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Drought Resistant Grasses

Hardy grasses have become a mainstay in parts of the USA where water scarcity remains a growing concern. Two states that have been greatly affected by extensive periods of drought are Utah and Texas. As a result, these states have been forced to find drought-resistant alternatives to grasses normally used throughout these regions.

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The University of Utah has been experimenting with several different kinds of hybrid, drought-resistant grasses. One in particular, called Bella Bluegrass, was discovered growing wild on the plains of Nebraska. It grows more slowly and uses a lot less water.

Bella Bluegrass is one of more than 200 varieties of Kentucky Bluegrass that have been discovered all over the world and studied to see if it will make a better, less thirsty, lawn. Some claim it will use 30 to 50 percent less water.

Texas Agricultural Experiment Station photo by Dr. Milt Engelke

Austin, Texas
The Austin Water Utility is offering to pay city residents to let their St. Augustine grass die and replace it with more drought-hearty varieties.

Check with your city's ordinances to determine which grasses can and cannot be planted on the landscape. Popular drought-resistant grasses include:

Zoysia grass
Flexible. Loves sun and shade. Slow growing. Tolerates traffic. Lush carpet. El Toro, Empire, Jamur, and Palisades most drought-resistant.

Bermuda grass
Loves sun, responds well to little watering, good traffic tolerance, but needs lots of mowing. Many varieties are drought-tolerant. Best in sub-tropical southern zones.

Buffalo grass
Midwest prairie native needs full sun. So-so with traffic. Warm season but tolerates cold. Minimal rainfall and slow growing. Most are drought-tolerant.

Bahia grass
Decent choice for infertile soil. Needs full sun. Course but thick covering.

Cool season grasses for more northern climates. Absorbs water well after drought.

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May 26, 2019, 3:11 pm PDT

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