City Of Greeley
 

Water Saving Grasses

Everybody loves a lawn. Green, thick, beautiful grass is a standard feature in front of homes, but some grasses need a lot of irrigation to stay healthy in Colorado 's semi-arid climate. Sample plots of water-conserving turf grasses can be seen at Xericscape demonstration gardens in Greeley.

Before you read the descriptions of the grasses here are a few terms that will be used throughout this page..

Sod-Forming Grass: This type of turf will spread and eventually form an interwoven mat of grass.

Bunch Grass: This grass does not spread, because each grass plant remains separate from its fellow plants.

Cool Season Grass: This turf type turns green in late March and stays green till November.

Warm Season Grass: This turf turns turn green in mid-May and stays green till September.

To conserve water and keep your grass green consider one of the following water-saving turf grasses:


Blue Grama
(Bouteloua gracilis)

Description: A warm-season, bunch grass with flat blades, 1-2 mm wide. Color is blue-green, texture is fine and soft during periods of active growth.

Height: 4-6 inches; mow to 2 ½ inches just a few times during the growing season or just once in the fall. Slow growing.

Watering: 15 minutes (½ to ¾ inch) every 2 weeks during hot, dry spells.

Sun/Shade: Likes full sun, not shade tolerant.

Traffic: A fair to good tolerance of traffic during periods of active growth.

Planting: Seed 2-3 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn, or as instructed by seed supplier. Available as sod in a blue grama/buffalo mix. Planting season is mid-May to mid-July.

Comments: This Colorado Native tolerates compacted soil and sand, but requires more irrigation in sand. Does not like over fertilization--fertilize lightly once per year.

See this grass at: UNC/COG Garden bed #7
Buffalo Grass
(Buchloe dactyloides)

Description: A warm-season, sod forming grass with fine blades. Color is blue-green, texture is fine and soft during periods of active growth.

Height: 4-8 inches; mow to 2 ½ inches a few times during the growing season or not at all for a meadow look.

Watering: 15 minutes (½ to ¾ inch) every 2 weeks during hot, dry spells.

Sun/Shade: Likes full sun; newer varieties such as“609”, “Texoka”, and “Prairie” are fairly shade-tolerant.

Traffic: A fair to good tolerance of traffic during periods of active growth.

Planting: Seed 2-3 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn, or as instructed by seed supplier. Available as sod in pure buffalo grass or in a blue grama/buffalo mix. Also available as plugs. Planting season is mid-May to mid-July.

Comments: This Colorado Native tolerates compacted soil and sand, but requires more irrigation in sand. Does not like over fertilization--fertilize lightly once per year. Grows more slowly than bluegrass.

See this grass at: UNC/COG Garden bed #11 ‘609' variety

COG/WD Garden along Reservoir Road ‘legacy' variety


Crested Wheat
(Agropyron cristatum “Fairway”)

Description: A cool-season, bunch grass with medium blades. Color is blue-green, and the texture is soft.

Height: 1-2 ½ feet; mow to 3 inches

Watering: Water each zone approximately 15 minutes every week - (¾ inch) during hot dry spells.

Sun/Shade: Tolerates both sun and shade.

Planting: Seed 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn, or as instructed by seed supplier. (Note: forms sod if seeded heavily) Planting season is mid-March to mid-September.

Comments: The “Fairway” and “Ruff” varieties are the most successful in forming turf. “Ephraim” requires less water, but is less attractive as turf.

See this grass at: UNC/COG Garden bed #5

COG/WD Garden-West end North of Sidewalk

Indian Ricegrass
(Achnatherum hymenoides)

Description: Native cool-season medium sized bunch grass.

Height: 1 to 2 ½ feet tall; with numerous elongated leaves; mow to 3 inches.

Watering: Mulching and supplemental irrigation are helpful for rapid soil stabilization. Water each zone for 15 minutes every two weeks.

Sun/Shade: Not shade tolerant.

Planting: Seed 5 to 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Fall dormant planting helps germination.

Comments: Thrives on loose, coarse sands and silty soils, very drought resistant.

