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Be Seen in Green: The Future of Drought-Tolerant Grass

shutterstock_82752859-600x400Preservation of natural resources remains a big topic in multifamily, enough that discussions about reducing energy and utility use typically fill a session or two at education conferences.

Not long ago, an industry executive mentioned her company was being a good steward of the environment and eliminating lawns with concrete in the same breath as retrofitting lights in common areas. The comment resonated that a lawn-less property would save water and money. Maybe even at the expense of the apartment community’s appeal.

Saving water on your landscape – typically through xeriscape or landscapes with drought-tolerant, colorless plant life – doesn’t necessarily mean it has to come at the cost of a green lawn. Behind the scenes of some the nation’s foremost horticultural university programs, grasses that can withstand drought and heat are being developed at a rapid pace.

They are giving hope for those of us in rain-starved regions that a nice, green lawn can exist without guzzling water and ultimately becoming a casualty of local water restrictions.  Bermuda, St. Augustine, Zoysia, buffalo grass and even Kentucky Blue Grass hybrids are getting more and more drought tolerant as universities like Texas A&M, Clemson and Georgia Tech dig into new grass strains.

At A&M AgriLife Research center in Dallas, turf specialists recently unveiled a new variety of St. Augustine that has shade tolerance and deep roots like one of the more popular varieties of the grass that is much more finicky. DALSA 0605 has shown excellent response to drought stress because of its longer roots that penetrate the soil and get moisture where other varieties cannot.

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