Texas Tech University
The Buffalo Reconfigured
As any homeowner can attest, yards are hard work. During the hottest and driest months of summer, many people spend hours each weekend tending their lawns and – especially in the arid Southwest – watching thirsty grass suck down gallons of water.
Other options are often costly and visually unappealing. But Texas Tech University, partnering with Abernathy-based Frontier Hybrids, has created an alternative that allows homeowners to cut their mowing, weeding and water bills while maintaining a lush green lawn.
And those benefits are just a few offered by Turffalo, a unique turfgrass that provides the rich color and thick texture prized in bermuda or fescue lawns while maintaining the resilience of buffalograss.
The heat-resistant and drought-tolerant hybrid buffalograss developed by Texas Tech’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences could be a boon to owners of thirsty yards in places where scarce water supplies have increasingly led to tightened water use.
“If you are short on water and short on time, you need buffalograss,” says Dick Auld, chairman of the Department of Plant and Soil Science at Texas Tech. “Turffalo is a great way to get that.”
Turffalo requires as little as a quarter of the water demanded by bermuda and fescue grasses, says Dan Ryan, owner of Frontier Hybrids. It can survive on 10 inches of water a year and needs around two inches per month to stay green. The grass could prove attractive in regions where thinning water supplies have prompted cities to shave consumption.
“Turffalo has two benefits,” says Mark Ivey, owner of Ivey Gardens in Lubbock, who planted the grass in his own yard last August. “It has the toughness of buffalograss and the beauty of other lawn grasses. I don’t know of another grass in the world that is as tough and as pretty as Turffalo.”
The grass, created after 15 years of research, has the thickness and true green color of fescue and bermuda lawn grasses and holds up even under heavy traffic. Since it grows to only about three inches in height, it needs less mowing and it is tolerant to most insects and certain herbicides.
In both 2003 and 2004, the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program ranked Turffalo as the top buffalograss in overall quality in the Southwest region. The grass was rated based on its color, leaf texture, density, uniformity and stress toleration.
“Turffalo is unique in the United States,” Ryan says. “It’s probably the first new turfgrass that has come along in the last 25 years. There have been different varieties of existing grasses, but they are all very similar and this is the first real breakthrough as far as a warm-season grass goes.”
At the moment, Frontier Hybrids distributes Turffalo through dealers across Texas, New Mexico and California. The company is also marketing in Kansas and Oklahoma. However, those interested in having Turffalo delivered to their home can order the grass at www.turffalo.com or by calling Frontier Hybrids at 800-872-0522.