See this grass at: UNC/COG Garden bed #8
Sideoats Grama
(Bouteloua curipendula)

Description: Warm season, bunchy sod-forming grass. Bluish-green, drying brown.

Height: 1 to 3 feet; mow to 3 inches

Watering: Irrigation aids in getting started. Water each zone 15 minutes every two weeks.

Sun/Shade: Tolerates sun and shade.

Planting: Plant 4 to 8 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn.

Comments: Adapted to a wide spectrum of sand to clay soils; but less tolerant of loose sands and heavy clays.

See this grass at: UNC/COG Garden bed #6
Smooth Brome
(Bromus inermis)

Description: A cool season, sod-forming grass with wide blades. Color is gray-green to blue green.

Height: 2-4- feet; mow to 3 inches for a formal lawn look.

Watering: ½ inch every week during hot, dry spells.

Sun/Shade: Tolerates both sun and shade.

Planting: Seed 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn, or as instructed by seed supplier. Planting season is mid-March to mid-September.

Comments: Grows rapidly, and may invade flowerbeds and vegetable gardens if left unattended. Tolerates compacted soil. Can be left unmowed and used on “natural” grassland plantings in areas where irrigation is impossible.

See this grass at: UNC/COG Garden bed #19


Streambank Wheatgrass
(Elymus lanceolatus)

Description: Cool-season, long lived sod grass with narrow leaf blades, mostly blue-green.

Height: 12 inches tall; mow to 3 inches.

Sun/Shade: Moderate shade tolerant.

Traffic: Great tolerance in high traffic areas.

Planting: Seed in early spring; requires 5.5 to 11 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn.

Comments: Remains green for much of the summer. Requires little maintenance. Most common on medium to coarse-textured soils, but adapted for seeding on clay soils.

See this grass: along 20th Street and 42nd Avenue at Virginia Hills entrance.
Switchgrass
(Panicum virgatum)

Description: Medium-tall, warm season, long-lived patchy sod grass. Light blue-green color, leaf blades are wide, flat or folded and have orange colored foliage in the fall.

Height: 2 feet long; mow to 3 inches

Watering: Light irrigation can speed establishment. Water 25 minutes every two weeks.

Sun/Shade: Tolerates both sun and shade.

Planting: Plant 2 to 4 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Plant from April to May.

Comments: Winter hardy; new seedlings need protection from grasshoppers; primary species of the Midwest tall grass prairies.

See this grass at: UNC/COG Garden bed #9
Turf Type Tall Fescue
(Festuca arundinacea)

Description: A cool-season bunch grass. Color and texture vary from variety. In general, color is similar to bluegrass, with slightly wider blade.

Height: 2-4 feet; mow to 3 inches.

Watering: ¾ inch every week during hot dry spells.

Sun/Shade: Tolerates both sun and shade.

Traffic: Good tolerance for high traffic.

Planting: Seed 6-8 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn, or as instructed by seed supplier. Available as sod. Planting season is mid-March to mid-September.

Comments: Prefers uncompacted soil. Tends to be more disease and insect resistant than bluegrass. The varieties ‘Arid', ‘Titan', ‘ Mesa ', ‘Tribute' are particularly pest-resistant while varieties such as ‘Bonanza', ‘Bonsai', ‘Rebel Jr.' and ‘Trailblazer' are lower growing and require less frequent mowing.

See this grass at: UNC/COG Garden bed #23

COG/WD Garden-behind the fence at the Reservoir

Zoysiagrass
(Zoysia spp.)

Description: Warm season grass.

Height: Requires close mowing 1-1 ½ inches and can become thatchy.

Watering: Will survive on 1/4 inch of water per week, a little additional water will give the lawn a more uniform look.

Planting: Available as plugs, not usually seeded, sod not available in Colorado.

Comments: Difficult to get established, but invasive and nearly impossible to eradicate once established. The cultivar Meyer is the only available variety with adequate cold tolerance. Not recommended for Colorado especially when introduced to a lawn via the use of plugs.