Local News

Researcher: Green Lawns Don't Need Lots of Water

Posted August 22, 2007 5:38 p.m. EDT
Updated August 22, 2007 7:22 p.m. EDT

Research being conducted at North Carolina State University could help area residents keep their lawns from burning up despite the drought and tight water restrictions.

The Center for Turfgrass Environmental Research and Education at N.C. State is testing fescue, which grows on more than 60 percent of lawns across the state, to see how thirsty it can get without dying.

One test patch of grass wasn't watered in 55 days and has no hope of being resuscitated, said Grady Miller, a turf specialist at the center.

But another patch went for three weeks without water before being revived, which Miller said suggests that fescue can survive on very little water, although experts recommend an inch of water per week for the grass.

"When it was re-wetted, the fact (is) that this one could regrow," Miller said. "It's a ray of hope."

N.C. State also is testing sprinkler systems for companies. Some sense ground moisture and cut off the water if the grass doesn't need water.

Miller said residents who want to stave off brown lawns could plant warm-weather grass, like Bermuda. Some people who have done that go as far as painting their lawns green in the winter when Bermuda grass becomes a dormant brown color.

"There's no silver bullet for saving the grass," he said.

Watering lawns can account for 22 to 67 percent of an average home's annual water consumption, according to Turfgrass Producers International. So, area residents like Beth Fleishman said they know they could benefit from N.C. State's research.

"We love (our lawn) and we hope to keep it green," Fleishman said. "We've all got to do what we've got to do. If we don't have water, we don't have water."