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February 18, 2012

Choose appropriate turfgrass varieties based on your location and ordinances in your municipality.

Yard and Garden
February 18, 2011

Q.

My lawn was severely damaged last year and I want to replace it with a grass that is more likely to survive in the Santa Fe area. What grass variety should I consider planting?

Robby T.

A.

Last year was extremely severe, so changing your type of lawn grass may not be the solution. Extreme years are going to do damage. However, after a lawn has been damaged, you have the chance to consider what variety of grass you prefer to have in your lawn. In your area there are several grass varieties to consider, each with its benefits and its liabilities. If you live within the Santa Fe city limits or in nearby communities with similar water conservation ordinances, be sure to choose your grass variety in keeping with the requirements set out in Santa Fe’s Comprehensive Water Conservation Requirements which can be found at http://www.santafenm.gov/index.aspx?NID=2562 While not prohibited, use of Kentucky bluegrass is limited to no more than 25 percent of a seed mixture or sod planted in the city limits. Other cool season grasses are discouraged because they use more water. This is because they have a longer active growing season during which they must be watered and are often less efficient in their use of water. Texas bluegrass requires less water than Kentucky bluegrass, but it would be wise to check with city officials to see if it falls under the same restrictions. Cool season grasses are the hardiest grasses, but in the Santa Fe area may not be a good choice for you. Warm season grasses are preferred for water conservation, though they have some limitations regarding traffic tolerance and their ability to recover when injured. Buffalograss and blue grama grass are native, prairie grasses that can tolerate winter cold, summer heat, and limited water availability. However, during the growing season, they may require nearly as much water as a cool season grass to provide adequate soil coverage and appearance. Their shorter growing season, however, greatly reduces their annual water use. While you may be able to successfully grow Bermudagrass, your northern, high altitude location, may create some problems. Choose varieties carefully if you choose to grow Bermudagrass. As you consider various grasses, read NMSU Extension Service publication Turfgrasses for New Mexico, available at http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h/h-508.pdf or from your local NMSU Cooperative Extension Service office. This publication describes the various lawn grasses used in New Mexico and provides information useful to all New Mexico gardeners when choosing a turfgrass variety. Your local NMSU Cooperative Extension Service agent can provide guidance as you choose a grass for your area and guide you through local regulations and ordinances that may affect your choice.

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension publications Web site at http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h, or to read past articles of Yard and Garden go to http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/periodicals.html

Send your gardening questions to :

Yard and Garden, Attn: Dr. Curtis Smith
NMSU Agricultural Science Center
1036 Miller Rd.
SW Los Lunas, NM 87031

Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist emeritus with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.