Answer: Bluegrass, the fescues and the perennial ryegrasses are cool season grasses that are relatively water intensive. The selection of a grass from this group should be based on factors other than water conservation. Buffalograss, blue grama and western wheatgrass can offer significant savings in water use.
Buffalograss is a sod forming, warm season, native grass that is extremely drought resistant. It is low growing and attractive in appearance with few disease and insect problems. Sound too good to be true? It is. We may be a little too high and have too short of a growing season for buffalograss to thrive. But if you have a warm, south facing location with heavy soil, it is well worth trying. It has the ability to go dormant under drought stress and then to quickly green up and resume growth once moisture becomes available. Native grass seed is expensive; buy only certified and treated seed. A few types are available as sod or plugs.
Blue grama is the dominant native grass that is optimally adapted to our area. It is a bunching, warm season grass with a fine texture. It can be somewhat sod forming if mowed occasionally to a three-inch height. It has excellent heat and drought resistance. Like Buffalograss, it is green only during the warm part of the year and shares the ability to recover quickly from drought stress. It is slow to germinate and establish, so it has limited applications for ?quick? lawns. It may well be the grass of choice for a truly water efficient turf area.
Western wheatgrass is a native semi-sod forming, cool season grass that tends to have a spreading growth habit if mowed occasionally to a three-inch height. It has good drought tolerance and is best adapted to heavier soils. It has a different appearance from other turf grasses since the leaf colors range from blue and blue-gray to green. It will tolerate both acidic and alkaline soils.
Crested wheatgrass and smooth bromegrass are two other grasses that might have applications for the home landscape; however they are coarser grasses that usually will not form a tight sod and lack the density desirable for lawn areas. The Natural Resources Management Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) has developed dryland, range type and grass mixes suitable for sandy foothills and clay foothill applications.
Hope this information is helpful!
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