Monday, July 13, 2009

Watching Grass Grow : Week 16 Water Saving?

The main claim that attracted me to the UC Verde strain of Buffalo grass was the claim that it would require less water than Bermuda Grass after it was established.

Here it is, 4 months after setting out the plugs. It's a lawn, it's green, and it's not stressed by the temps hovering near the 110°F mark. It was 112° when I took the picture and scurried back onto air-conditioned safety.

And how is the water consumption? Keep reading. I updated the calculations, and it's using less than I thought it was.

Every sprinkler system is a bit different, so the first thing to do is measure the water delivered in 15 minutes. It's the "tuna can" method explained here. Small pet food cans also work. Any container that is flat-bottomed, straight-sided, and a couple inches deep will do.

Lawn Water Calculator for Phoenix. The tuna can method will also reveal any over- and under-watered spots.

After measuring how much water was in each can, I entered the measurements into the calculator. The calculator is based on watering every third day - not optimal for Bermuda, but many people have a problem watering less often. At least it's better than watering every day.

According to the calculator, if the lawn were established Bermuda, It should be watered for 15 minutes every three days. I'm watering 15 12 minutes every four days, which is only 75% 60% of the water recommended for Bermuda. Already! YAY!

The lawn is not mature - the vendor of the Buffalo grass told me it will use less as the root system goes deeper. He also said that UC Verde is the only one of the buffalo grass cultivars that truly thrives in heat. That's good, because Phoenix has had temperatures mostly above 105°F for the past couple of weeks and there's no relief in sight.
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Monday, July 6, 2009

Watching Grass Grow Week 15: Turf, I haz it!

Wow, give buffalo grass a week or two of 105°F+ (over 40°C for you metric people) with Arizona monsoon humidity and it turns into turf! Real, fine-bladed grassy lawn kind of turf!

The annual weeds are quitting faster than an Alaskan governor, and the Bermuda grass is ducking for cover like a politician caught hiking the Argentine trail. Even the spurge is being displaced.

I am watering every 4 days, which is enough to keep an established Bermuda grass lawn alive, and the UC Verde buffalo grass is green and looks and feel like a LAWN!

Even the small area that is getting less than half the water as the rest of the lawn (because the sprinklers need adjusting) is still looking like lawn. It's clearly drought-stressed, but not dead, and I fixed the sprinkler problem. It's still turf, just not tall turf.

I am hard to impress, but ... I'm impressed. If this could be sold as sod, it would be perfect, but 3 to 4 months establishing the plugs is a minor investment of time compared to the saving water and mowing time I'm going to be enjoying next year.

I'll point out where I screwed up establishing the lawn in a later post.

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