Soft leaf buffalo lawns can be maintained on two waterings per week once they are established if they are managed correctly. There are some issues which our experience has shown to be recurring problems with the successful management of Soft leaf buffalo turf, especially when the turf is under stress during the establishment phase or coming out of winter.

Lawn Doctor Turf Farms recommend the following to ensure your lawn performs as it should:

First Cut of soft leaf buffalo

  • New lawns should be mowed as soon as the roots are down, e.g. once the lawn cannot be easily lifted. This will take about two (2) weeks in summer and up to six (6) weeks in winter.

Fertiliser for soft leaf buffalo

  • Depending on the colour after the first cut it may be necessary to apply a fertiliser such as Baileys 311, Eco Prime Emerald or Knights Special Mix, all are available from Lawn Doctor at 1 Dellamarta Rd Wangara.
  • New lawns tend to need more fertiliser in the first 12-18 months until they are fully established. Fertilise little and often; when lawn starts to lose colour and vigour. Once a lawn goes dormant in winter, it is difficult to stimulate growth and colour, so ensure your lawn is fertilised well into Autumn. Fertilise after mowing and water in well immediately.
  • Some lawns can be best treated with a foliar (liquid) spray, with the nutrients taken up through the leaves. In fact, this is the best application method for iron and manganese and is an effective way of giving your lawn some colour if the roots have gone dormant in winter due to inadequate nutrient levels.

WARNING: Any liquid or granular fertiliser containing iron will stain paving if not cleaned off straight away. Also beware of “walking it off” the treated areas, so granules should be applied to a dry lawn and when spraying, start on the far side of the lawn and work your way towards the exit point.

Soft Leaf Buffalo Seed Heads

  • A common problem with new lawns in late spring and early summer is the production of seed heads. These growths are woody and tough, and the mower tends to leave a lot behind, so a sharp machine and regular mowing is essential. Mature lawns which are well looked after seed a lot less.
  • Seed heads are also caused by stress – either lack of water and/or nutrients. To determine the cause, check the soil moisture content – dry soil is a tell tale sign – compare with an area where there are no seed heads, often in shaded areas where the evaporation rate is less.
  • Insufficient nutrient levels, particularly trace elements such as iron & manganese, can cause the lawn to produce excessive seed heads. Soils lacking in trace elements can prevent the plant from taking up other nutrients such as Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium, so simply pouring more fertiliser on will not solve the problem.
  • The problem can be lessened if the lawn is fertilised with a fertiliser that has sufficient amounts of trace elements and iron and manganese such as Knights Special Mix (available from our retail outlet in 14 Prindiville Dve Wangara)  and then given a low mow (not scalped). Most often when the turf grows back after this mow in a couple of days there are noticably less seed heads.

Soft Leaf Buffalo Dry Patches

  • If you suspect the soil is tending dry, firstly check that all sprinklers are covering properly (use catch cups to check). New lawns will need more water than mature lawns until the root system is established, so they will need to be watered twice a day in cooler weather and at least 3 times a day during the heat of summer. Remember, the soil moisture content is the key.
  • A sure sign of lack of water is when the lawn starts to turn a bluey colour, the leaves start to fold up (like a book), and then the ends become crispy. The leaves will quickly turn brown after that.
  • If all sprinklers are working, open up the soil to a depth of 150 mm (6 inches) with a garden fork or spade, so that you can see & feel the soil. You will be able to see whether the soil is moist or dry and crumbling – compare with an area where the lawn is healthy & lush.
  • Black beetles are blamed for a lot of dry spots, however they usually only damage an already weakened lawn. The larvae eat the lawn roots, starving the lawn of nutrients. To check whether you have an infestation (more than 20 beetles per m2), flood the affected area with a hose and any beetles in the soil will come to the surface.
  • For more information on dry patches click on the link.

Watering Soft Leaf Buffalo

  • Watering should always be done early in the morning, at sunrise, never in the evening after sunset. Night watering is wasteful as lawns tend to go dormant and do not take up the water. Night watering also promotes fungal problems, such as Spring Dead Spot and Dollar Spot, as it increases humidity which is ideal for fungal growth.
  • Water once per day on your designated watering days for between 15 – 20 minutes per station, depending on water pressure and sprinkler configuration. Remember, gear drive and rotator type sprinklers need to be left on for a lot longer, some up to 45 minutes per station, before they deliver the same amount of water as conventional popups. Sub surface irrigation also requires a different watering time – you should check with the distributors of these products for the recommended watering times.

Wetting Agents

  • We recommend the REGULAR use of soil wetting agents (liquid or granular) to allow water to penetrate the surface; otherwise it will run off and be wasted. Wetting agents also help trap water in the root zone, as it often runs straight through our sandy soils.
  • Wetting agents do break down, so should be re-applied 3-4 times over spring and summer, particularly in our sandy, hydrophobic soils. It may be necessary to apply wetting agent 2-3 times over a 4-6 week period initially to treat very dry soils.
  • Wetting agent should be watered in well for best effect – it froths up when hosed in, which indicates that it has become soluble.


  • A lot of Perth’s soils tend towards alkalinity, particularly in coastal areas or where there are high concentrations of limestone. Buffalo lawns will tolerate alkaline conditions; however they do reach a point where growth becomes inhibited. You can use a pool tester kit to check pH – mix some soil in distilled water and carry out a simple test. Once again, a fertiliser supplemented by iron and manganese will help correct the pH level (Knights Special Mix)