Cool Season Grass


It’s been decades since Wichita has experienced a devastating drought that occured between 2010 and 2013. This drought left it’s legacy: water will cost everyone a lot more money, causing many changes in the way we manage our landscape. There are only two water sources:

City Water: Homeowners relying completely for water from the city have been affected the most. Changes will continue. Rates have gone up and will continue. There is a good chance restrictions could come someday.

Well Water: Except for the cost of the well, water has been free for well owners. It would be unrealistic to expect this to continue. Many wells have dried up, or water levels have dropped requiring well owners to dig deeper. Eventually meters on all wells will be required; this is already the case for wells irrigating more than two acres.

Days of indiscriminate copious use of water will eventually come to an end in Wichita. Homeowners with cool season grasses and/or a lot of water using landscape will be faced with difficult decisions. It has always been a core tenet that CustomWise Turf & Tree uses the least amount of pesticide to manage pests in your lawn and landscape. This is called Integrated Pest Management (I.P.M.). Now we must consider something more important: Integrated Water Management (I.W.M.).

Listed below are 5 strategies:

1.)    Do nothing- carry on. There are many fescue purists who will resist change. Continue to water as you have. This will become very expensive for city water users. Well owners may not have to be concerned – for now.

2.)    For fescue purists who may not be able to water (If there are restrictions), then your option is to: water when you can and accept damage and repair in fall. You may have to do this most years. CustomWise offers a variety of services to repair your lawn.

3.)    A significant number of cool season lawns have warm season grasses encroaching into them. For many, this has been a problem. CustomWise suggests taking a different view, and welcome warm season grass to take over sunny areas of your lawn. This approach is more drought tolerant and requires less water.

4.)    If you don’t have warm season grass in your lawn, planting some in sunny areas, and allowing it to spread, can help save water (Note: Homeowners living in covenant areas may not be able to do this – check with your Homeowners Association).

5.)    The most dramatic way to reduce water use, and still have a lawn, is to change to warm season grass. They require a fraction of water compared to fescue, and if you don’t water, they only go dormant. It is expensive to convert, and you must have sun on your lawn at least 80% of the day. Warm season grasses will not grow in shade.

Regardless of drought or water restrictions, getting a cool season lawn through a Wichita summer has always been a challenge. Enclosed is additional information from K.S.U to save water. The link above is the watering information I’ve provided for 20 years. This water schedule is to keep a fescue lawn green through summer but this may not be an option for everyone. CustomWise is always available as a resource to work with you to come up with ways for you to save water . . . . and remember we offer seeding services to repair your cool season lawn in fall.

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