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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - May 08, 2013

From: Ada, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Will buffalograss thrive in Ada OK?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Would buffalo grass thrive in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, where my sandy loamie soil struggles with summer droughts?

ANSWER:

According to this USDA Plant Profile Map, Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) grows natively in Pontotoc County, OK,. which is a good sign if you are considering planting it there. First, we suggest you read our How-To Article on Native Lawns: Buffalograss. Follow the plant link above to our webpage on Buffalograss. Here are its growing conditions;

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low , Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Well-drained loam, clay, caliche, or limestone. Does not like sand.
Conditions Comments: Requires only one and a half inches of rain per month to stay green. Will go dormant during droughts and in winter."

Unfortunately, this specifically states that it does not like sand. It seems strange that the grass is native to your county but you soil does not match the preferences of the grass. There can be many different kinds of soils in a county or a state or a square block. We suggest you contact the Oklahoma State University Extension Office for Pontotoc County and ask about soil testing.

In the How-To Article to which we referred you, here is information on preparing the bed for the seeds:

"Bed preparation for buffalograss seed and sod differs little from preparation for other lawn grasses. Till the soil no deeper than two inches; rake level, and roll the soil lightly to make the bed firm. Remove all existing weeds. Because tilling often stimulates weed germination, it is advisable to water the bed one to two weeks before planting."

If you could till some other amendment, like compost, into that soil, it could help a great deal with the sandy soil. While the growing conditions say it likes a well-drained soil, the problem with sandy soil is that it drains TOO well. That sand may have been an application of so-called "topsoil" trucked in when the property was being developed and used for leveling. Your County Extension Office should be able to help you with that. In fact, when you take a soil sample, you should be digging down more than the 2 inches specified for tilling and could very well find you have some clay, caliche or limestone in there.

 

From the Image Gallery


Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

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