I’ll say it: the Colorado Rockies are playing on the wrong type of grass. As October knocks on the door and the regular season winds down, the boys of summer need something better, something to focus their resolve, something inspiring. They need…
Before the turfies and sports field managers rise up in protest, let me explain: I know that bluegrass, the turf of choice in Coors Field, is durable and perfect for the pounding baseball dishes out. It recovers quickly, takes traffic, and looks darned good mowed to within an inch of its life.
Buffalo grass doesn’t.
But these are desperate times; our team is a hair’s breadth away from winning – or losing – the wildcard slot in the playoffs. Such times call for desperate measures, which is why Buchloë dactyloides (buffalo grass) is the answer.
But not just any buffalo grass, what we need is Legacy, a northern variety that changes color in the fall before going dormant. As the temperatures cool to nights below 40 degrees F, Legacy turns purple, just the thing needed to boost our Blake Street Bombers’ confidence.
Imagine the gasps of the crowd and the pride of the players as they see the field, mowed lilac-and-plum in a checkerboard pattern. Any visiting team would be stunned by the sight, giving the Rockies an edge in the game.
Should the Rockies insist on both durability as well as a beacon of hope, a compromise could be made by seeding buffalo grass in the shape of the logo into the outfield. As fall moves in, the unveiling of the huge “CR” would become one of the wonders of the state.
Not all buffalo grass does this. Southern types, bred to perform best where they grow year-round, don’t harden off for winter dormancy, which is what gives the northern varieties their color. Instead, southern types such as 609 or Prairie are shocked by winter’s kiss, going from green to brown in an evening.
These aren’t as hardy here in Colorado, and our turf specialist – Dr. Tony Koski of Colorado State University – doesn’t recommend using them here. Look for the northerns for your lawn, he says, “they’re smart enough, so to speak, to go dormant for surviving winter nights.” In his fact sheet on buffalo grass lawns, Koski recommends Legacy, Prestige and Turffalo.
If you’re not into plummy tones in your landscape, good news: not all of them go purple. Football fans will be thrilled to learn that they can have their lawn display their loyalty to the Denver Broncos by turning a striking orange just as the gridiron gladiators get their season underway.
Be aware that the intensity of the color depends on the care the grass receives in summer, primarily watering. Most people don’t water buffalo grass, says Koski, so don’t get the rich fall colors that make this grass a beautiful addition to the yard.
Yet buffalo grass doesn’t take traffic, so places where kids, dogs, and baseball players frequent should have a different turf. If you plan to convert your lawn, remember the time to do this is mid-May or early June.
For now, with only five games left to clinch a playoff spot, we’ll have to put up with bluegrass to carpet the field, and dream of purple grass along with the pennant.