How to Identify Buffalo Grass: Guide to Buffalo Grass Identification

If you’re new to types of lawn grasses, you might struggle to identify one species from another. The truth is that there are numerous grass species – over 12,000 – worldwide. One of them is the Buffalo grass, which thrives in warm climates. But do you know how to identify buffalo grass?

Read on as we discuss how to identify this grass. You’ll also learn how to grow and care for buffalo grass to help it reach its full potential.

What Is Buffalo Grass?

Buffalo grass, also called St. Augustine or Pemba grass, is a North American warm-season grass. It grows well in warm climates, particularly in the high plains of New Mexico, USA, and Canada. It’s also a popular grass in many Australian homes.

The traditional Buffalo grass has evolved over the years, forming a more user-friendly grass. In the past, this grass had coarse and thick blades that felt rough underfoot. It also irritated some people, particularly infants.

Modern Buffalo grass varieties have been bled with softer grasses to make fine, thin blades. They feel soft underfoot and are popular with many homeowners.

Lawn enthusiasts value this grass due to its low-maintenance needs. It’s heat, drought, and cold-resistant and can tolerate shade more than most warm-season grasses. 

If your yard receives heavy traffic, you can grow Buffalo grass, thanks to its ability to recover quickly from damage.

Before planting seeds, runners, or installing buffalo turf, remember that there are different varieties of Buffalo grass. We’ll look into each variety’s unique characteristics. But first, let’s look into the grass type identification.

How To Identify Buffalo Grass

Buffalo grass features broad, thin blades which can be dark or light green. The blades roll in the bud and appear drooping and pointed. The blades might discolor slightly depending on the variety, especially in winter. However, your grass won’t turn yellow or brown in colder months unless it has health issues.

Buffalo grass is a low-growing grass with stolons spreading above the ground. The stolons are dark brown/reddish and take root at their joints. When well maintained, this grass forms a dense, carpet-like lawn.

The grass is fine-textured and feels softer underfoot. It’s also less invasive than some warm grasses like Kikuyu grass.

This grass develops a deep root system to access water in dry seasons. It’s no wonder homeowners living in hot climates and with busy schedules prefer Buffalo grass in their lawns.

Varieties of Buffalo Grass

There are several Buffalo grass varieties with varying characteristics. So when choosing the best Buffalo grass for your lawn, check the differences. The comparison table below helps you identify the most common Buffalo grass types.

Buffalo Grass TypeLeaf TextureShade ToleranceTraffic HardinessMowing Requirements
Sir WalterSoftMediumHighMedium
MatildaMedium fineExcellentExcellentMedium-high

How To Grow Buffalo Grass

There are three ways you can grow Buffalo grass on your lawn. You can plant seeds, runners or install sod. Professional landscapers advise installing Buffalo grass sod instead of planting seeds or runners.

Seeds are less expensive but rarely viable. You don’t want your grass to grow and leave patches all over your yard. Runners will not do well on bare ground and are usually suitable for planting on patchy spots on an established lawn.

The first step to growing buffalo grass sod is preparing the ground. After digging, use a rake and a roller to reduce air pockets and level the ground. Water the area to make the soil moist and ideal for the roots to establish. Lay your turf and ensure more contact between the soil and roots.

Whether you want to sow seeds, plant runners, or install sod, you must prepare the soil properly. You should test the soil to determine the drainage rate and pH. Then, add the necessary soil amendments such as fertilizers, peat moss, and compost.

When To Grow Buffalo Grass

Like other warm-season grasses, Buffalo grass will establish and thrive when planted in late spring or early summer.

Spring is the ideal time to grow Buffalo grass because the weather is warmer for the grass to establish. Your grass will have adequate time to establish before the hot summer months.

You can grow this grass in early summer, but water it as necessary to help it establish quickly.

If you don’t have access to irrigation water, grow your Buffalo grass in autumn. This season has adequate rain that ensures your grass establishes faster.

Care and Maintenance Guide for Buffalo Grass

You’ve now learned how to identify Buffalo grass. Moreover, you know how and when to plant the grass. But like other plants, you must care for your Buffalo grass to ensure it grows green and healthy.

Below are various tips for caring for and maintaining your grass.


Your newly installed Buffalo sod requires deep watering to establish and thrive. Water deeply but infrequently to keep the soil beneath your sod moist.

Once you have an established lawn, you can resort to shallow and infrequent watering. Buffalo grass develops a deep root system to draw moisture from the soil. It will, therefore, survive in dry conditions.

Caution: Avoid overwatering your Buffalo lawn to avoid fungal growth, breathing problems, and root rot.


Fertilizing your Buffalo grass is a great way to keep it robust, green, and healthy. A slow-release liquid fertilizer can be your best bet. Alternatively, you can use a spreader to apply a slow-release granular fertilizer.

After installing your Buffalo sod, apply the fertilizer once every month. Once you have an established lawn, fertilize it twice a year during April and September.


Like other lawn grasses, you should mow your Buffalo grass to keep it neat and healthy. Mow your grass once a week during the growing season and reduce the mowing frequency in winter.

You should mow your Buffalo grass about 2.5 cm to 5 cm weekly. If your grass grows in a shaded area, increase mowing height between 5 cm and 7 cm.

Aerating and Soil pH

Lawn aeration allows water, air, and nutrients to penetrate deep into the soil. As a result, the roots grow stronger and produce a vigorous lawn. If you have a garden fork, poke small holes into the soil to aerate the lawn.

Ensure the soil has a pH level of 5 to 8.5. If the pH level is too low, consider adding sulfur or lime.

Pests, Diseases, and Weeds

Buffalo grass can resist most pests and diseases. However, Army Worm and the African Black Beetle might attack your grass. You can use effective pesticides to keep these pests away.

The most common disease that affects Buffalo lawns is Brown Patch. It’s a fungal disease that affects grass growing in wet conditions. You can prevent this disease from attacking your grass by dethatching and avoiding evening watering.

Established Buffalo grass can overwhelm weeds, but if you see weeds in your lawn, try uprooting them. If more weeds are present, use a suitable herbicide to eradicate them.

Final Thoughts

The first step to growing and maintaining grass is determining the most suitable type for your lawn. If you prefer Buffalo grass, learning how to identify it from other grass species is crucial. We hope our guide has shown you how to identify Buffalo grass.

Check for broad, thin blades with a dark or light-green hue. This grass has stolons spreading above the ground and rooting at the joints. When grown and cared for properly, Buffalo grass will reach its full potential.