Water your new plugs immediately after planting, you can also dip each plug in Root Dip which will help it to retain water, also following label instructions. This will give your plugs a boost that will help insure success. Keep the area moist for the first 4-6 weeks. This usually will require watering daily for 15-20 minutes once or twice a day depending on your soil type, location etc. Once your plugs have begun to take root (if you give one a firm tug, it should resist and remain in the ground) then you can slowly reduce watering by removing a day or two. Eventually once fully established, you should be able to water twice a week for 15-20 minutes each day to keep the grass green.
The amount and frequency of irrigation really depends on several environmental and soil characteristics. It is important to remember the following:
- Although regular watering is most likely not needed during the rainy season, you may need to water occasionally.
- The need for irrigation increases with increasing temperature.
- Similarly, windy conditions may necessitate more frequent irrigation. Poorly-drained, clay-type soils require less frequent irrigation than sandy soils.
- Small plants are particularly sensitive to moisture deficits.
If you begin to notice stalled growth or browning you will need to increase your watering. Watering will depend on your natural rainfall and temperatures, as well as your soil type. Clay soil will require less water than sandy soil. Water your buffalograss to prevent stress. You can tell when the grass is stressed, because the grass blades wilt or the tips turn a purplish/brown color. If you cut off water too soon, before the grass has had a chance to establish itself, it will force the grass into an early dormancy in order to protect itself and conserve its energy.
California Buffalograss has a very deep root system reaching down 6-8 feet, and uses only about 1/2 inch of water per week once established. Once your lawn has established you can begin to slowly reduce your watering schedule, ultimately ending up at to one to two days a week depending on your area and the current weather conditions. This is just a suggestion, each area will vary depending on location and environmental factors.
*These are general guidelines. You will need to adjust your watering to match your soil type and current weather conditions. If you begin to notice some spot areas of browning, we’ve noticed a common culprit is inadequate sprinkler coverage due to low water pressure, a broken sprinkler head or clogged sprinkler heads. If you begin to notice all over discoloration try increasing your watering schedule until the grass begins to green and then slowly reducing it. And of course you can always contact us with any questions or concerns you may have!
Mowing is important during the establishment period to encourage the buffalograss to spread by putting out more runners. Once your plugs have begun to root (if you give a firm tug on your plug it should resist and stay in the ground) mow the area.
There is no set mowing height, just mow to the look you desire. You may choose to maintain your lawn at 1 inch, allow it to go un-mowed or any height in between. If left un-mowed, your grass will reach a maximum height of 4 to 6 inches and have a natural, airy appearance.
In early Spring, mow to a height of 1 inch to remove the dormant grass. This will allow the sun to hit and warm the soil, which will cause the buffalograss to green up earlier. In preparation for winter, mow to a height of 2 to 2-1/2 inches in late summer or early fall so that the sun can somewhat penetrate the ground to give your dormant lawn a bit of warmth through the winter months.
Fertilization & Weed Control
After your initial installation is complete, apply a fertilizer with pre-emergent weed control following the label directions. Scotts makes Halts Crabgrass Preventer® or Turfbuilder with Halts®. Most garden centers will have these products or similar herbicides. Repeat this application at 1/2 rate in 8 weeks. Read and follow the directions on the label for proper rates and application. Another great option for fertilization only is Milorganite fertilizer. This can be applied during any time of year no matter the outdoor temperature. It will not burn and is a natural way to help your plugs grow! Be sure to water it in well. One bag of Milorganite (32lbs) will cover approximately 2500 sq ft. If this is your initial installation use double the rate of 2 bags (64lbs) per 2500 sq feet. Fertilize up to 4 times a year, ideally in early Apri, late May, early September and early October. If you are only going to fertilize once a year, do it in the spring or summer.
The following herbicides can also be safely used on California Buffalograss lawns at anytime of the year to control most weeds. They must be RTS [Ready to Spray] formulations – the container attaches to your garden hose for quick and easy application. During warm weather, apply in the very early morning hours or late evening hours to avoid excessive heat. We do not recommend applying above 85 degrees. A second application may be needed in 10-20 days for some weeds. Available at most garden centers.
