People Waste Water, Not Turfgrass

by Ron Hall
8/2/2014

Here's a friendly Turf magazine shoutout to Neil Sperry who publishes Gardens magazine and hosts "Texas Gardening" each Sunday morning on WBAP AM/FM.

Sperry penned a recent well-reasoned column in the Fort Worth (Texas), Star-Telegram, ("Turfgrass on Trail"), that explains why Americans love their lawns and he shared the many benefits that lawns provide our society, including environmental benefits.

And remember, he's writing to Texas readers who have been experiencing severe droughts in recent years, and where there are some very vocal critics of  "water-wasting lawns" - to use their phrase.

To get to the point of Sperry's column: It's not lawns that waste water; it is us, property owners, who waste precious water on our lawns.

Sperry writes that many vocal critics hold turfgass accountable for all of the region's current water shortages. (Although they may be losing sight of the fact that local growth has far outpaced additional sources of water.) You hear figures saying that outdoor watering accounts for two-thirds or three-quarters of all the water consumption in Southern states during the summer.

He continues: Those figures are probably correct, but there are remedies available. Before we start ripping out large parts of our lawns, we need to be honest - we waste water. We could reduce water consumption for irrigation by 40 or 50 percent without having any measurable impact on the looks of our landscapes. That's how badly we overwater our plants.

Smart controllers on sprinkler systems could help us meet that goal. So could smart people in charge of water faucets. If we learn the symptoms of plants that need water, then wait to irrigate until we see those symptoms starting to appear, we could save hundreds of dollars and thousands of gallons.

If we would be willing to make those few significant changes in how we water our lawns, we could still have healthy turf grass and ample water for all of our other needs.

Sperry goes on to list the many benefits that lawns provide us and our communities.

He concludes his column with these two thoughtful paragraphs:

The takeaway from all of this, then, is that there is ample room for turf grass, decorative stone, handsome and lush shrubs, and even, in proper planting spots, xerophytic plants in every North Texas landscape. Enjoy them all.

Hopefully you won't take out all of your turf grass. You might be giving up a valuable asset for something that wouldn't serve you nearly as well.

You may want to share or download and save Sperry's column. Click here to read the article on www.star-telegram.

Source: www.star-telegram.com