Sod Comparison & Differences
Buffalo vs. Tall 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 Tall Fescue sod
Tall Fescue

Cost

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

Between these two, Tall Fescue is typically on the pricier side with an average cost per square foot of $0.73. On a per pallet basis, which is usually how sod is sold, this comes out to roughly $362.50 per pallet.

Buffalo on the other hand, is a more moderately priced at $0.68 per square foot (on average). This comes out to around $337.50 per pallet.

BuffaloBudget Friendly
from$0.55 / sq ft
to$0.80 / sq ft
Tall Fescue
from$0.60 / sq ft
to$0.85 / 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
Tall Fescue
Shade Tolerance7 / 10

On the other hand, Tall Fescue has one of the better shade tolerances among grass types, performing well with around 4 hours of direct sunlight, ideal for dappled or intermittent shade.

Appearance

Which one looks better? You decide.

When choosing between sods like Buffalo (pictured top) and Tall 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 imageTall 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.

Tall Fescue grows thick and green, with wider blades that create a hardy lawn; it's comfortable enough for playtime and stays resilient through rough and tumble activities.

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
Tall Fescue
Drought Tolerance7 / 10

On the other hand, Tall Fescue is reasonably drought tolerant due to its deep root system, but it does best with occasional deep watering during dry spells.

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 Tall 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
Tall Fescue
transition zones
cool zones

Tall Fescue generally grows better in cool or moderate climates. When it comes to laying sod, the ideal range for Tall 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 Tall 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
Tall Fescue
Traffic Tolerance7 / 10

On the other hand, Tall Fescue has good traffic tolerance with its deep roots, making it able to withstand a fair amount of play and use without giving up its lush appearance.

Takeaway: If you're looking for a grass that can handle heavy foot traffic, Tall Fescue is the better option between Buffalo and Tall 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
Tall Fescue
Establishment Rate6 / 10

Tall Fescue establishes at a moderate rate, presenting a robust, deep-rooted lawn that is heat and drought-tolerant, often recommended for transitional zones.

Net, net - if you're looking for a grass that establishes quickly, Tall 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
Tall Fescue
Resistance6 / 10

Tall Fescue is fairly resistant to many pests, though it can encounter issues with brown patch and fusarium blight, especially in hot, humid weather.

TLDR - if you're looking for a grass that wards off pests and disease, they are pretty similar in this respect, so feel free to go with either one!

Let's Pick a Winner

Which sod is better, Buffalo or Tall 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, 4 for Tall Fescue
  • Shade Tolerance: 4 for Buffalo, 7 for Tall Fescue
  • Drought Tolerance: 9 for Buffalo, 7 for Tall Fescue
  • Traffic Tolerance: 4 for Buffalo, 7 for Tall Fescue
  • Establishment Rate: 5 for Buffalo, 6 for Tall Fescue
  • Pest & Disease Resistance: 6 for Buffalo, 6 for Tall Fescue

Drumroll please...

All in all, Tall Fescue comes out on top with a score of 37/60 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.