Planting Buffalo Grass...any advice?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Let it Grow, Jul 23, 2003.

  1. Let it Grow

    Let it Grow LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 476

    The customer has decided to plant buffalo grass on this hillside. This will be my first time planting this grass...any advice, suggestions?
    This is the same hill that I had in my earlier post asking about vinca.
    Thanks tons for your help!

    hillside1.jpg
     
  2. TheMom

    TheMom LawnSite Member
    Posts: 66

    If you haven't yet purchased your buffalo grass seed, IMHO this is the place to get it. Check out their website and request their catalog -- very informative and you can call Dave with any question.

    Last summer I planted part of our front yard with Cody buffalo grass, and learned two things:

    1. After you've killed the existing vegetation, DON'T till the soil. Every weed seed that had lain dormant was brought to the surface, sprouted and flourished!

    2. Follow Stock's suggestion and use Plateau(R) for weed control. It's a little pricey ($95/qt) but it works.

    Stock Seed advises that your buffalo grass won't look worth a hoot until the second year, so be patient.

    Have fun!
     
  3. Let it Grow

    Let it Grow LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 476

    How can I be sure that I get the seeds to the right depth if I don't till the soil?
    I was also thinking of buying already grown buffalo grass, then I wouldn't have to till either, but I'm not sure if I can get it around here.
    Thanks for the help!
     
  4. TheMom

    TheMom LawnSite Member
    Posts: 66

    Two of the ways you could get your buffalo grass seed to the depth you want are:

    1. Aerate first (I would think spike would be OK, core might be too deep depending on how hard the ground is).

    2. Use a seed drill.

    On that slope, either will be tricky. Or you could get some old golf shoes and tromp up and down while you hand-broadcast the seed. ;-)

    I'm not familiar with "already grown buffalo grass" to be installed... do you mean sod? Dunno if that would work too well, but Dave could tell you. Please let us know if buff sod is used anywhere. It sure would cut down the development period.
     
  5. Let it Grow

    Let it Grow LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 476

    I can get buffalo grass in plugs about 4-6 inches high that I would have to plant every 12". It would take 1 plug for every sq. ft. so I'd be looking at 7800 plugs, which would be super expensive so we may have to go with seed. I think the plugs are way to go because, like you said, it would be hard to get seed to the right depth, but I can get the seed for about $400.
    The customer also wants us to install an irrigation system. I will actually be just adding on to the current one. This is what I'm thinking (any help/advice would be great!)
    Step 1: till the soil
    Step 2: lay the irrigation pipe
    Step 3: install sprinkler heads
    Step 4: plant plugs

    If the customer wants to go with seed instead, then I'll have to plant before I install the sprinkler heads. Thanks for all the help!
     
  6. TheMom

    TheMom LawnSite Member
    Posts: 66

    Well... till if you must, but be prepared for the weeds with Plateau. Whatever you treat with for weeds, be sure it won't also kill your new buffalo grass. Most targeted herbicides will include prairie grasses since that market isn't yet large enough to make preserving them cost effective for the big chemical companies. Plateau is the only one specifically concocted to advance prairie grasses. There are a couple of others you could use but they don't work quite as well.

    Wow, I bet buffalo grass plugs ARE expensive. The seed is dear enough! Also, it wouldn't seem to be all that hard to get the seed at the right depth, especially if you're going to till anyhow. You could just till, seed and roll as usual. But if you seed, don't use any mulch since prairie grasses need light to germinate. That's why weed control is such an issue -- weeds grow faster and shade out new grass.

    Is your customer going with buff because of its drought resistance or because it wouldn't have to be mowed much?
     
  7. Let it Grow

    Let it Grow LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 476

    Both! She wants something that is low maitenance. I personally would like to put some blue rug juniper in the lot, but I've gotta plant what she wants!!!

    How can I do this without tilling???
    I know that there will be a lot of weeds, there are a lot of weed seeds just sitting on top of the ground right now, but I don't see any other way that I can get this stuff to the right depth.
    If I till it, then I can just use a broadcast or drop seeder, and a roller...right?
    Thanks for the advice!
     
  8. TheMom

    TheMom LawnSite Member
    Posts: 66

    The best way for you to get a good handle on methodology is to go to the Stock Seeds website mentioned above. Order their catalog, which has a step-by-step roadmap of how to plant buffalo grass. Make modifications to fit your situation, staying true to the underlying principles.

    Or call them. They're in central Nebraska. And they're always glad to help people who want to learn more about prairie grasses.

    If the soil is not hardpack clay such as we have here in certain parts of SC, one way to avoid tilling would be to aerate, then follow immediately with a drop seeder, following that with a roller. But no mulch.

    As for the proper depth, you should be able to regulate the holes made by an aerator.
     
  9. Grassmechanic

    Grassmechanic LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,697

    Hmmmm. Just a thought. If you have access to seed, why don't you grow your own plugs in sterilized soil, then transplant to the hill. I know this may be a bit time consuming and the customer wants it done now, but it may be worth exploring in this case.
     
  10. TheMom

    TheMom LawnSite Member
    Posts: 66

    Mike, you may very well be a genius.
     

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