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Tulsa Landscaper Praises New Grass Strain

A new strain of turf grass, developed over several years at the University of Nebraska, requires only a quarter-inch of water a week, one-half to one-third of that required by the Bermuda grass shown here, among other strains.

It may not seem like much, but a small plot of Bermuda grass is being treated with liquid death. This 2,000-square-foot experiment at The Village at Central Park subdivision will provide the first test for what one Tulsa landscaper believes could revolutionize landscaping in Oklahoma.

Bluum Outdoor Environments claims to be the first to introduce Legacy buffalo grass to the Sooner State. With roots four to six feet long, Legacy may go several weeks without watering.

The grass spreads quickly, with a yard of pods 18 inches apart, approaching saturation in less than 90 days. In addition, since it grows only four to six inches tall, Legacy requires mowing only once or twice a year.

Although Legacy won the 2001 Green Thumb award as the top new plant introduction of the year, J. Nathan Vaughn suspects the initial higher cost of planting pods for the seedless grass probably hindered its initial acceptance in Oklahoma. But in this age of high gasoline prices, ozone warnings, rising electricity costs and water shortages, the president and owner of Bluum thinks the economic advantages of Legacy make it the grass of the future.

"If people knew they didn't have to mow their yards more than once or twice just to keep it nice, can you imagine the impact that would have just with the Clean Air Act and the smog issues we have to deal with in Tulsa?" he said.

This summer Vaughn detailed the Legacy selling points to officials with the city of Tulsa, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and several other entities responsible for maintaining large grasslands. While many expressed interest, he said they also face budget restraints that limit opportunities for such tests.

That is when private developer Jamie Jamieson stepped in. Appreciating the sustainability concepts behind Legacy, which was developed from a grass native to Oklahoma, the mover behind The Village at Central Park hired Bluum to kill off one small field of Bermuda grass at his downtown subdivision for planting Legacy.

"We will be paying upfront for it and it will be a good while before we recoup the costs for it," Jamieson said of the test, which he expects could cost him $1,800. "But we will be saving money in the long run."

Larry Kay, Bluum's consulting horticulturalist, acknowledged that some landscapers may have stayed away from Legacy due to published fears buffalo grass could not take the same wear and tear Bermuda and some other competitors endure. While noting such studies involved buffalo strains grown from seed, not Legacy, Kay said those fears ignore the historic fact that these strains thrived under the pounding hooves and massive herds from which they draw their name.

Although Vaughn said Bluum could double its revenues this year, following 30-percent growth last year, he said Legacy would not play a roll in that. Considering the economics, with home sales and construction leveling off, Vaughn said his primary task now is educating the public on the Legacy issues and advantages.

"I feel it's a long, uphill battle to do that," he said. "However, as a result sales will follow, not just for our company but our community."

Source: The Journal Record

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December 10, 2019, 8:05 pm PDT

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