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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


Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

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