Archive for the ‘Tips & Advice’ Category

We had an email come our way from a customer who was concerned about the “barbed shaped extensions” coming out of the California Buffalograss plugs he had installed 4 weeks prior. He thought they were most likely weeds, but wanted to double check before he yanked them out. So, just in case the same thought may have crossed your mind – worry not! These are actually runners that the grass sends out in order to spread itself. The runners root into the ground as they go and from that more grass will grow!

Check out this old sample flat we used for a demonstration that’s been sitting in the greenhouse – it’s runners are trying to find a place to root! 

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The other day we had some contact us asking if California Buffalograss would work well in a septic leach field and to be honest I had to google what the heck a septic leach field even was – I’m still not quite sure I understand… So I forwarded this question on to Wayne at Todd Valley Farms – the ‘OG’ on California Buffalograss – and he replied that it was a-ok! He responded that septic systems would not be a problem and he’s in fact done several similar installations. He said that California Buffalograss’s roots are very fine, not like a tree root, and when they get to the saturated area they will grow quickly.

So just in case any of you were wondering about septic leach fields, you’re good to go!

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Is your California Buffalograss lawn coming out of dormancy and looking a bit shabby? Maybe a quick mowing is in order to knock off the old and bring out the new!

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Niko sunbathing at work – our California Buffalograss is coming out of dormancy woo hoo!

Remember when I posted awhile back wondering about the effects of dog pee on California Buffalograss (hey, just because we grow it doesn’t mean we run dog urine trials on it!)? Well I got a response from Will – a California Buffalograss and dog owner:

“We have California Buffalograss in our backyard with a full time dog and dog pee will definitely kill/make the pee areas yellow. We water it 2x a day so it waters it down pretty well but there are two spots in my yard that were definitely killed by the dog’s pee. It might be water wise but it doesn’t know what to do with pee.”

So there it is folks…the dirty low down on dog pee. Just like most grasses, California Buffalograss isn’t feeling it either.

Oh well, I guess you can’t win them all…

***Update y’all! We recently had someone inform us on our facebook page that she really doesn’t have an issue with burn spots from her dog – who happens to be 75lbs – so I imagine it has a decent amount of pee! Maybe it all depends on the size of your lawn and the number of dogs you have…perhaps smaller yards get “hit” more often in the same spot than larger yards do? Well, it looks like the results are back to being inconclusive for now!***

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We’ve yet to hear a complaint about dog pee on California Buffalograss. My brother has a small patch of California Buffalograss in his back yard that doesn’t seem to get affected, but i think since it’s such a small patch, it only gets peed on about once a day or so. So I’m not sure how accurate of a representation of dog urine on California Buffalograss, it would be.

Not too long ago, someone called wondering specifically how female dog urine affected the grass – I guess girl’s have stronger pee???

Do any of you out there have first-hand experience on how dog urine has affected or not affected your California Buffalograss lawn?

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Weeds and UC Verde?

We recently got an email from a California Buffalograss-er regarding what to do with weeds in your California Buffalograss lawn:

…I planted buffalo plugs in the spring ’10.  I’ve had some setbacks with weeds.  I’ve mowed but have read that mowing should stop before the onset of winter.  I’ve been planning to use roundup in winter during dormancy.  I live in the Central Valley and wonder if I can be assured that the grass would go dormant enough to apply the roundup. Also, can pre-emergent herbicides also be applied at other times?

Thank you, Eric

Here is what we suggested: Depending on the weed types most should go dormant during the winter months and those that don’t can be spot sprayed with Roundup, though you might do that now as Roundup is not as effective when the temps get colder. When the temps get colder you can use a contact weed killer. Prior to spring put down your pre-emergent to prevent as much weed seeds from germinating and continue to spot treat. Fertilize the grass and monitor the weeds as best you can. Once the California Buffalograss can get established you can hold back the water and this should discourage any more weed seeds from germinating in your lawn.

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Last week the weather was in the 90’s and this week it’s in the low 70’s – go figure – that’s Fresno for ya! At least I got to wear my new – lower cost Costco version of Ugg boots!

With the cooler weather rolling in, it reminds me that it’s about that time of the year again for California Buffalograss to go dormant. In a few weeks most lawns will begin to lose their coloring with the decrease in daylight. Some of you lucky people in Socal who don’t experience much of a winter may not lose your green coloring or only see a slight yellowing of your California Buffalograss lawn. But alas for most of us we have to go through the cold gloominess of winter.

While California Buffalograss is in its dormancy period (for most of us that is from November to February/March) you do not have to water or mow it. It will just sit there frozen in time, waiting for the sun to come out again before it starts growing.

