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.
Description. Buffalograss is a low growing, commonly only 8 to 10 inches high, warm season perennial grass. Individual leaf blades may reach 10 to 12 inches in length, but they fall over and give the turf a short appearance. Buffalograss has a stoloniferous growth habit, curly leaves, and both staminate and pistillate flowers. Staminate (male) plants have 2 to 3 flag-like, one-sided spikes on a seedstalk 4 to 6 inches high. Spikelets, usually 10, are 4 mm long in two rows on one side of the rachis.
Pistillate (female) plants appear very different from the staminate plants. Pistillate spikelets are in a short spike or head and included in the inflated sheaths of the upper leaves. The thickened rachis is woody and surrounded by the outer glumes. The glumes together with the lemma and palea form a bur-like enclosure for the mature seed.
Both male and female plants have stolons from several inches to several feet in length, internodes 2 to 3 inches long, and nodes with tufts of short leaves. Plants often take root at the node and produce new shoots. Each plant propagates vegetatively its own kind, and only rarely are both male and female flowers produced on the same plant. Commonly each kind of plant is found in patches some distance apart.
As buffalograss and curly mesquite are both low growing, stononiferous grasses with curly leaves, some difficulty may be encountered in distinguishing them. If the grasses are not in flower, they can be identified by their nodes and internodes. Nodes of buffalograss are smooth, and those of curly mesquite are villous. Also, the internodes of buffalograss are quite short (less than 3 inches) while those of curly mesquite are quite long.
The production and utilization of buffalograss is hampered by poor germination of the seed, or bur. It has been suggested that poor germination is due to the mechanical restraint imposed on the embryo by the tough enclosing outer glumes. The fact that seed extracted from the bur readily germinate is cited as evidence of inhibitor substances in the glumes that delay germination of the seed.
Adaptation and Use. Buffalograss is found throughout the Great Plains from Mexico to Montana. In Texas, buffalograss is commonly found from the south central region westward to El Paso and north to the High Plains and Rolling Plains. It favors the heavy clay soils in moderate to low rainfall areas. Buffalograss is rare in the sandy soils of east Texas and the high rainfall areas of southeast Texas.
When buffalograss is planted in high rainfall areas or when it is irrigated and fertilized, bermudagrass and other weedy grasses invade a stand of buffalograss. Buffalograss is best adapted to low rainfall areas (15 to 30 inches annually) or areas that receive thorough, but infrequent irrigation.
Buffalograss is not adapted to shaded sites or to sites that receive heavy traffic. Also, under intensive management bermudagrass and other more aggressive grasses tend to replace buffalograss in the lawn.
Roadsides, school grounds, parks, open lawn areas, golf course roughs and cemeteries are good sites for buffalograss in central, west and north Texas. Buffalograss is particularly well suited for sites to be planted to bluebonnets and other Texas wildflowers since it produces a relatively open, thin turf and requires little mowing. It is the ideal grass for those wanting a "native" landscape.
Establishment. Buffalograss can be established from seed (burs) or sod. Buffalograss established from seed develops into patches of male and female plants, with the male plants producing the seedstalks that may appear unsightly in lawns. When planting buffalograss vegetatively, female plants are generally selected since they do not produce the taller seedstalks. Prairie and 609 buffalograsses are female plant selections released by the Texas andNebraska Agricultural Experiment Stations in 1990. They produce a more dense and uniform turf than common types. Prairie and 609 buffalograsses must be established from sod or sod plugs.
When planting seed, seed treatment, seeding rate and date of seeding are important considerations. Treated seed, seed chilled at 5 to 10 degrees for 6 to 8 weeks or treated chemically to break dormancy, have a much higher germination rate (80% to 90%) than untreated seed (20%). For spring and summer plantings, treated seed should be planted.
April and May are the best months to plant treated buffalograss seeds as temperatures are favorable and moisture is generally adequate. With irrigation the planting date can be extended into July and August.
Fall plantings of untreated buffalograss seed are also successful, but maximum germination does not occur until the following spring.
Treated seed planted in May will germinate in 7 to 10 days if moisture is adequate. Without irrigation the seed will remain dormant until moisture is favorable. Seed planted in dry conditions without irrigation should be drilled inch into a well prepared seedbed. Seed broadcast on the surface may germinate when little or no subsurface moisture is present to sustain the young seedlings.
