Drought Tollerent Turf-like Grass

Asked March 9, 2020, 4:21 PM EDT

Looking for a grass mix which can be watered weekly once established, can be mown like turf, and does equally well in shade or sun.

Larimer County Colorado

1 Response

Hi, and thank you for your question. Above, at the top, is a link to a PlantTalk article located on the Extension website. The first part of your question can be answered by Kentucky Blue Grass. Here is a quote from the above linked PlantTalk article : "Astute observers learned a few things about Kentucky bluegrass during recent drought periods. First, it can remain green and healthy with far less water than most people ever thought possible. Second, it can survive well for extended periods of time without any irrigation due to its excellent dormancy mechanism. Bluegrass can do well with reduced amounts of water. Homeowners discovered that twice weekly watering restrictions would produce healthy bluegrass lawns. Even once weekly watering was adequate for all but the warmest summer periods, once established. Many bluegrass lawns can survive weeks – even months – without any supplemental irrigation, if it is an established bluegrass lawn. Bluegrass is still the best grass species for many of the places it is growing - and a drought resistant one at that." The emphasis on established is my addition. You did not say if you already have a lawn and are looking to change it out, or if you do not have an established lawn and are looking to seed or sod. You also did not say how heavy the shade is. It is difficult to find a drought-tolerant as well as shade-tolerant grass. Most drought tolerant turfs (for example, Buffalo Grass) prefer sun. Buffalo Grass likes a very sunny location. Above, the second link is to another PlantTalk article about Growing Grass in the Shade.
To obtain the best possible results in shady areas, use shade-tolerant grass mixes. Varieties of chewing fescue and creeping red fescue tolerate light shade quite well. Tall fescue has moderate shade tolerance and some varieties of Kentucky bluegrass have fair shade tolerance. However, keep in mind that if you plant fescues for their shade tolerance, they are not going to have the drought-tolerance of the Kentucky Blue Grass. Pay attention to water needs. If the lawn has to compete with a large tree for soil moisture, the area may become overly dry. In heavy shade, it may be more practical to use ground covers or a wood-chip mulch with shade-loving perennials. It is difficult to answer your question thoroughly without knowing if you have an established lawn already and are looking to replace it, or if you are looking to seed or sod a new lawn, but I hope the links to the above articles will help. Many more articles about turf can be found on the Extension website, (third link above) or if you want to reply back with more details, perhaps I can give a more tailored answer to your question.