A little green goes a long way

Lawns that stretch from property line to property line just don’t make much sense these days. Besides requiring a lot of fertilizers, herbicides and fungicides – chemicals that often end up in our streams, lakes and bays – large lawns with conventional spray irrigation waste one of our most precious resources: drinking water.

Cut back your grass

lawn_mowerCutting back your grass doesn’t mean giving up your lawn. Instead of thinking of grass as the focal point of your yard, think of it as having a function: a play area, for example, or a visual frame for a larger natural setting. With good soil, the right grass selection, and the right maintenance, you can still have a beautiful lawn area that needs little or not watering once established. And remember that grass is naturally resilient. It protects itself by going dormant in very dry conditions and springing back when normal rainfall returns.

Reclaim your landscape, one patch at a time

Start by giving up turf areas that don’t get much use, such as those near foundations, along medians, or on steep slopes. Replace these turf areas with groundcover, flower gardens, ornamental shrubs and shade trees that are water-wise and drought-resistant. Be careful adding impervious surfaces, such as paved walkways and patios. They increase runoff and may cause drainage problems. In the end, your water-wise yard will look far more interesting than it ever did with plain old turf.

Select a low water-use turf

Where you do have grass, consider a water-conserving, warm-season turf grass species, such as centipede, zoysia or Bermuda. Of the three, Bermuda cultivars are by far the best at conserving water and are most drought-resistant. Ask your cooperative extension or garden center which cultivars are most appropriate for your lawn.

Keep in mind that Bermuda grass will turn brown in the winter, so including shrubs, evergreen trees and cool-season flowering plants will help enhance the appearance of your landscape year round.

By choosing a low water-use grass suited to your region, enhancing the soil, and mowing high, you can grow healthy grass with a strong room system that will:

  • Survive dry and drought conditions when they occur
  • Resist disease, insects and weeds on its own
  • Reduce or eliminate the need for chemical applications
  • Use less water and be easier to maintain

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