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New Generation of Water-Saving Lawns on the Way

ALBANY, Ore., Oct. 4 /PRNewswire/ — Focused on identifying plants and lawn grasses that thrive on less water, the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance (TWCA) today announced it has qualified two dozen varieties of drought-tolerant grasses in time for fall planting season.

The non-profit organization, made up of leading researchers and seed producers, is dedicated to the discovery, evaluation and development of environmentally green landscape products that can go weeks without water.

“We’re in the very early stages of identifying exciting, new water-sipping, drought-tolerant grasses that could play a major role in lawn water conservation,” said Dr. Mike Richardson, a University of Arkansas plant sciences professor and TWCA research adviser. “Current trials have revealed bermudagrasses that hang onto 70% of their green color after 60 days in summer temperatures without irrigation,” he added, noting many new cool season grasses require a lot less water as well.

“The research has shown that new drought-tolerant Kentucky blue grasses could save as much as 10,000 gallons of water over a single growing season compared to some heat-tolerant varieties,” Richardson said of recent TWCA research findings. “Since many newfound blue grass varieties can go an extra week or two without water, periodic rains could help consumers save even more irrigation water each year.”

The TWCA points out, however, the success of next generation grasses depends heavily on consumer education and the elimination of misperceptions about lawn water requirements.

“Grasses don’t use too much water, people do. As a result, turf gets the unfair and unfounded label as a heavy water user,” explained Richardson, who puts helpful conservation tips to work in his own lawn. “The recent success of eco-friendly lawn products like Pennington’s Smart Seed is proof of the growing trend toward environmentally greener lawns. Consumers want to use less irrigation water on their lawns. They just need to learn how. By planting TWCA-qualified grasses, they’re taking an important first step toward landscape water conservation,” he added, noting Smart Seed is a TWCA-qualified turf solution.

Water Conserving Lawn Irrigation Tips

* Turn off automatic sprinkler and irrigation systems and operate them manually
* Take note of where you see the first signs of drought stress in your lawn “That first patch of stressed lawn will consistently serve as your notice that it’s time to irrigate,” said Richardson, sharing his own personal irrigation barometer that keeps his lawn healthy at home.
* When you do irrigate, give the lawn a good soaking to encourage deeper root growth. The deeper the root growth, the longer the turf can sustain healthy, green growth without water.
* Select drought-tolerant grasses suited to your planting zone and qualified by the TWCA

The TWCA-qualified turf grasses will be posted at tgwca.org.

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