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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - July 02, 2012

From: Rifle, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Drought Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Replacement for Kentucky grass in Colorado
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What kind of grass to replace "Kentucky grass"? It uses too much water. Need drought tolerant grass for the Rifle, Colorado area ("zip code is 81650"). Water bill is way too high, pushing over $100.00 a month.

ANSWER:

Poa pratensis (Kentucky bluegrass) with its high water requirements is definitely not the grass you want to have in Colorado's dry climate.  Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) is the grass for you.   Please read our article Native Lawns: Buffalograss.  Buffalograss, once established, requires little water and little mowing.  Until it is established you will need to do some watering and you will need to keep ahead of the weeds by pulling them and mowing.  Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama) is another grass with similar properties that you can plant along with buffalograss.  Native American Seeds in Junction, Texas sells a seed mix called Native Sun Turfgrass that contains 80% buffalograss seeds and 20% blue grama.  Here is more information on blue grama as a turf grass from Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Service.  Since Rifle, Colorado is at about 5,000 feet, however, the Texas mix may not be the best choice.   The Colorado State University Extension's article on Buffalograss Lawns suggests several varieties that are better adapted to the lower temperatures associated with higher elevations, such as Legacy.

 

From the Image Gallery


Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

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