Seeding rates may range from less than 0.5 pounds of seed per 1,000 sq. ft. to 4 to 6 pounds, depending on the method of planting and the time available to obtain a cover. Seeding rates are generally much higher for broadcast seeding on the soil surface than for that drilled in rows into the seedbed. Buffalograss seed drilled in rows at 10 to 20 lbs. per acre will produce a complete cover in one growing season with favorable moisture conditions. With no irrigation, broadcast seedling rates of 1 to 2 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. may require several seasons to develop a complete cover. In contrast, broadcast seeding rates of 4 to 6 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. will cover in several months with adequate moisture.
For sites that cannot be irrigated during establishment, recommended seeding rates would be 0.5 lb. per 1,000 sq. ft. if drilled and 2 to 4 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. if broadcast. If irrigated, areas could be planted at ° the rate recommended for nonirrigated sites. All of the seeding rates are for planting treated seed in late spring and summer for lawns, golf courses or other well maintained areas of turf. Roadsides, parks and other low maintenance areas can be planted at 10 to 20 lbs. of seed per acre.
Fall plantings using untreated seed should be at rates of 2 to 4 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. of lawn or turf area. Significant germination should not be expected until the following spring or summer when moisture is favorable.
Buffalograss can be established from pieces of sod or sod plugs not less than 2 inches square. These should be planted on a well prepared seedbed in about 18-inch rows. Plants can be spaced anywhere from 6 inches to 2 feet apart, depending on how quickly a complete cover is desired. The closer they are spaced, the sooner the ground will be covered. In digging up material for planting care should be taken to keep the roots moist as the plants die very quickly when the roots get dry. When planting, dig a hole deep enough to set the plants in so that the grass is above ground level. If the pieces of sod are covered with soil, they will die. The soil should be packed around the plants. Planting is best done in moist soil or where irrigation is available. The grass should be planted in early fall, spring or early summer, when moisture is favorable. Plants should be well watered after planting and as needed for several weeks, thereafter.
Management. Buffalograss is only recommended for low maintenance, low use turfgrass areas. It does not persist where use is intensive. Consequently, only minimum maintenance practices are required to keep a buffalograss turf.
Mowing height and frequency depend on the use of the site. In lawns, buffalograss can be mowed at heights of 2 to 3 inches. At the shorter heights weekly mowing may be required to keep a buffalograss turf.
On irrigated golf course fairways, buffalograss is mowed weekly at inch. Without irrigation, it is mowed only as needed at a 1 inch height. In rough areas on golf courses, buffalograss is mowed only as needed at the heights between 2 and 3 inches.
Buffalograss does not need fertilization, but it will respond to light applications of nitrogen. Nitrogen fertilization should not exceed 2 lbs. of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. per year. If bermudagrass is undesirable in the lawn, avoid nitrogen fertilization.
With irrigation, buffalograss will remain green throughout the spring and summer. One inch of water per week is adequate to maintain a green buffalograss turf. Without irrigation, buffalograss will turn brown and dormant during the dry summer months. As with fertilization, excessive water promotes bermudagrass encroachment.
A fine textured Buffalograss primarily developed for its superior turf quality which allows for faster, easier harvesting and planting. It is ideal for residential, commercial, and industrial sites. It is extremely low maintenance. It rarely needs mowing nor fertilizer.
Eco Buffalograss is the newest Buffalograss variety from Bladerunner Farms. This grass is extremely low maintenance. Sod it and leave it alone.
Eco Buffalograss produces an attractive, tiny white flower when left to grow long.
According to Texas A&M University, 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.
