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As cities across the country face increasing drought and water restrictions, many homeowners are switching to more drought-tolerant grasses.
You spend a lot of time and money on your lawn and don’t want it to wither in dry, scorching conditions. With climate change making rain unpredictable, you may want to select drought-tolerant grass for your yard.
Read on to find the best type of drought-tolerant grass for you, the benefits of planting drought-tolerant grass, and other ways to increase the sustainability of your garden.
Drought Tolerant Lawn Grasses
Lawns can use a lot of water, and during periods of drought, landscaping is often the first target for water restrictions. Luckily, there are drought-tolerant grasses for all hardiness zones — a useful metric the USDA uses to determine which plants will thrive in which regions.
These drought-tolerant grasses will keep your garden green whatever the weather.
Buffalograss is the only grass native to North America used as a lawn, making it perfect for homeowners who prefer to grow native species. This warm-weather grass takes its name from American bison, which eat it as fodder.
Buffalo grass is one of the most heat and drought-tolerant grass species. Historically it is perfect for grasses in the western prairies and plains, but cultivars have been developed to expand its regions of adaptation.
Varieties: Legacy (Zones 3-6), Prestige (Zones 5-9), Bison, Bowie, PlainsCare: Best planting time is late spring or early summer.
Proper watering is important during planting, but once established it can survive without watering and should only be watered to prevent a dormant period or to sustain grass growth.
Buffalo grass has a low density, so there is a risk that it will compete with weeds. over-fertilize or use products not labeled for buffalo grass. Buffalo grass is more expensive than other types of grass due to the difficulty in harvesting seeds. Seed packets cost about $8 an ounce.
- Read Also:Yellow Grass: Causes And Treatment
2. Prairie Dropseed
Prairie Dropseed is a unique ornamental grass native to the Great Plains, although it is also found in parts of the Midwest and Northeast. This hardy, warm-season weed spends the winter turning a beautiful bronze color, and in the summer it produces tiny pink and brown flowers with a scent reminiscent of licorice or popcorn.
USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-9 Varieties: Tara, Morning Mist
Prairie Dropseed tolerates both drought and intermittently wet conditions. Once established it requires very little maintenance aside from removing old leaves in spring and does not pose serious pest problems.
It is difficult to start from seed and is often grown from seedlings or divisions. A pack of 12 seedlings costs about $30.
3. Kentucky Bluegrass
Kentucky bluegrass is less drought tolerant than other fescues, but its ability to become dormant under stress helps it handle drought with reduced watering.
Varieties: Due to its long history of development, Kentucky Bluegrass has hundreds of cultivars including Galaxy, Merion, and Windsor.
Kentucky bluegrass is particularly drought tolerant when young, but thatch accumulation reduces its hardiness. Can be combined with other drought-tolerant grasses to improve lawn health and shade tolerance. Kentucky Bluegrass seeds cost about $7.50 per pound.
Zoysiagrass is a drought-tolerant, warm-season grass that does particularly well in transitional zones where grasses are exposed to brutal heat and cold. It thrives with little maintenance and occasional watering and tolerates cold, heat, and shade.
Varieties: Meyer, Zenith (Zones 6-7); Cavalier, Zorro, Emerald, El Toro, Zenith, Zeon (Zones 8-10)
Zoysiagrass takes longer to establish than other grasses, but once established requires less mowing and repairs.
Full sun is best but will tolerate shade. Zoysiagrass grass costs an average of about 50 cents per square foot.
5. St. Augustinegrass
St. Augustinegrass is a shade tolerant warm season grass. Native to the Gulf Coast, it forms a lush, blue-green lawn with dense turf. It has a high salt tolerance, making it ideal for coastal regions.
It is also drought tolerant and does not need watering until it shows signs of stress.
Varieties: Palmetto, Floratam, Raleigh, Mercedes, Bitterblue, Jade
St. Augustine grass can be high maintenance and should be mowed to the recommended height and fertilized regularly. It is susceptible to winter injuries and bed bug damage. St. Augustine grass typically costs about 80 cents per square foot to install.
- Read More: 5 Best Grasses For High-traffic Yards
6. Blue Fescue
Blue fescue is also known as sheep grass and is prized for its drought tolerance and beautiful silvery-blue to blue-green color. It stays green all year round in temperate climates.
Blue fescue is a versatile plant that thrives in many conditions and can be grown in rock gardens, rain gardens, or as a landscape border.
USDA Hardiness Zones: 4-9 Varieties: Elijah Blue, Sea Urchin, Boulder Blue
Blue fescue can be short-lived in moist soil and areas of high temperature. It should be pruned back to 3 or 4 inches in spring to remove dead foliage and allow for new growth. “Boulder Blue” blue fescue plants are available for about $15.
7. Bermuda Grass
Bermuda grass can be considered a suitable choice for the lawn or a problematic weed depending on the needs of your garden. In agriculture, it is considered a pest of crop fields and vineyards and is difficult to eradicate due to its deep rhizomes and seed production.
