Sir Walter vs Sapphire

How do you choose between the shade-tolerant buffalo grass brands? There’s plenty of conflicting information around, and it can be hard to know what’s important and accurate.

What’s the best grass for your lawn in Sydney, Southern Highlands, the Illawarra or Central Coast? This article will help you to understand the good and bad about Sir Walter Buffalo vs Sapphire Buffalo, in a head-to-head matchup.

About Buffalo Turf Grass

Buffalo grass is the preferred choice for many lawns today because it’s good in shade and looks luscious and green year ‘round.


Gone are the days where you could get a rash from enjoying the outdoors on a buffalo lawn. Modern varieties have been selectively bred to eradicate the microscopic jagged edges on leaf blades that caused irritation to the skin.

This is why you may see the term ‘soft leaf buffalo’ mentioned with many leading brands. Sapphire Buffalo and Sir Walter Buffalo are no exceptions, both having been bred in Australia for the conditions in all areas from Sydney to the Alice Springs to Canberra!

There are a number of key factors when weighing the pros and cons of buffalo grass brands. We will touch on each of these attributes to compare Sir Walter and Sapphire.

Least Amount of Thatch

Buffalo grass in general is more shade tolerant than the other varieties because of its broad leaf. Simply put, it catches more sunlight and can photosynthesize better than the other kinds of grass.

Having said that, Sapphire Buffalo has slightly thinner leaves than Sir Walter Buffalo. Some people prefer the finer look this gives it.

Both Sir Walter and Sapphire are shade tolerant, meaning that they can perform well with as little as 3 hours of sunlight a day. No lawn grass varieties can survive with less sunlight than this.

So if you’ve got a totally shady area, then you might look for a different ground cover there. Many lawns in Sydney are on smaller blocks now than in the old days. Many lawns will be in at least partial shade because our bigger houses cast a shadow on the lawn for some hours during the day.

Sapphire Buffalo is the best performing grass in the least amount of sunlight, even though it’s got the finest leaves of the Buffalo varieties. It performs slightly better than Sir Walter on shade-tolerance, but the gap between them isn’t wide.

Winner: Sapphire Buffalo

Mowing & Performance in Full Sun

Both Sir Walter and Sapphire Buffalo grows well in the sun. But all buffalo grasses can tend to thatch-up in very sunny lawns. It’s worth considering other varieties like Zoysia, if you’ve got a very sunny yard to turf.


A little bit of thatch is good for the lawn because it helps to insulate the soil from excessive evaporation. It also gives the lawn a soft cushioned feel that makes it an enjoyable surface for recreation.

Too much thatch can become a problem though, as you won’t be able to avoid scalping the lawn when you mow (the mower sinks down into the thatch). Eventually, without the green grass blades left to photosynthesize the lawn will die.

De-thatching is recommended when your lawn seems to be very ‘squishy’ underfoot and you appear to be ‘burning’ the lawn with every mow. Avoid thatching by mowing frequently in the warmer months.

Winner: Its a tie!

Thatch & Mowing

Sir Walter and Sapphire both get similar levels of thatch in full-sun. But Sir Walter can get just a little more thatch because it grows just a little faster than Sapphire. This can actually be a good thing which we’ll explain later.

Of course mowing is a part of owning any lawn. But Sir Walter will require slightly more mowing than Sapphire to keep it down in the warmer months.

In summer, grasses will go to seed. Some may find this an unattractive look and Sir Walter will also produce more seed than Sapphire. But if you keep the lawn mown, it’s not particularly noticeable.

Winner: Sapphire Buffalo

Wear & Tear + Turf Recovery

If you have kids and dogs tearing around your lawn, then its ability to self-repair is a real bonus. Alongside shade-tolerance, wear-resistance and recovery is a good reason for choosing buffalo grass.

In general, it’s pretty good at healing up any gouges and worn spots from heavy activity, like a vigorous game of backyard cricket. But because Sir Walter grows just a little quicker, it’s faster at self-healing than Sapphire. This makes it the preferred choice for yards that get used frequently.

Winner: Sir Walter

Seasonal Grass Colour Consistency

Buffalo lawns can ‘brown off’ in summer if unwatered due to the dry conditions. Then they can go a purpley colour in winter. In this area Sir Walter is better than Sapphire for colour consistency year ‘round. Again, there’s not much in it but Sir Walter is slightly better.

Winner: Sir Walter


Sir Walter Buffalo is a great all-round performing grass, which tends to do better in high-traffic areas than Sapphire. If you need a shade-tolerant grass for your active yard, then this is the best choice.

But if maximum shade tolerance and mowing frequency is most important to you, and you don’t expect the lawn to get much wear, Sapphire will probably suit you better than Sir Walter.

Sir Walter / Sapphire Buffalo Prices

Sir Walter Buffalo vs Sapphire Buffalo