Prairie is a native, fine-textured, granny smith apple green buffalograss that is adaptable to many climates. This stoloniferous grass has a natural uniform appearance and good density that produces a thick turf carpet. Prairie has a slow rate of spread and will attain a mature non-mowed height between 4-6 inches and at maturity requires infrequent supplemental irrigation to maintain quality turf. It is recommended for use as a minimal maintenance turfgrass for roadsides, industrial parks and non-irrigated landscape sites. It grows best in soils with high clay content and is not recommended for sandy soil sites. Prairie buffalograss is a female cultivar of the species Buchloe dactyloides (Mutt). Engelm., selected and developed for its turf-type characteristics. It creates a grannie smith apple green, dense, fine-textured, stoloniferous turf. It is propagated vegetatively by sod, sprigs, or plugs. Prairie buffalograss spreads faster, is more dense, and creates a more uniform higher quality turf than other commercially available buffalograss cultivars. Under normal recommended management practices, Prairie buffalograss will attain a mature non-mowed plant height between 4 and 6 inches. Its optimum mowing height ranges from 1.5 to 2 inches for highest quality turf. Mature, fully established, and properly managed Prairie buffalograss turf is competitive against weeds. Prairie buffalograss is responsive to low levels of nitrogen fertilization (1 to 3 pounds of actual N per 1,000 square feet of area will provide acceptable quality turf). Color, competitive growth habit, and mature height are dependent on the level of fertilization provided. The area of adaptation for Prairie buffalograss extends from the South Texas Plains to Nebraska, with good turf persistence reported in Kansas, Illinois, California, Georgia, and Florida. Prairie will perform best on soils with a high clay content and with a neutral to alkaline soil pH.
Intended Use: Commercial,Residential
Mowing Height: 2" - 4"
Centipede Grass is a low, medium textured, slow growing, but aggressive grass that can produce a dense, attractive, weed-free turf. It is more shade tolerant than bermudagrass but less shade tolerant than St. Augustine and zoysiagrass. Since centipede produces only surface runners, it is easily controlled around borders of flower beds and walks. Centipedegrass is native to China and southeast Asia and ranks between Bermudagrass and St. Augustine in leaf width, shoot density, and stem size.
It was first introduced into the United States in 1916 from seed collected by Frank N. Meyer in South China. Centipedegrass has since become widely grown in the southeastern United States from S. Carolina to Florida and westward along the Gulf Coast states to Texas.
Its popularity as a lawn grass stems from its adaptation to low fertility conditions and its low maintenance requirements. Where Centipedegrass is adapted and properly managed, it has few serious pest problems. It is particularly well adapted to the sandy, acid soils of the southeastern United States. Its westward movement is somewhat limited by severe iron deficiencies that develop in the alkaline soils of the arid regions. And, its northward movement is restricted by low temperatures. Centipedegrass is slightly more cold tolerant than St. Augustine grass, but extended periods of 5°F or less can kill Centipedegrass.
Centipedegrass is moderately shade tolerant, but grows best in full sunlight. It is not as salt tolerant as St. Augustine or Bermudagrass. Centipedegrass thrives on moderately acid soils, pH 5 to 6. Above pH 7.0 iron becomes a limiting factor and supplemental applications of iron may be required.
Centipedegrass does not enter a true dormant state during winter months and is severely injured by intermittent cold and warm periods during spring. Hard freezes kill the leaves and young stolons of Centipedegrasses. The grass usually recovers as soon as temperatures become favorable. Recurring cycles of cold / warm during the winter months depletes its energy reserves and is susceptible to extreme winterkill. Thus, its adaptation is limited to areas with mild winter temperatures.
Centipede is the ideal grass for the homeowner who wants a fairly attractive lawn that needs little care. Centipede does not require much fertilizer or mowing, and compared to other lawn grasses, is generally resistant to most insects and diseases. It will, however, respond to good management and provide a very attractive turf. Centipede can be established from either seeds or sprigs. Since it is slow growing, it takes longer than bermuda and St. Augustine to completely cover an area.
Cold tolerance: fair
Shade tolerance: fair/good
Rate of establishment: slow
Mowing height: medium. First mowing, do not mow Centipede close before the growing season begins.
Aeration: may be aerating any time during the growing season, except for during drought conditions. Avoid aeration during the green-up phase in early spring.
Winterization: Centipede grass does not need a late fall application of fertilizer, often referred to as a "winterization feeding."
Centipede lawns may be overseeded in the fall with a cool-season grass to create a temporary green lawn over the winter. Annual rye is a good choice.
Nematodes can be a very serious problem on centipedegrass. These are microscopic worms that attack grass roots and cause the lawn to thin and eventually die. Areas of heavy infestation will show symptoms of severe wilt, even when well watered.
Proper cultural factors to encourage centipedegrass root growth will lessen nematode stress. This includes applying less nitrogen, providing less frequent but deep watering, and ensuring ample soil potassium and phosphorus.
