Sod Comparison & Differences
Buffalo vs. Fine Fescue

Let's dive into a side-by-side comparison of these two grasses. We're looking at everything from cost and looks to how well they stand up to drought, shade, and foot traffic. Stick around to see which one comes out on top!

Close up photo of Buffalo sod
Buffalo
vs
Close up photo of Fine Fescue sod
Fine Fescue

Cost

Which grass is typically more expensive, Buffalo or Fine Fescue?

Between these two, Buffalo is typically on the pricier side with an average cost per square foot of $0.68. On a per pallet basis, which is usually how sod is sold, this comes out to roughly $337.50 per pallet.

Fine Fescue on the other hand, is a more moderately priced at $0.60 per square foot (on average). This comes out to around $300.00 per pallet.

Buffalo
from$0.55 / sq ft
to$0.80 / sq ft
Fine FescueBudget Friendly
from$0.45 / sq ft
to$0.75 / sq ft

Editor's note: It's important to remember that both of these are averages based on data from around the country so cost can vary depending on your location. Keep in mind this doesn't include other fees like delivery or installation.

See our sod calculator to get a comprehensive sod estimate.

Shade Tolerance

Which grass grows better in the shade?

Buffalo Grass, adapted to open plains, prefers full sun and requires at least 6 to 8 hours daily, underperforming in shady spaces.

Buffalo
Shade Tolerance4 / 10
Fine Fescue
Shade Tolerance9 / 10

On the other hand, Fine Fescue stands out for shade tolerance, needing as little as 3 to 4 hours of direct sun each day and flourishing even in heavily shaded lawn areas.

Appearance

Which one looks better? You decide.

When choosing between sods like Buffalo (pictured top) and Fine Fescue (pictured bottom), personal preference plays a significant role, but understanding the nuances of each type's appearance can guide your decision. Here's what to consider:

Buffalo close up imageFine Fescue close up image

Buffalo Grass rolls out a soft, blue-green carpet with thin blades, giving you a lawn that feels soft to walk on and adds a touch of the prairie to your backyard.

Fine Fescue is all about the delicate look and feel; its fine blades knit together for a soft, green pasture that's easy on the eyes and gentle for your soles.

Drought Tolerance

Which one needs more water?

Buffalo Grass is naturally adapted to arid conditions, requiring minimal watering to maintain its health and appearance.

Buffalo
Drought Tolerance9 / 10
Fine Fescue
Drought Tolerance7 / 10

On the other hand, Fine Fescue is one of the more drought tolerant among cool-season grasses, able to survive dry conditions with minimal watering.

Takeaway: If you're located in a somewhat dry and arid geographic region and are looking for a grass that can handle drought-like conditions, Buffalo is the better option between Buffalo and Fine Fescue.

Grow Zones

Cold or warm weather - which do they prefer?

Buffalo is well-suited for growth in warmer climates. The ideal temperature range for laying Buffalo sod is between 70°F and 85°F.

Buffalo
warm zones
Fine Fescue
transition zones
cool zones

Fine Fescue generally grows better in cool or moderate climates. When it comes to laying sod, the ideal range for Fine Fescue is between 60°F and 75°F. If you choose to lay outside of the ideal range, you can still have success, but it may take a longer time to esablish and require a bit more maintenance.

As you may have noticed, Buffalo and Fine Fescue have somewhat different climatic preferences for optimal growth! Let's move on...

Traffic Tolerance

Which sod handles heavy foot traffic better?

Buffalo Grass has low to moderate traffic tolerance and is best for less-trodden areas, but it can endure gentle play and relaxation time.

Buffalo
Traffic Tolerance4 / 10
Fine Fescue
Traffic Tolerance3 / 10

Similarly, Fine Fescue has lower traffic tolerance and is best for ornamental areas or yards that don’t see intense games and heavy footfall.

Takeaway: If you're looking for a grass that can handle heavy foot traffic, Buffalo is the better option between Buffalo and Fine Fescue.

Establishment Rate

Which grass grows faster?

Buffalograss, a true prairie grass, is slow to establish but eventually forms a low-maintenance turf that's ideal for the Great Plains and similar regions.

Buffalo
Establishment Rate5 / 10
Fine Fescue
Establishment Rate6 / 10

Fine Fescue is slow to establish but eventually forms a low-growing, fine-textured turf that's shade-tolerant and suited for cooler climates or less trafficked areas.

Net, net - if you're looking for a grass that establishes quickly, Fine Fescue is the way to go.

Pest & Disease Resistance

Which handles pests better?

Buffalo Grass generally resists pests well, though it can attract mealybugs and mites; it's also notably resistant to many diseases, thriving in varied environments.

Buffalo
Resistance6 / 10
Fine Fescue
Resistance7 / 10

Fine Fescue, while resistant to most common pests, can sometimes be troubled by red thread and other fungal diseases, particularly in damp conditions. Overall, it's a solid choice if you're worried about pests.

TLDR - if you're looking for a grass that wards off pests and disease, Fine Fescue edges out the competition.

Let's Pick a Winner

Which sod is better, Buffalo or Fine Fescue?

Alright it's time to count the scores up.

Most blogs or articles are going to give you a wishy washy "it's up to you" speil. That is definitely true. You'll need to choose based on your geographic conditions and what you like most looks-wise.

That being said, if we just compare the scores based on the following measures. Higher is better in this case.

  • Average Cost: 5 for Buffalo, 6 for Fine Fescue
  • Shade Tolerance: 4 for Buffalo, 9 for Fine Fescue
  • Drought Tolerance: 9 for Buffalo, 7 for Fine Fescue
  • Traffic Tolerance: 4 for Buffalo, 3 for Fine Fescue
  • Establishment Rate: 5 for Buffalo, 6 for Fine Fescue
  • Pest & Disease Resistance: 6 for Buffalo, 7 for Fine Fescue

Drumroll please...

All in all, Fine Fescue comes out on top with a score of 38/60 versus 33/60 for Buffalo.

Thanks for reading! If you have any feedback or corrections for us, please email our editor at editor@sodcalculator.com.