Buffalograss: Controlling Weeds
Buffalograss has an open growth habit. It's not as dense or tightly knit like Bermuda grass, zoysia grass, tall fescue, or Kentucky bluegrass. So, more weed seeds can germinate and contaminate the buffalograss stand. This segment discusses when and how to control those weeds.
Produced by the Department of Communications at Kansas State University. For more information, visit our website at: http://www.kansasgreenyards.org
Buffalograss - Controlling Weeds
Buffalo grass is a native grass that adapted and evolved on the high plains of Kansas and Nebraska over many years, and it thrives on the Western plains of Kansas and Nebraska. Buffalo grass is a warm season perennial. That means that it turns green in May. Depending on where you are in Kansas, it could be a little earlier or later. It grows well in the summer, and then it turns brown and goes dormant in the winter. It does well under drought conditions, and that’s one reason why it thrives in the Western plains of Kansas.
Buffalo grass has an open growth habit. It’s not as dense or tightly knit like Bermuda grass, zoysia grass, tall fescue, or Kentucky bluegrass. So it has a more open growth habit that can allow more weed seeds to germinate and contaminate the buffalograss stand.
Therefore, in the western plains of Kansas the buffalograss does well because they don’t get as much rainfall as the eastern half of Kansas. The eastern half of Kansas receives more rainfall and that allows more weed seeds to germinate which can then contaminate our buffalograss stand.
Weed control in a buffalograss stand involves several things. First, it’s necessary to apply a preemergence herbicide in the springtime. This is similar to what you would do for any other lawn grass. You would apply it at the same time. However, the crabgrass preventers that you apply in March or April usually contain a fertilizer. But, in March and April, the buffalograss isn’t growing, and we don’t need to apply any fertilizer at that time. So, if you have a buffalograss lawn, and you want to control crabgrass and other annual grassy weeds with a crabgrass preventer in March and April, then you’ll need to purchase crabgrass preventers that don’t contain fertilizer.
Other weeds that can get into you buffalograss lawn are common broadleaf weeds such as dandelion, oxalis, and clover. Many of those weeds can be controlled with a three-way herbicide or a weed and feed fertilizers that contain 2-4-D, Mecoprop-p, or Dicamba.
It’s important to read the label, find out how you’re supposed to use the product, and buy and use the correct amount that’s for your size of yard.
Buffalo grass can be injured by these broadleaf herbicides – especially when the temperature gets above 85 degrees. So, it’s best to control broadleaf weeds in the spring or in the early fall, rather than in the heat of the summer.
Another common weed in buffalograss is henbit. Because of that open grown habit, henbit is a winter annual and it germinates in the fall. It grows in the winter and then sets off purple flowers in the early springtime. To control henbit you can apply a preemergent herbicide to your buffalograss lawn in September to prevent the henbit from germinating, or you can apply a broadleaf herbicide in late September to early October to kill the young henbit seedlings.
The only downside to applying a preemergent to the buffalograss lawn in September is that most stores don’t carry preemergent herbicides in September. So, you’ll need to plan ahead and purchase that product early in the spring to be prepared for September.
This feature story prepared with Rodney St. John, former Turf Specialist, Kansas State University Research and Extension, Turfgrass. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.