Buffalograss: Fertilizing and Mowing
Buffalograss requires less mowing, water, and fertilizing that tradition lawn grasses. Once established, it survives extreme heat, drought, and cold. This segments discusses how to fertilize and mow your buffalograss to help it thrive.
Produced by the Department of Communications at Kansas State University. For more information, visit our website at: http://www.kansasgreenyards.org
Buffalograss - Fertilizing and Mowing
Buffalo grass is a warm season grass so the best time of year to fertilize it is when it’s actively growing in June and July. Cool season grasses such as tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass are best fertilized in the fall or in the springtime – September to November and perhaps May. We don’t want to apply fertilizer to the buffalograss in the fall or spring because the buffalograss isn’t growing at that time. It will waste the fertilizer, and it won’t help the buffalograss.
Typical rates for fertilizing buffalograss will be about a pound or two of nitrogen per thousand square feet per year. Since we’re applying fertilizer in the summer, it’s recommended to use a slow release or organic based fertilizer. This will provide a controlled, long release of fertilizer over the summer. This will prevent a rapid increase of growth with a flush of color, and then the fertilizer benefits disappear over a small amount of time.
Buffalograss can be mowed several different ways. It should be mowed similar to mowing any other grass. You should follow the one-third rule, which means to never remove more than one-third of the leaf tissue at any one time when you’re mowing. For example, if you want to maintain the buffalograss at two inches in height, you shouldn’t let it grow more than three inches before mowing. If you’re maintaining your buffalograss at three inches high, you don’t want to let it grow higher than four to four and one-forth inches before you mow.
Other people who are maintaining buffalograss as a short grass prairie, they may mow it just once a year. If they mow it in the springtime, and the grass will grow about eight to ten inches tall. Then it will flop over and look like a short grass prairie for the rest of the season.
Buffalo grass is a warm season grass, so it will tolerate the summer very well. But, under drought conditions it can turn brown and go dormant similar to other grasses.
This feature story prepared with Rodney St.John, Kansas State University Research and Extension, former Turfgrass Specialist. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.