Also Know as Common Soft-Leaf Buffalo, Shademaster was commercialised c. 1985 as the first “soft-leaf” buffalo grass cultivar; originated from near Stockton in the lower Hunter Valley (NSW). Shademaster is not protected by a PBR (Plant Breeders Rights) and can be grown or sold without a licence. Not having a PBR in place could mean that the consumer has no guarantee the buffalo ordered will actually be Shademaster, but this cultivar is often sold at a less expensive price

The overall HAL project results for Shademaster would be considered average. From the HAL report the average Leaf Width is 6.30mm. Shademaster also has an average leaf length of 17.0mm.

During the HAL Project various tests were conducted for Quality, Colour and Thatch ratings. Shademaster results for Quality averaged across the test sites had a score of 70 from 100 (1st place score was 72) which placed Shademaster in the middle of the cultivars reviewed. Shademaster was also above average in the colour test scoring 61.4 from 100 overall which placed it last compared to the other buffalos. This low score comes from Shademaster turning purple in the cooler months, during summer Shademaster has excellent colour scores.

Shademaster showed normal thatch levels when compared to other varieties, most of the buffalos showed similar levels of thatch only varying slightly by a few %. Shademaster average thatch levels were only 4% more than Wintergreen Couch.

With average Disease Tolerance, Shademaster would be best suited to drier environments where disease is not prevalent. being the 3nd worst affected by "Gaeumannomyces wongoonoo" as can be seen from the images Here...

Shademaster is a good wearing buffalo performing well in most of the tests conducted during the HAL project. with good shade tolerance Shademaster would be a good all round buffalo, except for the winter colour can turn some consumer away from this variety.

Individual Tests

Shade Test:

Shademaster Buffalo had surprising results being that it is not a PBR(Plant Breeders Rights) turf, This variety is very common with turf farms and does not have any licensing associated with it as the other varieties do. this can be of concern to some customers who are guaranteed the correct product is supplied when ordering a PBR turf. However Shademaster peformed well in full sun and the 70% shade test showing the highest growth rate for both. the Quality of Shade master was acceptable in all tests.

Grams per m2 Ranking Average of all cultivars
Full Sun 3.97 1 2.98
30% Shade 3.06 5 2.87
50% Shade 2.47 =3 2.25
70% Shade 2.46 1 1.73

Drought Tolerance

The drought test showed that Shademaster can grow in areas of 50% net evaporation replacement without any affect on the growth. Shademaster did loose around 15% colour during the 50% test. Shademaster did show only 45% growth during the 33% replacement test and lost the most colour from all cultivars tested. reporting a hue angle of 100 for the 50% test and around 84 in the 33% test.

(Hue Angles - 130=Green/blue 110=green 100=light green, 90= green/yellow, 80-yellow)

Wear Test

Shademaster Buffalo put in a reasonable performance in this test. Like a few other cultivars in this review, Shademaster did not show any bare ground until week 8 of the test, Shademaster did take a few weeks to recover the ground, returning to 0% bare ground on the 14th week.

Cultivar Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 8 Week 9 Week 11 Week 13
Shademaster 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 3.7% 2.5% 2.5% 3.8%

Winter Colour

Shademaster has great summer colour, but during the winter months you could expect to see your lawn turn brown/purple as this cultivar does not maintain colour during winter.


Matilda Turf Star Rating

Detailed Star Rating

ShadeShade - 4 Stars

WearWear - 4 Stars

Maintenance /
MowingMaintenance - 4 Stars

Drought ToleranceDrought Tolerance - 3 Stars

Winter ColourWinter Colour - 4 Stars

AestheticsAesthetics - 3.5 Stars

Value for MoneyValue for Money - 4 Stars

Thatch (Sponginess)Sponginess - 2 Stars

Overall RatingGeneral Toughness - 4 Stars