sod, buffalo grass is an effective erosion control plant in sloped or vulnerable areas.
  • Native Landscaping: In naturalistic landscaping and native prairie restorations, buffalo grass contributes to the authenticity and ecological value of the landscape.
  • Golf Course Groundcover: Many golf courses in arid regions use buffalo grass in non-play areas and roughs due to its hardiness and minimal maintenance requirements.
  • Wildlife Habitat: The dense growth of buffalo grass provides cover and foraging habitat for small mammals, birds, and insects, promoting biodiversity in suburban and rural settings.

Buffalo Grass Culture

Buffalo grass culture encompasses the historical, ecological, and cultural significance of this iconic prairie grass. Understanding the cultural context of buffalo grass can deepen appreciation for its resilience and versatility. Here are some key cultural aspects related to buffalo grass:

  • Native American Uses: Indigenous tribes such as the Lakota and Pawnee utilized buffalo grass for medicinal, ceremonial, and practical purposes, highlighting its cultural importance in Native American traditions.
  • Prairie Conservation: Buffalo grass symbolizes the rich biodiversity and ecological importance of the North American prairies, driving conservation efforts to protect and restore native grassland habitats.
  • Homesteading Era: The resilience and adaptability of buffalo grass played a crucial role in sustaining early settlers on the Great Plains, where it provided forage for grazing livestock in harsh conditions.

Buffalo Grass Landscaping Ideas

Incorporating buffalo grass into landscaping designs can add a touch of natural beauty while promoting sustainability and resource efficiency. Here are some creative landscaping ideas featuring buffalo grass:

  • Xeriscape Gardens: Create water-wise xeriscape gardens with buffalo grass as the primary groundcover, reducing irrigation needs and promoting eco-friendly landscaping practices.
  • Native Plant Palettes: Pair buffalo grass with other native prairie plants such as coneflowers, blue grama grass, and prairie clovers to create a harmonious and wildlife-friendly landscape.
  • Ornamental Borders: Use the fine-textured foliage of buffalo grass to edge flower beds, pathways, or rock gardens, providing a soft and naturalistic border for hardscape elements.
  • Rooftop Gardens: Incorporate buffalo grass into green roof designs to enhance insulation, reduce stormwater runoff, and create rooftop habitats for pollinators and birds.

Buffalo Grass Varieties

While Buchloe dactyloides is the primary species of buffalo grass, there are several cultivated varieties that offer specific traits and benefits. Here are some notable buffalo grass varieties:

  • ‘Bison’: Known for its rapid establishment, ‘Bison’ buffalo grass is favored for erosion control and ecological restoration projects.
  • ‘EcoTurf’: This variety boasts exceptional heat and cold tolerance, making it a popular choice for sustainable landscaping in diverse climates.
  • ‘Cody’: Celebrated for its dense growth habit and fine texture, ‘Cody’ buffalo grass is a top choice for residential lawns and recreational areas.

Buffalo Grass Environmental Benefits

Buffalo grass offers a range of environmental benefits, making it a sustainable and eco-friendly landscaping option. Understanding these benefits can inspire homeowners and land managers to embrace buffalo grass in their outdoor spaces. Here are some environmental advantages of buffalo grass:

  • Water Conservation: With its low water requirements, buffalo grass helps reduce overall water consumption in landscapes, especially in regions prone to drought and water scarcity.
  • Soil Stabilization: The extensive root system of buffalo grass anchors soil, preventing erosion and promoting soil health in both natural and developed landscapes.
  • Carbon Sequestration: As a perennial grass, buffalo grass contributes to carbon sequestration, mitigating the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on the environment.
  • Habitat Restoration: By supporting native prairie ecosystems, buffalo grass contributes to the restoration of diverse plant and animal communities, enhancing ecological resilience.

Buffalo Grass Care Instructions

Providing proper care is essential for the long-term vitality and attractiveness of buffalo grass. Here are detailed care instructions to ensure the health and vibrancy of your buffalo grass lawn:

Sun Exposure Preferences

Buffalo grass thrives in full sun conditions, requiring at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day to maintain optimal growth and vigor.

Soil Requirements

While adaptable to various soil types, buffalo grass prefers well-draining soils with good aeration. Avoid waterlogged or compacted soils to prevent root suffocation.

Watering Guidelines

During the establishment phase, water buffalo grass regularly to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Once established, reduce water frequency, aiming for deep, infrequent watering to encourage robust root development.

Fertilizing Schedule

Apply a balanced fertilizer in the late spring or early summer, following recommended application rates. Avoid over-fertilization, as buffalo grass is sensitive to excessive nitrogen, which can lead to thatch buildup.

Disease Resistance

Buffalo grass exhibits natural resistance to many common turf diseases such as brown patch and dollar spot. However, monitoring for signs of disease and promoting overall lawn health are essential for disease prevention.