As grass, however, its resilience makes it attractive to homeowners in warmer climates. Bermuda grass is native to tropical and subtropical regions and thrives in heavy rainfall but can survive in dry climates with a little extra watering.
Its ability to dormant and produce seeds under stressful conditions helps it survive extreme droughts. USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-9
Varieties: Sunturf, Tiff lawn. Bermuda grass requires a lot of nitrogen in its soil, so you should apply fertilizer.
With frequent mowing and proper fertilization and watering, Bermuda grass produces a dense, dark green lawn. However, it produces a lot of pollen. Bermuda grass seed costs between $7 and $10 per pound.
8. Red Fescue
Red fescue is a cool season grass that requires little maintenance and thrives in shade and cool conditions. It’s the perfect companion to Kentucky Bluegrass and may go dormant in the summer due to drought.
USDA Hardiness Zones: 1-7 (perennial); 8-10 (annual)
Varieties: creeping red fescue, chewing fescue
Care: Red fescue does not need a lot of fertilizer or water. It should be cut relatively high. While it does well in the shade, cold, and drought, it has poor heat tolerance.
Cost: Red fescue seeds cost about $7 per pound, while chewy fescue seeds cost about $6 per pound.
- Read Also: Why Dog Pee Kills Grass – How To Stop It
9. Bahia Grass
Bahia grass is a warm-season grass native to South America and particularly common in the southeastern United States. Its deep root systems and abundant seed production make it tolerant of drought, shade, and poor drainage, and it is also resistant to many pests. and diseases.
Varieties: Common Bahia Grass, Pensacola Bahia Grass
Bahia grass should be planted in spring to avoid the worst of weed competition and take care to maintain weed control during establishment. A five-pound bag of Bahia grass seeds is available for around $35.
10. Fountain Grass
Fountain Grass offers an elegant appearance, with clumps of drooping leaves and inflorescences that sway in the wind. Prefers dry soil in full sun, making it an excellent choice for a drought-tolerant garden, but will also thrive in partial shade and most soil conditions.
Varieties: Foxtrot (Zone 4), Cassian (Zones 5–6), Redhead (Zones 5–6)
Fountain grass can become invasive in warmer climates and have difficulty surviving in rainy years. It is recommended to divide and replant the clumps every three years to rejuvenate the plant, although smaller ones may not need it. A 1-gallon pot of weed costs about $25.
Why Drought-tolerant Plants?
As California’s climate becomes hotter and drier, it’s important to switch to plants that are more drought-tolerant and less water-dependent. Choosing California native plants that are already accustomed to California’s dry climate offers several advantages to homeowners.
From rebates to helping with the transition to money saved on irrigation, shifting to a drought-tolerant landscape is a growing trend for Californians. A great resource is a Water-Wise website
Gardening in Ventura County is co-funded by many cities and water boards including Thousand Oaks. Native plants and some street trees thrive with watering a day a week or less, but some require additional watering when planted.
Planting them now, be sure to choose species that require minimal watering if planted recently. If you want to keep the look of a real lawn and are looking for alternatives that use a lot less water than traditional grass, check out the following two articles on low-water grass varieties that stay green.
Frequently Asked Questions About Drought-Tolerant Grasses
Which grass is more drought tolerant?
Known for its dense, dark green leaves, Bermuda grass is touted as the most drought-tolerant warm-season grass. As a low-water user, you only need 1 to 1.25 inches of water per week from rain or irrigation to stay green.
What is the most wear-tolerant grass?
High fescue is not only resistant to high traffic but also adapts to changing temperatures and water availability. It is one of the most drought-resistant grass varieties. Fescue would do better in northern climates.
Which herb requires the least maintenance?
Red fescue is the most popular low-maintenance grass in the cool season. Hard fescue and fine fescue mixes require very little maintenance. You only have to mow the lawn once or twice a year. naturally repels weeds so you don’t have to worry about fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides.
Is long or short grass better in dry conditions?
Longer grass keeps the ground cooler and that means you don’t use as much water.
What Makes Grass Drought Tolerant?
The latter means that a plant can survive for a long time without water.
How does grass stay healthy when it’s dry?
To keep your lawn healthy in dry conditions, reduce fertilization, water deeply and less frequently to encourage longer root growth, and mow to the highest recommended height.
Does taller grass survive drought better?
The recommended height increases the leaf area to encourage more photosynthesis, allowing the weed to better withstand periods of stress such as drought.
If you’re wondering about the perfect drought-tolerant grasses for your yard, a professional can provide you with information on the best options for your area and your lawn’s needs.
If you’re looking to add drought-tolerant accents to your yard, check local ordinances first. In Nevada, a new water conservation law now bans the use of ornamental grasses in office parks, housing developments and road verges.
However, you’ll save water and keep your front yard cool with these hardy ornamental grasses.