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Buffalo Lawn Care
Best Buffalo Lawn Grass Types....Cutting through the hype!
While all Buffalo grasses belong to the same family, each name signifies a slight different in the breeding that has occurred to develop that particular type of Buffalo. Soft Leaf Buffalo turf grasses can look very similar, each has strengths and weaknesses which can distinguish them from each other in performance and appearance.
When it comes down to it Australian's need to cut through the hype of grass company publicity and catchphrases and select the best Buffalo lawn grass or another grass type that will suit their requirements.
While there are many Buffalo turf grass types on the market today, here we will have a more in depth look at 3 of the top selling Soft Leaf Buffalo lawn grass varieties, Sapphire® Stenotaphrum secundatum ‘B12’ PBR, Palmetto® Stenotaphrum secundatum ‘SS100’ PBR and Sir Walter PBR.
Thatch is a layer of organic matter that lies underneath the top layer of the lawn. Thatch is comprised of living and dead runners, as well as a build-up of other organic material which is in the process of breaking down.
Lawns such as Buffalo can be at risk of extreme thatching, where the lawn continues to grow higher and higher above the ground. Eventually, as the lawn continues to grow and regenerate the new roots will no longer reach into the soil, they will stay in the underlying dead lawn matter, and this can result in the lawn dying off.
When choosing a Buffalo lawn grass, thatching levels are very important, a Buffalo lawn with less thatch will remain a healthier lawn for far longer. Palmetto®, Sapphire® and Sir Walter are 3 of the best Buffalo lawn types for the least amount of thatch, whilst other commercial Buffalo types do not have the low thatch of these three varieties. This is why realistically, these are the only 3 Buffalo types you should choose from.
Most Soft Leaf Buffalo grasses have good shade tolerance capabilities, and Palmetto®, Sir Walter and Sapphire® are no exception. However, if shade tolerance is of high concern, the best performing Buffalo lawn for shade tolerance is Sapphire®, which was shown in research by the DPI and Horticulture Australia to have the highest rating in the shade.
Living in Australia, drought tolerance is certainly something to be considered when purchasing turf. Soft Leaf Buffalo lawn types have a deep root system which allows them to tolerate drought conditions well. Sapphire®, Sire Walter and Palmetto® Buffalo all have excellent drought tolerance and will stay greener for longer in dry conditions.
If you have dogs or hard playing children then wear tolerance is something to think through. Kenda® Pennisetum clandestinum ‘KIK203’ PBR is one of the best performing turf varieties for tolerance in full sun, although Kenda® Kikuyu is higher maintenance and does not work well in the shade like Buffalo does. Simply put for full sun and wear from dogs, Kenda® Kikuyu is a better choice than Buffalo. Both Sapphire® and Palmetto® grass have great wear tolerance and fast recovery, with Sapphire® being the best performing Buffalo lawn in the shade for wear tolerance. However, Sir Walter has a faster leaf growth rate, which means it does repair quite fast and has excellent wear tolerance.
Sir Walter, Sapphire® and Palmetto® turf all have excellent winter colour in most parts of Australia, providing they are fertilised in April. Sapphire® Buffalo and Sir Walter have exceptional winter colour in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne, they will go dormant in colder areas such as Canberra, but will still hold better winter colour than most other varieties. On average Palmetto® Buffalo had 75.5% better winter colour than other Buffalo grass types in past research in heavy frost. In very cold regions Palmetto® Buffalo is less likely to suffer winter kill. However, if green in winter is the number one priority, and you don't mind mowing, Kenda® Kikuyu has the greenest winter colour of all warm season turf grasses.
Grass seeds can be a real nuisance, with thick stalks, they can be ugly and uncomfortable to walk on barefoot. Different Buffalo grass types seed at different levels. Palmetto® and Sapphire® Buffalo are two of the best Buffalo lawn grasses when it comes to the least amount of seed head, but all Buffalo varieties generally have far lower seeding levels than other turf varieties, such as Couch.
Most Soft Leaf Buffalo types require less mowing than Couch and Kikuyu. Palmetto® Buffalo grass needs less mowing than other rapidly upward growing Buffalos. Palmetto® turf grows across the ground at a reasonably fast rate, but its leaf growth is less than most other Buffalo grass varieties. As with Palmetto® Buffalo, Sapphire® turf also has rapid growth across the ground which allows it to cope well with high traffic, but only requires mowing every 5-10 days in the hotter months and every 3-6 weeks in colder months. Sir Walter has a faster leaf growth rate than some other Buffalo varieties which allows for it's faster than average recovery rate in high traffic areas, although this does mean that it may require more mowing than other Buffalo varieties. All Buffalo grass varieties need to be fed to remain healthy, it is advised to use a complete slow release fertiliser in early April and early September, and for high wear areas a little more often. Empire™ Zoysia japonica 'SS500' PBR is the ultimate low maintenance lawn for moderate shade to full sun, even compared to Buffalo.
Buffalo in general has a rich green texture and looks very lush. Many however prefer a finer texture, and only one Buffalo type provides that. Sapphire® Buffalo actually folds its leaf when mature giving the appearance of a beautiful fine textured Buffalo lawn.
All things considered; Palmetto®, Sapphire® and Sir Walter Buffalo are 3 outstanding Buffalo lawn grasses and 3 of the best varieties available today, each of which having their own strengths. Palmetto® turf has outstanding winter colour, good shade tolerance, low thatch, low seeding levels and is one of the lowest maintenance Buffalo grasses available. Sapphire® turf is the number one Buffalo lawn grass for shade tolerance, excellent wear tolerance, a beautiful fine texture and is as low maintenance as Palmetto® Buffalo, and Sir Walter has good shade and sun tolerance, good drought tolerance and due to its faster growth rate has great wear tolerance. Between these 3 Buffalo grasses anyone should be able to get a high quality Buffalo lawn to suit their needs.
But is Buffalo always the best choice? It is always a great choice, but in sun and high wear from dogs in all except Queensland, perhaps Kenda® Kikuyu is a better choice. In sun to moderate shade, for ultimate low maintenance, perhaps Zoysia is best. But for all other situations Buffalo still reigns supreme as a home lawn.