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Mr. Smarty Plants - Replacing bermudagrass with buffalograss in San Antonio

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Wednesday - October 28, 2009

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Replacing bermudagrass with buffalograss in San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We inherited a back yard full of weeds when we bought a fixer-upper a couple of years back in San Antonio, TX. Since we moved in, some "native" bermuda started growing in the yard. I think the "native" burmuda came from seeds blowing over to our yard from our neighbor's yard. Last year my husband decided to buy some tiff bermuda to see how that would work out. We have a very sunny back yard. There is only a little shade from a small Red Oak we planted. Unfortunately we put in sod right before the drought and it is not looking too healthy right now. I think it will come back but I was wondering if I could seed a native grass like "buffalo" (I was thinking about the 4" variety, to limit the need for mowing) in the same lawn. If I did this would the buffalo win out or am I stuck with bermuda? I personally have never liked the invasive nature of bermuda. But since bermuda is what was starting to grow in the lawn my husband thought that tiff would be a good choice. We have a vegetable garden and are planning for paths & flower, rock and mulch beds in the yard. I do not wish to spend the rest of my life pulling bermuda out of all my beds. Please help???

ANSWER:

Let us refer you to our How-To Article Native Lawns: Buffalograss which will give you a lot of information on planting and using  Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss), as well as soil preparation and removal of previous lawn grasses. Bermudagrass, besides being non-native, is extremely invasive and very difficult to get rid of. Since buffalograss seed planted now would not germinate until the warmer weather of Spring anyway, we would suggest you spent the cooler Fall and Winter weather to prepare your site. A couple of things we want to emphasize about buffalograss: It does not compete well when it is first coming up, and you will need to be vigilant about  weeding. While it needs watering when it is newly planted, once it is established it hardly needs to be watered at all. It might turn brown during a long dry period, but it will come back with cooler, wetter weather. If you water it too much, you will encourage the weeds, including the bermudagrass, that DO need watering. Another thing you need to be aware of is that buffalograss must have full sun, which we consider to be six or more hours a day of sun. 

We do sympathize with your desire to not pull bermudagrass out of your beds for the rest of your life, but you will have to stay after it. It has become an invasive weed, especially in the South, and is propagated both by seeds and by underground rhizomes as well as aboveground stolons. Please stay after it, you will be glad you did.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua dactyloides

 

 

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