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Lawn-watering study could boost proposed restrictions

Posted June 24, 2008
Updated June 25, 2008

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— Lawn-watering limits under consideration in Raleigh wouldn't harm most lawns, according to a study by four North Carolina State University professors.

Garry Grabow and Rod Huffman, professors of biological and agricultural engineering, and crop science professors Dan Bowman and Grady Miller planted 5,000 square feet of tall fescue sod at an N.C. State field laboratory on Lake Wheeler Road in late 2006. The grass was divided into 40 experimental plots and was watered with an automatic irrigation system.

"We are looking at different types of irrigation," Grabow said, noting some plots were watered daily, while others were watered once or twice a week.

Some of the plots had special sensors to measure soil moisture and the amount of water used by the grass and lost to evaporation. The sensors controlled when and how much irrigation was done, and the professors said they are far more efficient than the daily timers most people use to turn their irrigation systems on and off.

"There's no reason to water every day," Grabow said. "You always want to use water wisely, and this is just one tool in the overall scheme of things to help people do that."

A Raleigh task force is looking at the possibility of creating year-round water restrictions that would limit people to watering their lawns two days a week, and the N.C. State study could validate the proposal.

"The Water Conservation Council will be interested to hear (the study's findings)," said Ed Buchan, water conservation specialist with the city's Public Utilities Department.

The professors plan to continue their study for another two years. Having determined that watering twice a week will keep lawns healthy, they said, they want to study which types of grass are the most water-efficient.

"Water is a scarce resource, and it's becoming more scarce as the population grows. We have to work harder and harder to make good use of it," Huffman said.


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  • Tired_of_LIBERALS Jun 25, 2008

    I am multi-dimensional... :-P

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 25, 2008

    Tired_of_LIBERALS said, "The H.B.A. has lobbied and overbuilt in this area. That is the reason for the lack of available water. There was plenty before the greedy developers ravaged the area."

    You're probably right. :-)

    But....are those "greedy developers" over there at the HBA (Home Builder Assoc) a bunch of tree hugging liberals who "ravaged the area"? And, since the conservative political party is still taking billions of $ from lobbyist (unlike the slightly more liberal party who changed their policy on this), I'm surprised that you're against the HBA lobbying their government so they can build all they want. Money buys votes.

    I liked your comment. It's just that your moniker just does not seem to fit your opinion here.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jun 25, 2008

    I have a Darwin yard...survival of the fittest. :-) A brown lawn is a badge of honor in my neighborhood.

    I think that water restrictions should be made permanent. We are growing too fast (not just in NC) and wasting too much (not just water) to sustain ourselves.

    Finite resources are not infinitely available.

  • charlesboyer Jun 25, 2008

    Yowsa, those useless tropical plants sequester CO2 and every square yards converts enough CO2 to breathable O2 for four people every day.

  • bcc Jun 25, 2008

    Yep, I have st aug in my yard, never water it or feed it and its lush green all summer long with no weeds.

  • Tired_of_LIBERALS Jun 25, 2008

    The H.B.A. has lobbied and overbuilt in this area. That is the reason for the lack of available water. There was plenty before the greedy developers ravaged the area.

  • veyor Jun 25, 2008

    So far, going on two years now, the City has not done one single thing to speed up the the construction of more capacity. They have spent tons of money on useless items, but not on infrastructure. The only reason our children can't play in the yard with a sprinkler anywhere in the eartern part of the United States is lack of leadership. They're playing everyday in the Arizona desert!

  • Yowza Jun 25, 2008

    while watering your lawn less is a step in the right direction, this begs the issue of having maintaining a useless tropical plant covering your landscape. Using native plants (http://www.ncsu.edu/wrri/uwc/xeriscape.pdf) or growing food with rainwater (http://www.lawnstogardens.com/) would be truly legitimate solutions.

  • dws Jun 25, 2008

    put the restrictions in place and keep them there.....it becomes 2nd nature and you never give it another thought

  • something2say Jun 24, 2008

    Water is not an endless supply! Why waste it if it isn't doing any good! I support water restrictions and I hope they find ways to force Home Owner Associations to recognize the water restrictions, drought conditions etc. I know people were getting fined by HOA's because their grass wasn't green enough last year! Craziness!