- Bayer Advanced™ All in One Lawn Weed & Crabgrass Killer Ready-To-Spray
- Ortho® Weed B Gon Max® Plus Crabgrass Control Ready-Spray®
- Spectracide® Weed Stop® For Lawns plus Crabgrass Killer CONNECT TO HOSE™
In poor soil conditions or Southern climates a third fertilizer application, without pre-emergent, may be done in mid-summer and a fourth application can be applied in early fall. Throughout the summer, Broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, clover or pigweeds can be controlled after they emerge using broadleaf weed herbicides without 2-4D or a granular weed and feed.
Caution: Never use a product which contains 2-4D when the temperatures are above 85 degrees. This will harm your buffalograss.
ALWAYS READ THE LABEL BEFORE APPLYING!
Here is a list of additional herbicides that can be used on Buffalograss:
- Certainty – controls sedges and fescue
- Dismiss – controls sedges
- Drive – pre-emergent for annual grasses
- Echelon – pre-emergent for annual grasses
- Flucarbazone – post emergent broadleaf control and cool season grasses
- Katana – post emergent broadleaf control and cool season grasses and sedges
- Plateau – pre-emergent annual grasses, post emergent annual grasses, post broadleaf and sedges
- Quicksilver – post emerged broadleaf
- Solitare – post annual grasses, broadleaves and sedges
- SquareOne – post annual grasses and broadleaves
- Xonerate – post emergent broadleaves and sedges
Most of these chemicals are available in small quantities online at places like:
*** Check to be sure the chemicals are labeled in your state ***
*** ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL INSTRUCTIONS ***
California Buffalograss does go dormant during the winter. Here in Central California that means from around November to March. 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 stolen growth will also slow or stop, so its ability to fill in open areas at this time will be limited. During this time it will lose its green color and change to a yellow-ish straw color, but it is still alive and hibernating in a sense. The duration of this color change may be reduced by combining a late fall fertilization with mowing your grass to about 1-2 inches in 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. It will return to its usual appearance around spring.
If you do not find the dormant straw color appealing, you can apply a grass colorant to make the lawn appear green. We recommend Green Lawnger; the results are quite natural, the cost is inexpensive and can last up to 13-14 weeks. We applied this to our test plot here and it held its color in full sun all through winter until the lawn came out of dormancy. Please visit our Gallery to see images of the colorant. Once spring rolls around and you begin to see the green returning to your lawn, mow the dormant layer back to allow the color to show. *Just a quick fyi: we found that you need much more colorant than the label suggests. We mixed our solution according to the suggested ratio, but we needed approximately 7 times the suggested amount of the mixed solution to cover our lawn.
We’ll show you how to apply a turf colorant so that you can conserve water and have a green lawn all year long!
In early spring, mow your buffalograss to a height of 1 inch. This will remove the old grass debris and allow the sun to warm the soil faster so your buffalograss will green up earlier. Since you are helping the ground warm earlier than normal, you will need to apply a pre-emergent or a fertilizer with crabgrass and/or annual grassy weed control at this time. Any product available at your garden center should be okay to use. Read and follow the label. Repeat this application at a ½ rate in 6-8 weeks for season long control.
Your buffalograss is actively growing at its best during the warm summer months. This is the time to fertilize. Apply your first application when the daytime temperatures are consistently in the 70’s. Always use high quality slow release fertilizer. Water immediately after applying to activate the fertilizer. Repeat application in 30-45 days. In southern climates a third treatment can be beneficial 45 days after the second. Any broad leaf weeds can be treated with a chemical application. DO NOT use any product that contains 2 4-D during the hot temperatures of the summer. This may stunt the grass but it should not cause permanent damage. Water only if additional moisture is needed. Mow to your desired height.
Fall maintenance should be minimal. Water if needed. The late fall is an excellent time to control any broadleaf weeds. During this cool weather any broadleaf weed control may be used, including 2-4D products.
In the late winter, you can repeat the fertilization process to encourage the grass to begin growing again or you can just sit back and relax until spring rolls around! It may need an occasional watering here and there if winter has been especially warm.