If you’re not a fan of having a yellow lawn, you can easily apply a grass colorant to “fake the green” until spring. We recommend Green Lawnger from Gemplers.com. It’s super easy to do, inexpensive and for us it lasted all winter until the green came back into the grass! You’ll probably want to play around with the ratios in an inconspicuous area until you can get your mix just right. Check out the user reviews for some tips. One user adds yellow food coloring to lime up the coloring a bit!

We played around with the ratio of Green Lawnger to water, to find a blend we were happy with! The last test square is fully concentrated undiluted Green Lawnger – just to see what it did…needless to say, it’s not the most natural look!

When have you noticed that your California Buffalograss lawn began to lose it’s color and how have you handled it?

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There seems to be some confusion that there is only one kind of Buffalograss or that all types are the same. Actually, this is not the case at all. There various varities of Buffalograss out there and each one is different from the next. Some are seeded some are not, their height varies, growing conditions differ. Here’s a little bit of information on the topic:

Types of Buffalograss

Buffalo grass is native North American turf grass. Originally a native grass on plains and prairies, buffalo grass is named after American bison that fed on its gray-green foliage. Long used for livestock forage and rural turf, buffalo grass is gaining popularity as low-water, low-maintenance lawnscaping. Buffalo grass needs minimal fertilization and is pest resistant. New lawn varieties offer dense, green grass and xeriscape qualities.

California Buffalograss

California Buffalograss, developed by the University of California at Davis and University of California at Riverside, is specifically bred for California landscaping. California Buffalograss is fine-bladed, has no seed heads and is medium green in color. This slow-growing variety matures at a height 4 to 6 inches. Recommended mow height is 2 to 3 inches. Like other new cultivars, California Buffalograss can be left unmowed for a short meadow grass look.


Legacy buffalo grass, developed by the University of Nebraska, is a dense-growing grass with a dark blue-green color. This grass is planted by sod or plugs. Legacy has no pollen or seed heads, making it a good choice for people and pets with pollen allergies. Legacy tolerates shade better than most buffalo grasses, though it will not grow as rapidly in shade as in sun. Maturing at a height of 3 to 5 inches, this variety is unmowed for a soft landscape appearance or is mowed every two to three weeks in growing season.


Prairie buffalo grass, developed at Texas A&M University, is a medium density grass with an apple green color. Planted by sod or plugs, this fine-bladed grass has no pollen or seed heads. This cultivar is grown in full sun with little watering and fertilizing. Prairie performs well in clay soils and matures at a height 4 to 6 inches. Remove no more than a third of the height when mowing to maintain root activity.


Stampede is a semi-dwarf and dense buffalo grass with a kelly green color. This buffalo grass has a finer, shorter leaf blade than most buffalo grasses. Maturing at a height of 4 inches, Stampede spreads quickly and requires minimal mowing. Drought-tolerant and disease-resistant, the buffalo grass is green in summer and golden in winter.

Other Buffalo Grasses

Depending on the cultivar, buffalo grass is planted with traditional seeds, sod and grass plugs. Some cultivars such as Bison, Cody and Texoka grow from seed burs while others like Legacy, Prairie and Stampede grow by vegetative stems called stolens. Seeded varieties are often taller and produce seed heads. Vegetative varieties are preferred for fast growth and allergy sufferers. Check with regional cooperative extensions on specific buffalo grass cultivars suited to the local climate.

We carry California Buffalograss and find it to be a good fit for the west coast!

(Types of Buffalograss from Gardenguides.com)

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Read about a homeowner’s experience with buffalograss he planted in spring of 2008 in San Diego County! http://www.ucverdebuffalograss.com/jim_kulkhen.pdf

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Like most plants, California Buffalograss will go through changes during the winter months.  Vertical growth will cease or slow down eliminating any need to mow or water.  Horizontal stolon growth will also slow or stop, so its ability to fill in open areas at this time will be limited.  Winter color will vary by geographic location.

For coastal California, California Buffalograss will begin to take on subtle change to a tan color mixed in with green. This will occur in December, after the onset of shorter day light hours and colder temperatures as plants go into a semi-dormant phase or winter rest. The colder it is, the more tan to straw color the surface foliage will become.

For inland areas where winter temperatures consistently drop into the 20’s, there may be complete color change and dormant phase until the temperatures begin to rise again.  These winter changes generally last about 60 to 90 days.

The duration of this color change may be reduced by combining a late fall fertilization with mowing California Buffalograss to to about 1 inch height when you begin to see the change in color.  This will allow the sun to keep the soil warmer reducing these changes.  In the late winter, repeat the fertilization to encourage the grass to begin growing again.  If you want to have your lawn totally green during the winter months, an organic based turf colorant can be applied.

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