09 August 2011

“Green” your lawn with drought-tolerant turf - DIY Advice Blog - Family Handyman DIY Community

“Green” your lawn with drought-tolerant turf - DIY Advice Blog - Family Handyman DIY Community

Here are a couple of eye-opening factoids:

— U.S. homeowners spend more to maintain their lawns than the average farmer spends on each acre of crops.

— For the average home, 50 to 70 percent of the water bill is for watering the lawn.

If your community is among the many that has implemented watering restrictions to deal with water shortages, it might be time to change the way you think about your yard.

First, consider replacing some or all of your existing turf with ground covers and drought-tolerant plantings.

no mow lawn seed mixtureSecond, consider planting a lawn that requires less water. You might wonder if it’s really possible to stop watering (and fertilizing) so much and still have nice-looking turf. According to High Country Gardens, the answer is yes. The nursery offers water-wise grass seed mixtures and grass plugs developed specifically for different regions to look good while requiring less water and fewer chemicals.

The “No Mow” lawn seed mix has been developed for the cooler, moister climates in the upper Midwest, northeastern U.S. and high elevations in the West. For hotter climates and areas in the southern U.S., check out the “Low Work and Water” seed mix. These specially blended mixes of dwarf fine fescue grass varieties provide deep-rooted and dense turf that, according to High Country Gardens, requires little additional water except during the driest spells in summer. You can leave it unmowed for a wild effect or mow it once a month (!) to achieve a more manicured look ($30 per 5-lb. bag, which seeds 1,000 sq. ft.).

High Country Gardens also offers Legacy Buffalo grass plugs (70 plugs for $50) that duplicate the lush green of traditional bluegrass turf in low-moisture, high-clay areas while using 50 to 75 percent less water. If you live in a region with sandy soils, try Blue Grama grass plugs instead.

Even if you’re not interested in grass, check out High Country Garden's Web site ( It has an abundance of information about drought-tolerant landscaping and offers high-quality, water-wise perennials, ornamental grasses and shrubs for your specific region. I’ve purchased many of their perennials over the years, and I’ve been very impressed with their plants, packing methods and customer service.

— Elisa Bernick, Associate Editor