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Grasses that require less mowing, less water

by Terri Gruca / KVUE News

Bio | Email | Follow: @TerriG_KVUE


Posted on October 27, 2009 at 9:35 PM

I hear from so many of my friends how tough this summer has been on their grass.

It’s why you may be excited about the researching UT is doing. Thanks to a grant by Wal-Mart UT researchers are testing seven different types of native grasses to try to find a combination that proves to be drought resistant and requires less maintenance.
And they may have found it.
According to UT researcher Mark Simmons the native grasses so far seem to be a mixture of Buffalo grass, Blue Grama and Curly Mesquite grass. They are all currently commercially available, which means you can plant them in your own yard.
You can find more information about those grasses and the UT native lawn program here.
You can also go here to learn  how to plant some of these native lawns.
What’s wrong with what we’re currently doing?
According to Simmons, “Some of the grasses we use on our lawns here in Texas aren’t the best species.”
For example Bermuda and St. Augustine--Bermuda grass is hearty and grows easily. It is also pretty drought resistant. However, Simmons said it grows so fast that it requires more mowing than many of the native grasses.
St. Augustine is one of the most popular grasses. Simmons said it is actually more susceptible to pests and disease and like most lawns requires a lot of water.
"Lawns use between 30 and 60 percent of the urban water around the country,” said Simmons.
"With a native grass with these native grasses you can effectively let them go dormant, drought dormant," said Simmons. “So after a summer like we’ve just had under the water restrictions, you could allow these turf grasses to actually go brown. They won’t die they just go dormant. And then when the rains come they’ll just green up again.”
So far that’s exactly what researchers have found. A lack of water won’t kill these native grasses. Like Bermuda grass they’re easy to grow, but they are less susceptible to weeds and require less mowing.           
"These were mowed two to three weeks ago,” Simmons said pointing to two plots of grass sitting side-by-side. “And you can already see the Bermuda grass is much higher now. It's coming up about twice the height of the native turf grasses."
And there’s another benefit to using native grasses.
"It's actually a much more pleasant texture to sit on and walk on," said Simmons.