Water Your Grass Less

Selecting the appropriate type of grass to grow in your yard will make a significant difference in the amount of water that is necessary for lush growth. Warm season and cool season grasses require differing amounts of water to remain healthy. The far North and far South don’t provide many viable choices as one is virtually required to select a warm or cool season grass, however much of the United States is located in zones where either can thrive. Warm season grasses can be grown as far north as Southern New England, likewise cooler season grasses can be grown as far south as Georgia. Warmer season grasses generally require less water than the cool season grasses.

Lawns that require the least amount of water are affected by the particular type of grass grown and seed and sod producers are propagating many varieties that require relatively low soil moisture content to thrive and provide the lush lawn that is desirable by most home owners.

A couple of rules must be observed to reduce water requirements for healthy and lush turf.

1. Determine if a warm season grass (examples include Bermuda, Bahia, Zoysia, Buffalo) or cool season grass (Rye, Fescues, Bluegrass) will provide the best results.
2. Next one should should examine the different varieties that are available to insure that one or possibly a combination or grasses is selected that will stand up to the expected use ie. heavy use by children or pets or very light use.
3. Within each variety of grass there are some which are particularly adapted to tolerate drought or low water requirements. It is in this selection that will prove the most beneficial in the quest to minimize water usage. Some of the cool season grasses have particular characteristics that reduce water usage. One of the varieties called Rhizomatous Tall Fescue (RTF) requires considerably less water than other Fescues and in fact has been labeled as a “water saver”.
4. Warm season grasses tolerate drought much better than the cool season grasses and among those Zoysia seems to be the least demanding of water and if it starts to “brown” because of water deficiency, it will quickly respond to watering and green up quickly.
5. Be cognizant of shady area that require less water and adjust your watering pattern to conserve.
6. Water as early as possible during the day to achieve the maximum benefit and reduce evaporation.
7. Insure that thatch from lawn mowing does not build up to excessive levels as this will prevent water from reaching the root systems of your grass.
8. Consider using rain water catchment systems. This is especially effective for smaller lawns and the expense of establishment will often be off-set by reduced water bills as well as the satisfaction of knowing that you are being environmentally friendly.
9. Insure that run-off is eliminated by observing how the soil is soaking up the moisture. Stop watering if run-off is occurring and restart when the run-off recedes.
10. Don’t automatically water every 1-3 days if recent rain has produced adequate moisture.
11. Watering less frequently and more thoroughly will save water. Frequent light spraying is never an effective method as evaporation uses most of the water and root systems will become shallow and subject to disease, insects and stress.

Selecting the right grass for the right climate and applying a few simple common-sense rules will reduce lawn water requirements and produce a thick, healthy lawn.


  1. We now live in Spokane, WA…a high dessert area.. we bought an older home and thus older grass we need to replace — what is suggested for this area? W