Fertilizing Newly Planted Centipede Sod
According to university studies, it is best to wait at least one month before fertilizing newly placed centipede sod. During that first month, there is little root development or activity. This means that the turfgrass is not actively absorbing the nutrients and it is more likely that these nutrients will migrate away from the roots and there is greater risk these elements may enter the watershed.
In mature centipedegrass lawns (3 or more years old) problem areas sometimes appear in the spring and grow worse throughout the summer. These problem areas usually develop in thatchy turf, compacted soils, drought areas or areas under other stresses. Since a specific disease organism has not been identified as the cause, the problem has been broadly named "centipede decline".
Symptoms: Centipede decline is descriptive of the problem as the grass gradually deteriorates and is replaced by weeds or other invassive grasses. The grass often greens up in early spring, but gradually turns off color, wilts and dies. These areas may initially be less than 1 foot in diameter, but by mid-summer it may expand outward to 3' — 6' in diameter. Individual areas may join together producing large irregular shaped patterns of wilted and discolored turf. These areas resemble centipedegrass suffering from drought conditions.
Examination of the turf in these areas reveals little root development. Many of the stolons, or runners, have no root attachment to the soil. Some small discolored roots may be found in the thatch, or the organic layer. The grass may be dead in the center of the discolored area with often dark green, leaves radiating into the healthy grass.
Control: Cultural practices provide the most effective means of preventing centipede decline. Mowing heights above 2" tend to promote centipede decline; while mowing heights of 1" or less at weekly intervals lessen the problem. Mowing height does not provide absolute control, but reduces the potential for centipede decline.
Application of nitrogen at rates above 2 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft. per year has been shown to increase problems with centipede decline. Ideal fertilization of centipedegrass would be 0.5 pounds nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. in April, June, August and October.
Centipede grass has a new look thanks to Covington. Unlike other centipede varieties, Covington is all green with no purple or red runners or seedheads. It is the only uniformly green centipede on the market. Covington also has outstanding fall color retention and spring greenup, helping you get the most out of this striking turfgrass. Centipede is a a low maintenance grass. Covington Centipede is a beautiful low maintenance centipede grass.
Fescue grass types are a variety of cool season grasses that are adapted to the transition zone of the USA and into Canada. The fescue grass species are easily planted with sod and include the sub species of broader leaved, bunching grasses named tall fescue and the group of finer leaved shorter fescue grass named Fine Fescue. Fine fescue grass species are creeping red, hard fescue, chewings fescue andsheep fescue. Fescue grass varieties are drought tolerant, require less fertilizer, develop a deep root system and thus are eco friendly.
Unlike the majority of cool season grasses, Fescue grasses are shade tolerant and perform well in the lower areas of the transition zone where the season is too hot for the other cool grasses and in the area of the transition zone that is too cold in the winter for the warm season grasses.
All of the fescue grass varieties share the same characteristics when planted in the areas of Fescue Grass Adaptation. The three dominant ones being shade tolerance, staying green all year, and having very good drought resistance. Fine Fescues are more cold and shade tolerant than Tall Fescue, but both are used though-out much of the Central to Northern USA states.
Fescue grass fills a large gap in the grass field created by the climate differences that are not fully defined by zone. Fine Fescues are readily used in mixtures with the Kentucky bluegrass varieties for summer northern lawns and with the warm season grasses in winter lawns. Both Fine and Tall Fescues can remain green all year long in the cooler climates. They usually will become dormant in the areas too hot during the summer or too cold in winter and will show a paler green color at these times. Fescue grass is also used in overseeding warm and cool grass lawns.
Note: Planting Tall Fescue in the colder Northern states with temps reaching below 10° can result in winter kill. Fine Fescue grass varieties are more cold tolerant. This map includes both the fine and tall fescues growing range.
Tall Fescue Grass - Types & Uses
Improved tall fescue grass varieties have been bred to offer major improvements for lawns, sports fields, pastures and more over the traditional Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue. The name "tall fescue" is misleading in that all turf type tall fescues released in the last 20 years are not tall at at all. If left un-mown tall fescue will produce seed heads of about 3' with leaves and foliage usually reaching a height of less than 20 inches.