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Mr. Smarty Plants - Mowing the multi-species buffalo grass lawn

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Thursday - June 23, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Turf
Title: Mowing the multi-species buffalo grass lawn
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I am planning on putting in a buffalo grass lawn in an area that is little used. I read that a mix of buffalo, blue grama, and curly mesquite is good for better cover but I am concerned about the blue grama growing to a foot tall. A primary reason for the buffalo turf is so little mowing is required to keep a short lawn. Should I eliminate the blue grama in the mix or would the lawn do better with it but just mow a bit more?

ANSWER:

That's a great plan!

The multi-species buffalo grass mix lawn is one of the Wildflower Center's favored lawn approaches.  There has been quite a bit of funded research aimed at this and this article summarizes both the findings of that research and our recommendations for lawn care.  The short version of the result is: "We have found that a mix of Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss), Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) and Hilaria belangeri (curly-mesquite) needs less mowing, watering and weeding and simulates nature's shortgrass prairies. Although different species, these grasses have almost identically shaped leaves and color and produce a great-looking, even-textured, dense lawn".

You don't have to worry too much about the fact that the Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama) can reach a foot, that's just it's flower spike. It will survive well at the shorter lengths of the other two.  Of course, it depends a bit on what you call "a short lawn".  The recommendation in the article is "a 3-4" high cut for a great-looking, dense turf, resistant to foot traffic (within reason) and weeds. Mow once every 3-5 weeks".  I (personally) am happy to let it go even higher, conserve some water and have to mow even less in these temperatures! 

 

From the Image Gallery


Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

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