Height Maintenance

Maintain buffalo grass at a height of around 3 inches (7.6 cm) to promote a healthy and dense lawn. Avoid scalping the grass, as it can weaken the plants and create openings for weeds to invade.

Buffalo Grass Varieties

While Buchloe dactyloides is the primary species of buffalo grass, there are several cultivated varieties that offer specific traits and benefits. Here are some notable buffalo grass varieties:

  • ‘Bison’: Known for its rapid establishment, ‘Bison’ buffalo grass is favored for erosion control and ecological restoration projects.
  • ‘EcoTurf’: This variety boasts exceptional heat and cold tolerance, making it a popular choice for sustainable landscaping in diverse climates.
  • ‘Cody’: Celebrated for its dense growth habit and fine texture, ‘Cody’ buffalo grass is a top choice for residential lawns and recreational areas.

Buffalo Grass Watering Requirements

Understanding the watering needs of buffalo grass is crucial for maintaining its health and vitality throughout the year. Here are watering guidelines to ensure proper moisture levels for buffalo grass:

Watering Frequency

During the establishment period, buffalo grass requires frequent watering to support seed germination and initial root development. Water the seeded area lightly at least twice a day to keep the soil consistently moist.

Deep Watering

Once the buffalo grass has established, transition to deep, infrequent watering to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance. Water the lawn to a depth of 6 to 8 inches (15.2 to 20.3 cm) every 7 to 10 days, depending on rainfall and local climate conditions.

Drought Tolerance

Buffalo grass exhibits exceptional drought tolerance once established, allowing it to survive extended periods of low moisture without significant stress or decline in overall health. Limited supplemental watering is typically sufficient during dry spells.

Buffalo Grass Disease Prevention

While buffalo grass is known for its natural resistance to many common turf diseases, proactive measures can further enhance disease prevention. Here are essential strategies to prevent diseases in buffalo grass:

Good Air Circulation

Promote air circulation by avoiding excessive thatch buildup, maintaining proper mowing heights, and thinning out overgrown vegetation near the buffalo grass lawn.

Proper Watering

Avoid overwatering, as excessive soil moisture can create favorable conditions for disease development. Water buffalo grass early in the day to allow the foliage to dry quickly and minimize extended periods of leaf wetness.

Thatch Management

Monitor thatch accumulation and perform dethatching as needed to prevent the buildup of organic material that can harbor fungal pathogens and contribute to disease outbreaks.

Disease-Resistant Varieties

Consider planting disease-resistant buffalo grass varieties, such as ‘Cody’, that exhibit enhanced resilience to common turf diseases prevalent in your region.

Buffalo Grass Weed Control

Maintaining a dense and healthy stand of buffalo grass is key to preventing weed encroachment. Here are effective weed control strategies to preserve the integrity of a buffalo grass lawn:

Pre-Emergent Herbicides

Apply pre-emergent herbicides in the early spring to inhibit the germination and establishment of annual grassy and broadleaf weeds, reducing the need for post-emergent herbicide applications.

Spot Treatments

Regularly inspect the buffalo grass lawn for weed invasions and apply targeted spot treatments with selective herbicides to control isolated weed patches without impacting the buffalo grass.

Healthy Lawn Practices

Promote overall lawn health through proper watering, mowing, and fertilization to encourage strong buffalo grass growth, which can outcompete and suppress weed populations.


Use organic mulches such as finely shredded bark or compost around flower beds and landscape borders to discourage weed growth and create a tidy, weed-free transition to buffalo grass areas.

Buffalo Grass Propagation

Propagation of buffalo grass can be achieved through several methods, allowing for the expansion of existing stands or the establishment of new plantings. Here are common propagation techniques for buffalo grass:

Seed Propagation

Buffalo grass can be propagated from seed, with successful germination and establishment occurring under favorable environmental conditions and proper seeding practices.

Division of Sod

Lifting and dividing established buffalo grass sods is a practical method of propagation, enabling the creation of new planting areas and the rejuvenation of older stands.

Plug Planting

Utilize buffalo grass plugs or sod pieces to populate new areas, creating a uniform and established lawn over time through the gradual spread of the propagated plugs.


Transplant individual buffalo grass plants or clumps into prepared soil beds to establish new patches or expand existing lawn areas, ensuring proper care and watering for successful establishment.

Buffalo Grass Soil Requirements

Understanding the soil preferences of buffalo grass is essential for creating a hospitable growing environment and ensuring optimal performance. Here are soil requirements for buffalo grass:

pH Preferences

Buffalo grass thrives in moderately acidic to slightly alkaline soils with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. Conduct a soil test to assess the pH and make necessary amendments if the soil falls outside the ideal range.

