Buffalo Grass Lawns

Buffalo Grass is native to North American prairies and plains – it was a primary food source for the American buffalo and the only native grass species widely used in lawns. A tough warm season grass that is well suited for lawns in semiarid climates – it’s a very heat and drought-tolerant species. A sod-forming turfgrass that spreads by above-ground runners called stolons – the early settlers used the sod to build their homes.

Buffalo grass is best used in low-maintenance areas that are not irrigated and it is a good choice for native landscapes. It grows best in full sun and is adapted to a wide range of soils.


  • Native to North America
  • Warm-season perennial grass
  • Spreads by stolons and seed
  • Fine-textured leaves
  • Grayish-green color
  • Adapted to semiarid climates
  • Low maintenance lawn grass
  • Good choice for lawns that are not irrigated
  • Plant in full-sun not shade tolerant

Buffalo Grass Establishment and Maintenance

Planting: A very good choice for xeriscape and native landscapes that conserve water. It can be planted by seeding, plugging, sprigging or sodding. The best time to plant is in the spring or early summer – giving the grass time to develop a strong root system before winter.

Improved cultivars that make nice lawns include: Bison, Bowie, Cody, Plains and Top Gun.

Maintenance: Very low maintenance – buffalo grass grows just fine with little mowing, watering or fertilizing.

Mowing: It can be mowed from 1 ½ to 4 inches tall – depending on the level of maintenance desired. When used in lawns – short frequent mowings will give you a better-looking turfgrass. On no-mow sites – it will not grow much longer than 3-6 inches. It is not necessary to remove clippings…mulch them instead.

On lawns – buffalo grass should be mowed weekly in the 1 ½ to 3-inch range. In low-maintenance areas – it can be mowed monthly at 3 to 4 inches. When used on no-mow sites – it should be mowed once a year in the spring to remove old top growth.

Watering: Buffalo grass will go dormant to avoid drought stress during dry periods but will continue growing after it rains. Watering will prevent it from going dormant and losing color. A deep soaking once a week during dry periods will be plenty – over-watering will encourage weed invasion and disease development.

Fertilizing: Too much fertilizer will also encourage weed invasion. Use a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer and apply ½ to 2 lb N/1000ft2 per year in 1 to 2 applications.

Start fertilizing in June – after it is actively growing – and make a second application in late July or August. As with all warm-season grasses – avoid adding nitrogen fertilizers in the fall – late fertilizing will prevent the grass from naturally hardening off in preparation for winter.

Get a Smart Lawn Plan and everything you need to maintain a healthy Buffalo grass lawn will be sent to you. 

buffalo grass -- Use on low maintenance or no mow sites. Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS
Use on low maintenance or no mow sites.
Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS
Buffalograss spreads by stolons
Buffalograss spreads by stolons
Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS
Xzoysia grass growing range
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Hitchcock, A.S. (rev. A. Chase). 1950. Manual of the grasses of the United States. USDA Miscellaneous Publication No. 200. Washington, DC.

Other Types of Lawn Grasses:

Bermuda Grass Lawn Care, Types, Planting and Maintenance

What is Bermuda grass? Hybrid vs. Common, uses and the best types for home lawns. How to plant and care for a Bermudagrass lawn. Helpful DIY tips and advice for planting and growing grass.

Zoysia Grass

Is Zoysia grass perfect for home lawns? It’s beautiful when properly maintained. If you are lucky enough to live in a climate suitable for growing warm-season grasses, zoysia might be the best choice.

St. Augustine Grass | Grass Types for Home Lawns

With a little care and when planted in the right area St. Augustine Grass makes a very dense lawn that feels great under bare feet.

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