Buffalo Grass vs Bermuda Grass: Their Difference Explained

Last Updated on April 8, 2023 by Mattias

Buffalo and bermudagrass are both desirable grass varieties but it can be hard to choose between them. When it comes to general appearance, they can’t be any more different than each other but there are plenty of other things that differentiate them as well. Both choices are practical and they surely make up for a desirable lawn but if you are not certain about their comparison then keep reading this article.

Let’s find out the comparison between buffalo grass vs Bermuda grass and help you choose the right one for your lawn.

Buffalo Grass VS Bermuda Grass

The main difference between buffalo grass and bermudagrass is their features and characteristics. Where buffalo grass has soft leaves that establish a lush turf, bermuda makes up for a coarse-textured house lawn. Unlike bermuda, buffalo grass is not a hardy variety and is highly vulnerable to weeds and frequent use. However, buffalo grass’s shade tolerance, cold tolerance, and heat tolerance are much more efficient than bermudagrass. 

Both buffalo and bermudagrass are types of warm-season grasses. Where buffalo grass is a native grass to North America, bermuda originates from tropical Africa. These two types of grasses are different in so many ways, and yet it can be hard to choose between them. They bring benefit able properties to your lawn, but before making your decision, you should analyze which would suit your site conditions and location the most.

If the above-listed explanation didn’t make a choice easy for you, then look below at the detailed comparison and learn all you need to know.

Comparison – Buffalo Grass vs Bermuda Grass


Buffalo grass (Bouteloua dactyloides) is a soft-textured grass that has a gentle blue-green color. Its leaves are curled around the edges and they often drape over themselves to appear shorter. Generally speaking, the grass itself has a silky, gentle, and fine texture. If you want a grass variety with tall blades then buffalo grass is a good choice for you. Its leaf blades can be kept at 2 inches under normal circumstances and 4 inches under shade. 

Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) on the other hand has a thick and coarse texture that carpets your entire lawn. its blades are rough and broad and have a dark green color that particularly vibrates in warm weather. Initially, the grass grows vertically but then it merges with other clumps and makes a dense turf.

Unlike buffalo grass which can be kept at a height of 4 inches, It is preferable to keep bermuda grass at a lower growing height of 1 – 1.5 inches for better maintenance. It spreads through underground stems (rhizomes) and above-ground stems (stolons). Its seed heads will resemble bird feet and there’ll be small hairs on the leaf sheaths. 

Best Uses 

Buffalo is a costly grass that can be expensive to pursue. Since this grass isn’t appreciative of heavy traffic, it shouldn’t be planted in areas where frequent use isn’t predicted. However, it will be a viable option in areas with extreme heat and prolonged high temperatures.

You can even plant it in a shady area and it’ll grow easily. If your lawn is on a site where full sun is exposed and the direct sunlight is too sharp for any other grass to tolerate then buffalo grass can be used there as well.

This grass is not only tolerant to cold temperatures but it has exemplary heat and drought tolerance as well. Rather than going into a state of dormancy like other warm-season grasses, buffalo grass holds its ground exceptionally. It retains its color during cold, summer months, and drought conditions and keeps your lawn lush green even under harsh conditions.

Furthermore, buffalo grass doesn’t need much fertilizers and water to thrive which means that you can plant it on a lawn where little maintenance is expected. Despite being a warm-season variety, buffalo grass can be planted in cold regions where temperatures fall back to freezing temperatures. This grass is most suitable for low-traffic lawns because as mentioned above if there’s one thing this grass doesn’t like, it’s heavy foot traffic.

Bermuda grass is one of the most desirable lawn grasses and its toughness makes it a great option for various scenarios. As you must know, bermuda is generally known as a hardy grass variety that is adaptable to a variety of soil types and diversity of site conditions.

Despite that, bermuda is best suited for regions with long periods of hot weather and short winter months. Unlike buffalo grass, your bermuda cannot tolerate cold at any cost, and it becomes extremely weak during this time.

The grass completely stops growing, goes into dormancy, and turns brown due to preservation. This is an unsightly appearance that lawn owners often dislike. Hence, if you live in a region where cold periods are longer than summer, then bermuda grass may not be a good idea to go with.

Bermuda grass also needs more nutrients than buffalo grass, and it only thrives if adequate maintenance requirements are fulfilled. You can plant it if you want quick and promising results. 

On the bright side, bermudagrass has a high tolerance to foot traffic, and it performs well under frequent use. In case of damage, this grass is quick to bounce back and recover independently. 

Conclusively, bermuda is best for residential lawns, athletic fields, school yards, golf courses, and other professional fields.

Soil Type

When it comes to the appropriate soil type, buffalo grass lawns prefer poor sandy soils. As we said above, this grass doesn’t need many nutrients or fertilizers to grow properly and that property applies to its soil preference as well. Even though sandy soil is the best choice, buffalo grass can grow in loamy and silty soils as well.

The only condition for establishing buffalo grass in loamy soil is that the climate should be dry. The soil must be well-drained and low on moisture because if it stands in water for too long, various mold-like diseases can be triggered.

Other than that, buffalo grass should be planted on land where soil pH is between 6 – 7.5. The good news is that buffalo is a type of grass that performs well with alkaline soil without displaying signs of stress and discoloration.

