Texas native grasses and comment on Buffalo:
Grass, turf, prep, etc.:
is the best choice for shady areas but even it needs about a half day of full sunlight to thrive. It also has problems with a fungus called brown patch or Rhizoctonia when fertilized and watered too much. The organic program is a preventive measure and the use of cornmeal on problem spots is an effective cure. St. Augustine should be planted solid sod. Spot sodding costs about as much and gives a spotty, bumpy, weedy effect for several years. There are no hardy seed available at this time. It is the most susceptible of these grasses to freeze and drought damage.
is planted by seed as well as by solid sod. It is best in full sun and requires less water and fertilizer than St. Augustine. Its flaw is its aggressiveness.
It spreads fast. Thatâ€™s good when trying to get it to grow and complete the turf, but it â€™s bad when it spreads into the beds - which it commonly does. Bermuda is durable to traffic across it.
The hybrid Bermudas are finer textured selections of the parent grass. They are sterile (produce no viable seed) and require more intense maintenance because flaws and weeds show up so much. These grasses are primarily used on golf courses and home putting greens.
is my favorite grass. It is our only native turfgrass and must be grown in full sun. It has extremely low water and fertilizer requirements and no pest problems. Winter cold and summer heat stress just donâ€™t bother this grass. The critics who love the high-nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides complain that Bermuda invades buffalograss and takes it over, making it a bad choice. Well, bermuda will take over buffalo if too much watering and fertilizing is done.
The native buffalograss is planted from unhulled seed and takes about two full growing seasons to be thick. Hulled seed is also available that will establish much more quickly. The hybrids are the best choices if budget allows. They should be planted solid sod. They include Prairie, 609, and Stampede.
Seed Bed Preparation
The seed bed preparation for turf grasses is simple. All these plants like the same amendments - organic matter and rock minerals. Although all these grasses will respond well to compost, humate, organic fertilizers, lava sand and Texas greensand, bermuda and buffalo need very little of these amendments for establishment. Use anywhere from 5-20 lbs. per 1,000 square feet of each amendment for best results. The rates are not critical. Thatâ€™s one of the nice features of the organic technique. When you plant solid sod of any kind, fill in the cracks between the solid sod pieces with compost. Donâ€™t scalp anytime, mow at whatever height you like and use the basic organic program to maintain your turf with a minimum amount of troubles.
My (tater) comment:
If you'd like to see buffalograss as turf and you live near Austin, check out the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on the south side of Austin. There's a patch growing there. I started a very small patch from seed in Lockhart and it took a couple of years to establish but then was flourishing when I moved last year. The dominant grass there was bermuda and it was so agressive I had to pick it out of my rosemary bushes where it had climbed very much like a vine . . . it was a constant and losing battle to keep it at bay.