Buffalo grass in PA?

seven333July 20, 2009

I've been looking at some of the new cultivars of buffalo grass and some appear well suited to my area, about 50 miles west of Philadelphia. Has anyone had any experience with buffalo grass in a similar climate? What were your impressions? My current lawn is a landscaper mix (new construction) of PR, unimproved bluegrass and weeds. I plan on addressing the lawn this fall and was considering KBG but keeping the lawn watered throughout the year is tough given the lot size (about an acre of grass) and given the limited water supply of my well. My area probably averages about 40+ inches of precipitation a year evenly distributed...is this too much water for the buffalo grass to thrive? Soil is a heavy clay. Thanks.

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Contact your local agricultural extension agent, and some growers of buffalo grass. The named cultivars are very site-specific. Mine (UC Verde) is far more heat tolerant than the others ... reportedly it was rated "P" for pathetic in most of the sites it was tested at, but thrived in Blythe, Yuma, and other arid hell-holes. On the other hand, the ones named for cities in Wyoming (Cody, Laramie, Bowie) thrive in colder areas.

You absolutely must have at least 6-8 hours a day of full sun. With 40 inches of rain a year you probably would only have to water it while it's getting established. Mine gets a 15-minute sprinkle every 4 days (at 110+!).

Clay soil is not a problem, shade is.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 1:12PM
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The problem you may have while establishing the Buffalo is excessive amount of rain. Buffalo can out compete other grasses because of it's low water needs. When other grasses are wilting and drying up Buffalo will thrive. It's going to be tough the first couple of years with the weed grasses which could easily out compete and crowd out the slower growing Buffalo

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 2:13PM
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The 40+ inches of rain are not a problem. I'm down in the Raleigh area in NC, we too, we 40+ of rain yearly. One of my neighbors tried a seeded variety of Bufallo grass about 5 years ago, and today the grass still thriving during the summer. The only problem you are going to have is the brown period when the grass is dormant during the Fall, Winter, and most part of the Spring.

Cool season grasses are the norm here, Fescue and Bluegrass, then a few warm season grasses can be found here and are usually Zoysia or Bermuda. Those are brown/dormant for 6 months or more out of the year. Most people don't like that.

If you can live with brown grass for 6+ months, then Buffalo is your friend.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 11:15PM
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Thanks, guys...I was hoping the newer cultivars didn't brown up in the fall and winter...wife would never go for that :)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 8:42AM
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seven -
The newer cultivars don't have as long a dormant season - not 6 months, but you aren't in an area that can have year-round green lawns are you?

Check around and see if there are any demonstration or test plots of it so you can see for yourself.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 11:12AM
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lazygardens - lawns in this area can stay green for quite a while if properly maintained and fertilized heavily in the fall. Maybe not year-round but probably 10 months or so.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 1:42PM
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OP is in PA, Buffalo grass is warm season grass. No warm season grass is going to stay green for 10 months in PA.

Seven, Kentucky Bluegrass is the best adapted grass in your climate and for your conditions. Maybe you can try Tall Fescue, but it doesn't spread to fill in damage areas like Bluegrass.

If you are not going to water during the summer and fertilize to a minimun, then go with the common type Bluegrass like Kenblue, South Dakota, etc. Those do better than the Elite types under low maintenance and no additinal irrigation.

Kenblue is one variety approved by the North Carolina Department of Transportation to be use as road grass (very low maintenance)

Click on the link below:

Here is a link that might be useful: Kentucky Bluegrass Info

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 2:39PM
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"I was hoping the newer cultivars didn't brown up in the fall and winter...wife would never go for that :)"

The newer varieties will stay green longer than the older ones, but none will stay green in the fall and winter in PA unless you don't get any frosts.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 6:44PM
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