by High Country Gardens
Growing a Drought Tolerant LawnDuring our geologic past about 20,000,000 years ago, the weather became more arid and the North American grasslands originated as forest vegetation retreated to the north and south. In the Great Plains, the grasslands in the Midwest were comprised of tall grasses, while the Southwest had short grass prairies also comprised of shrubs and forbs. The vegetation that developed during and after the Ice Age of the Pleistocene was much the same as what the American Indians observed and later by European immigrants in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The book New Mexico Vegetation, Past, Present and Future by William Dick-Peddie describes the dominant grasses in the short grass prairies as:
- Bouteloua (Grama Grass)
- Sporobolus (Dropseed)
- Stipa (Silky Thread Grass), now known as Nassella tenuissima.
- Linum perenne Appar (Blue Flax)
- Ratibida columnifera "Mexican Hat" (Prairie Coneflower)
- Liatris punctata (Gayfeather)
- Nassella tenuissima (Silky Thread Grass)
- Sporobolus wrightii windbreaker (Los Lunas Form of Giant Sacaton Grass)
Following is a guide to their differences:
- Grama grass grows equally well in all soils from sandy to clay.
- Buffalo grass does well in loam and clay soils but is not recommended for very sandy soils.
- Grama grass can tolerate high elevations.
- Buffalo grass is not suitable for high mountain areas (over 6500 feet) with short cool summers
- Grama is easily established from seed.
- Buffalo grass is most successfully established by using plugs. Seeding buffalo grass can be a hit or miss proposition. It germinates very unevenly and will require a lot of work to repeatedly re-seed bare areas where the seeds didn't germinate.
WateringNative grass lawns, whether planted from plugs or seed, do require supplemental water to get established. Frequency of watering will depend on the type of soil, amount of rainfall and daytime weather conditions. However, once established, native grass lawns are remarkably drought tolerant. During times of natural drought and watering restrictions, native grasses will be much more likely to survive and look good than lawns of cool season grasses such as Kentucky Blue grass.
Detailed instructions on planting native grassesGoing native is water thrifty, requires lower maintenance, and is more environmentally appropriate for climates with limited rainfall. Beautiful examples of native grass lawns are all over. Visit a botanical garden in your area, go on a garden tour, or ask an experienced gardener where you can see examples. You'll be pleased with the appearance and hopefully you'll consider going native for your lawn.
Dog Tuff™ Grass (Cynodon ‘PWIN04S’) is an amazing, highly drought-resistant lawn grass perfect for high traffic and play areas. It has excellent durability in yards with dogs a...Learn MoreDog Tuff Grass Plugs Dog Tuff Grass Plugs Cynodon hybrida Dog Tuff$59.95Per Tray of 70Learn More
Dog Tuff™ Grass (Cynodon ‘PWIN04S’) is an amazing, highly drought-resistant lawn grass perfect for high traffic and play areas. It has excellent durability in yards with dogs and is resistant to yellowing from dog urine. Once established, this warm-season grass is highly weed resistant, deep-rooted and provides a soft, cushioned feel for bare feet. It only grows 2 ½-4 inches high, so you need not mow it unless you prefer a manicured look. 2015 Green Thumb Award Winner. We recommend using Organic Plant Magic as a root dip to spur grass plug growth. Questions? Download our Dog Tuff ™ Grass Planting Guide.
Hachita Blue Grama Grass Plugs (Bouteloua gracilis) is the most vigorous selection of this beautiful native grass from the western Great Plains. Beloved for its "eyelash" seed heads,...Learn MoreHachita Blue Grama Grass Plugs Hachita Blue Grama Grass Plugs Bouteloua gracilis Hachita$59.95Per Tray of 70Learn More
Hachita Blue Grama Grass Plugs (Bouteloua gracilis) is the most vigorous selection of this beautiful native grass from the western Great Plains. Beloved for its "eyelash" seed heads, it can also be mowed once a month to create a soft, inviting lawn. Quite xeric, 'Hachita' Blue Grama thrives in both sandy soils and clay! You can also interplant plugs with wildflowers to grow a colorful, low-care short grass prairie. For a turf type lawn, plant plugs 6" apart. We recommend using Organic Plant Magic as a root dip to spur grass plug growth. 4" tall (15" with seed heads).
Prestige Buffalo Grass (Buchloe dactyloides Prestige) is moisture and humidity tolerant, and outperforms all other varieties of buffalo grass in the southern and southeastern United ...Learn MorePrestige Buffalo Grass Plugs Prestige Buffalo Grass Plugs Buchloe dactyloides Prestige$59.95Per Tray of 70Learn More
Prestige Buffalo Grass (Buchloe dactyloides Prestige) is moisture and humidity tolerant, and outperforms all other varieties of buffalo grass in the southern and southeastern United States. Prestige Buffalo Grass has fine soft blades with a stunning green color. Prestige Buffalo Grass is considered drought tolerant, has extremely deep roots, and requires very little supplemental water once established. It grows to a height of 4-6 inches, so mowing is optional, and dependent on the look desired. It has exceptional disease and insect resistance and a very low pollen rating. We recommend using Organic Plant Magic as a root dip to spur grass plug growth.
Legacy Buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides Legacy) is a premium-quality native turf grass variety bred by University of Nebraska agronomists to be a drought tolerant, low care turf gra...Learn MoreLegacy Buffalo Grass Plugs Legacy Buffalo Grass Plugs Buchloe dactyloides Legacy$59.95Per Tray of 70Learn More
Legacy Buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides Legacy) is a premium-quality native turf grass variety bred by University of Nebraska agronomists to be a drought tolerant, low care turf grass with the lush look of traditional bluegrass or fescue lawns. We recommend using Organic Plant Magic as a root dip to spur grass plug growth. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric).
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