Welcome to our first post!
Given the water supply crisis in California and elsewhere in the West, it’s no wonder that claims of drought tolerant “eco” grass are rampant.
We, at the Grass Roots Program, feel it is important to know the general differences in characteristics of species of grass as well as the variation between cultivars within the species that make variety selection extremely important when choosing a grass for your lawn.
But what turfgrass actually performs best in California when water is significantly reduced?
In 2003, the University of California Riverside conducted a study to find out. Twenty-four grasses — including traditional varieties (Fescue, Bermuda, Zoysia) and less common types (Canada bluegrass, Crested hairgrass) — were compared. Each was irrigated at 50% of the recommended (ET) rate. Each was rated for quality and density at different times of the year and at two mowing heights (1 ¼ inches and 3 inches).
Buffalograss consistently performed better than the other species. And one cultivar in particular, UC Verde, stood out above the rest. In fact, UC Verde rated twice as high as its nearest competitors, (Legacy buffalograss, Zoysia tenuifolia, Princess Bermuda).
The National Turfgrass Evaluation Program [NTEP] also conducts tests on all types and varieties of turfgrass. These tests are placed at Universities around the United States and the grasses are rated in several categories – including summer and winter color, leaf texture, density, drought tolerance, and disease/insect infestation. UC Verde [listed as UCR-95] surpasses all other buffalograss varieties for overall quality in the California climate.
This is the first of many blogs the GrassRoots Program will sponsor to assist you in making educated decisions with your lawn. We invite you to share your thoughts and questions.