Well-Draining Soils

Provide well-draining soil conditions to prevent waterlogging and root suffocation. Incorporate organic matter or sand into heavy clay soils to improve drainage and aeration.

Texture and Structure

Buffalo grass tolerates a wide range of soil textures, from sandy loam to clay loam, as long as the soil structure allows for adequate root penetration and moisture retention.

Nutrient Levels

While buffalo grass is relatively adaptable to soil fertility, avoid excessively rich or poor soils. Balanced nutrient levels support healthy growth without stimulating excessive vegetation or thatch accumulation.

Buffalo Grass Pruning

Pruning requirements for buffalo grass are minimal due to its low growth habit and minimal vertical expansion. Here are guidelines for pruning buffalo grass:

Limited Pruning Needs

Buffalo grass generally requires minimal pruning due to its slow growth and fine texture. Routine mowing is the primary form of maintenance for keeping the grass at an optimal height.

Mowing Height

Maintain buffalo grass at a height of around 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm) to support a healthy and dense lawn. Avoid scalping the grass, as it can weaken the plants and create opportunities for weed infestation.

Grass Clipping Disposal

Allow grass clippings to remain on the lawn after mowing to provide natural mulch and return nutrients to the soil. The decomposition of clippings contributes to soil health and enhances the overall vigor of buffalo grass.

Thatch Management

Monitor thatch accumulation, as excessive thatch can hinder water and air infiltration, leading to stressed and weakened buffalo grass. Perform dethatching as needed to maintain a healthy lawn.

Buffalo Grass Container Popularity

While buffalo grass is primarily established as a turf grass species, it also holds potential for container cultivation in certain situations. Here are insights into the popularity of buffalo grass in container gardening:

Limited Container Use

The popularity of buffalo grass for container gardening is relatively limited, as its growth habit and drought tolerance make it better suited for open landscapes and larger planting areas.

Roof Gardens and Green Roofs

In specialized container settings such as roof gardens and green roofs, buffalo grass can be incorporated into container plantings to contribute to insulation, stormwater management, and biodiversity.

Container Size Considerations

When growing buffalo grass in containers, select large, deep containers to accommodate its deep root system and provide ample room for growth and stability.

Drought-Tolerant Container Planting

Buffalo grass is suitable for xeriscape-style container plantings, offering a water-wise and visually appealing option for outdoor container arrangements in arid regions.

Buffalo Grass Common Diseases

Buffalo grass is generally resistant to many common turf diseases, but occasional issues may arise under certain conditions. Here are some common diseases that can affect buffalo grass:

Brown Patch (Rhizoctonia solani)

Brown patch can occur during periods of high humidity and warm temperatures, causing circular patches of brown, sunken turf. Preventive measures such as proper ventilation and balanced fertilization can minimize its impact.

Dollar Spot (Sclerotinia homoeocarpa)

Dollar spot manifests as small, silver-dollar-sized patches of tan or bleached grass, often appearing during periods of prolonged high humidity and inadequate nitrogen availability. Proper fertilization and thatch management can discourage dollar spot development.

Rust (Puccinia spp.)

Rust diseases can cause orange to yellow rust-like pustules on the grass blades, particularly under conditions of prolonged leaf wetness and mild temperatures. Promote good air circulation and avoid excessive watering to reduce rust occurrence.

Fusarium Blight (Fusarium spp.)

Fusarium blight can lead to irregularly shaped, tan patches of grass with reddish-brown lesions on individual blades. Enhanced lawn health practices, including proper watering and aeration, are beneficial for reducing Fusarium blight incidence.

Buffalo Grass Disease Diagnosis

Diagnosing diseases in buffalo grass involves careful observation and identification of key symptoms to determine the underlying issues. Here are steps for accurate disease diagnosis in buffalo grass:

Visual Symptoms

Inspect the buffalo grass lawn for visual symptoms such as discolored patches, abnormal growth patterns, lesions on the grass blades, and signs of stress or decline.

Environmental Analysis

Consider the environmental conditions and recent weather patterns, as certain diseases are more prevalent under specific climate and moisture levels.

Pathogen Identification

If feasible, consult with a plant pathologist or diagnostic lab to identify the specific pathogens responsible for the observed symptoms and confirm disease presence.

Cultural Practices

Evaluate the lawn’s cultural practices, such as watering routines, fertilization schedules, mowing heights, and thatch management, to identify any potential contributors to disease development.

Buffalo Grass Common Pests

While buffalo grass exhibits good resilience to many pests, several common insect pests can occasionally pose challenges. Here are some common pests that can affect buffalo grass:

White Grubs

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Peter Taylors

Expert botanist who loves plants. His expertise spans taxonomy, plant ecology, and ethnobotany. An advocate for plant conservation, he mentors and educates future botanists, leaving a lasting impact on the field.