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Buffalo grass has come to our attention in recent years during our search for low water needy lawns. In this regard, warm season grasses that grow with underground stolons have proven to meet our low watering needs. However, since all warm season grasses go dormant from late fall through winter, the rich summer green upper foliage of this grass is often removed with the last mowing of fall.

The 'UC Verde' selection of buffalo grass has been hybridized in recent years to keep a low growth habit, 5-6 inches high, and to maintain its green foliage character throughout the winter. The key to having a green Buffalo grass lawn in the winter is to avoid mowing it in the fall and removing the green grass tips. This strategy results in a pleasing green winter lawn. As can be seen in the images of this grass, good success can be achieved with this management choice. Otherwise, a late fall mowing that cuts the grass to 3-4 inches will expose pale colored stems that will be visible and persist through late spring. The new growing season of this grass begins in April when warm weather returns; its most vigorous growth cycle is July through September. Come and see a test plot of this grass at the Chino Basin Water Conservation District's Water Wise Demonstration Garden.

Water Needs

Buffalo grass is a warm season grass that is well suited to sunny garden locations on well drained soils and with low amounts of supplemental water during winter and summer. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water. When grown as a lawn, the supplemental watering schedule set to the high range of this chart will result in more vigorous growth during the summer months.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 2

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"-14"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Grass
Foliage Character: Winter deciduous
Habit: Spreading
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 3 in. - 6 in.
Water Needs: Low 2
Foliage Color: Bright green
Flower Color: Insignificant
Flower Season: Insignificant
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Loam, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: All day sun
Function: Residential spaces, Mass planting, Small spaces, Lawn


Plant from seed (Buffalo Grass species, but not UC Verde cultivar) or plugs, best in spring. Let it grow to its natural height of 5-7" or mow to 3/4" as needed. Goes dormant in winter and turns gold / brown. It greens back up in the spring (D).



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