As for Bermuda grass, it can be grown in any type of soil as long as it’s well-drained. If you make sure that your chosen soil type is nutrient-rich then bermuda grass will establish quickly and form a dense turf. The best option is sandy well-drained soil but loamy soil, clay soil, and silt soil are adequate choices as well. However, you should refrain from planting it in heavy clay.

Aside from that, the soil should be layered with organic matter and fertilizers for the best results and proper growth. 

The ideal ph range is 6-7 for Bermuda grass and it tolerates high acidity much better than buffalo grass. Where buffalo perform better with alkaline soils, bermuda will do so with acidic soil.

You can easily check the soil type and ph levels by conducting home soil tests or having a laboratory test the soil conditions for you. Remember that it is extremely important to perform tests before planting the grass. Once the results are out, you can apply suitable material and chemicals on the soil surface to adjust its levels for your preferred grass variety.

Temperature and shade

Most grasses do not like the interruption of shade and they falter when the light is blocked. Buffalo grass is pretty lenient in this situation and it can tolerate partial shade as long as 2 hours of direct sunlight is ensured. The richness of its blue-green color depends on the amount of light that is available so even though it will grow in shade, its appearance will be affected.

As for temperature, the grass starts to go dormant when the temperature falls and the first frost appears. It won’t grow during that period but it certainly wouldn’t die either. You can expect the grass to green up in early spring when the weather reaches 45 degrees Fahrenheit

The same can’t be said for a bermuda grass lawn. Shade is one of the worst enemies of bermuda grass and it can’t tolerate it at all. Your grass will become weak and its root system will turn shallow without the essential sunlight.

It will only lose the vibrant color at first but as time will pass, the entire plant will begin to die. It needs a high temperature during its growing season (late spring – early summer) and it goes dormant when temperatures fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.


Buffalo grass is a low-maintenance grass that doesn’t need much from you. Regular mowing isn’t necessary because this grass performs best if you simply let it grow tall. As we discussed above, buffalo is a type of grass that doesn’t need additional nutrients to thrive.

You don’t need to give it extra attention; resources are needed at the bare minimum. It doesn’t need much water either and will grow well without abundant fertilizers. However, if you want to apply fertilizers nonetheless, then the annual amount should be 2 pounds per 1000 square feet. 

Bermuda grass needs more maintenance than buffalo grass. In fact, mowing is one of its most important requirements. Since grass has a speedy and rapid growth rate, it can get out of hand pretty easily. If you don’t want bermuda to invade other species on your lawn or look untidy, make sure to mow it at least twice a week. As for water requirements, It is recommended to water bermuda deeply and infrequently, but we’ll get into that later. 

Bermuda grass also needs adequate nutrient fertilizers to support its growth. These can be applied in the form of fertilizers or organic manure. 


Durability refers to a grass’ ability to tolerate wear and damage. Buffalo grass, which can’t even withstand high foot traffic, has low durability, and it doesn’t perform well after damage. The grass has a smooth surface, but its recovery rates and general life span are lower than a lawn owner would prefer.

Bermuda grass is one of the toughest grass varieties, but it only has an average durability rate. It is more resistant to damage than buffalo grass, but overall, there are grass varieties with better durability. Its recovery isn’t that fast either but when grass blades die, new ones grow and fill their space so quickly that you might not even notice that the spot was previously affected.

Water requirements

Water is a main necessity for every plant. As mentioned above, buffalo grass needs well-draining soil that is low on moisture. Just because the grass doesn’t like to stand in water doesn’t mean that its roots don’t like a good soak.

You should give buffalo grass 0.5 inches of water each week and ensure it’s fully drained. Buffalo grass is a “water smart” variety that needs less water than any other grass. This feature makes it an easily maintainable option. 

Since bermuda doesn’t like short and frequent watering sessions, the best way to water is by dividing 1.5 inches into 2 halves and watering the lawn twice per week. You can use your preferred watering medium to give the grass 0.75 inches of water. Bermuda’s watering needs can be considered above average; sometimes, it can absorb more water than it needs.

Common pests and diseases 

Pests and diseases can eat up your lawn from within and affect its growth on a huge level. The trick is to prevent them rather than solve them. Here’s a list of some of the most common pests and diseases in buffalo grass and bermuda grass. You can get rid of them by using appropriate herbicides and ensuring proper lawn care.

Buffalo grassBermuda grass
Mold Mold 
Mildew Mildew 
Moss and algae Moss 
Webworms Thrips 
grubsChinch bugs 

Buffalo Grass VS Bermuda Grass Summary

If you are thinking of starting a new lawn, then choosing the right grass type is the most crucial decision. You need to vary the advantages, disadvantages, characteristics, and suitability of each variety to make sure you have the right one. This article comprehensively compared two of the most desirable yet different grass types. 

Buffalo grass and bermudagrass are warm season grasses that are extremely different from one another. We explored this subject and expanded on distinguishable features such as appearance, best uses, soil types, maintenance, durability, and other growth requirements. We hope that all of these accounts helped you decide which grass type you’d prefer for your property.

Before making a choice, make sure to remember that these grasses are suitable for different scenarios, and it’s up to you to determine which one is the right grass for you.

Thank you for reading this article. Understanding the type of grass in your lawn ensures a healthy lawn, so if you found this information helpful, then make sure to share it with your other lawn owner friends.

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