Buffalo turf is one of the most versatile and durable ornamental turf types available today, and this remarkable grass can put up with a lot of punishment. However, one unfortunate disadvantages of buffalo grass turf is its relatively high water requirements, and as such successfully laying a buffalo turf lawn during Australia's dry, baking hot summer months can be a real challenge.
As you can imagine then, buffalo turf lawns (and indeed most varieties of turf) are best laid in spring and autumn months; however, if you need to lay down your turf now and the seasons aren't cooperating, there are steps you can take to ensure that your turf is laid successfully however hot the weather may be.
Protecting your turf prior to laying
Buffalo turf is at its most vulnerable to heat damage when it is held in storage, as the roots of the grass cannot take up the water and nutrients they need to repair it. Ideally then, your turf should be transported straight from the farm to your plot of land and laid as quickly as possible. If this is not practical, you should store your turf in a cool and relatively dry environment until it is laid. An enclosed shed or building that can block out the most intense sunlight is best for these purposes, but you should bear in mind that even these storage conditions can only protect your turf from drying out and rotting for a few days.
The amount of ground preparation you will need to undertake prior to laying depends largely on how dry your soil has become. If your soil is dry but has not formed a hardened crust, simply watering the ground slightly prior to laying can do a great deal to help your turf take quickly and effectively.
However, soil that has become too dry to absorb water efficiently (a situation known as soil hydrophobia), you may need to put a little more work into preparing it for turf laying. The best way to do this is by disturbing the soil, either using a rotovator or a good old fashioned spade, to break up the soil's water-resistant crust and allow the damper, loamier soils beneath to accept water. This is also a good time to remove any stones and weeds which may mar the final appearance of your turf. If your soil is still too dry and poor after being disturbed and watered, consider laying a thin layer of rich topsoil over it, to ensure that your turf gets the nutrients it needs while it is young and vulnerable.
Caring for your turf once it is laid
Assuming you have followed the proper storage and ground preparation procedures, your turf should take well to its new home. However, summer weather can still cause damage to even the most well-established buffalo lawn, so it's important to keep an eye on your lawn in the first few weeks and months after it is laid.
Judicious watering is naturally the most important step in keeping your turf healthy in summer, but over-watering a new turf lawn can cause it to rot and die off unnervingly quickly. As such, you should water your lawn when the soil beneath it becomes hard and dry, but before the grass itself starts to yellow and scorch. If the soil has been baked hard by summer heat, use a garden fork to aerate it slightly and allow water to penetrate it more deeply.
You should also take care when mowing buffalo lawns during the summer months. As an ornamental grass you will probably want to mow it quite short, but keeping your turf slightly longer during hot weather can help it retain water more effectively, and provides ground cover that discourages opportunistic weeds from taking advantage of weakened lawns.