Some green, some brown when it comes to lawns
This article was originally printed in the Appeal Democrat in Marysville, CA. Click here to read the story on appealdemocrat.com. Find our more about the water savings benefits of Reservoir DG by clicking here.
Story by Kirk Barron
The symptoms of drought are plain to see in the yellow and brown patches on lawns strained by twice-a-week watering throughout Yuba City.
Some homeowners are following the restrictions and going a step further by ceasing to water altogether, or replacing lawns with drought-resistant plants and groundcover.
And landscaping companies are feeling the effects of the shift in attitudes and regulations away from the luxury of soft green lawns. They're learning to adapt.
Barrows Landscaping co-owner Gene Barrows is receiving fewer orders for sod installations and is seeing an uptick in less water-intensive options. His company does design and installation, as well as lawn care and maintenance.
"People are either deciding to go all in and change out low-flow nozzles and adding products to hold moisture, or they're shutting off their water and letting their lawn die.
"We thought about maybe offering to paint lawns green, but that's a niche market," Barrows said. Instead, he found products that help soil hold moisture for a longer period of time, such as Reservoir DG, which is made by the Helena Chemical Company.
Reservoir DG is a biodegradable long chain polymer that helps soil hold water longer so grass roots have more time to use it, Barrows said. Barrows began offering it in May and recently went around to make a second application of the product, which biodegrades in about four weeks.
"So far, we're having pretty good success with it as far as having relatively good-looking lawns despite watering twice a week," Barrows said.
Orders for sod installation held steady in 2014 but fell by about 50 percent this year as the severity of the drought intensified, Barrows said.
Newly placed sod must be heavily watered for the first three or four weeks to get it established before the grass can handle being watered just twice a week. "California, culturally, loves their lawns. It's going to take a lot to change that," Barrows said. "But I think the interest is on pause, so we're just riding it out."
Watering twice a week can lead to stressed lawns, but it keeps the grass alive. No water for two or three weeks can kill the grass, Barrows said.
For more efficient watering, Yuba-Sutter Master Gardener Program representative Heidi Hudgins recommends watering for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, taking a short break, and turning the sprinklers back on to reduce runoff and allow for deeper absorption. The roots of mature grass reach 6 to 8 inches into the ground.
"Lawns are unfortunately getting a bad rap because they use a lot of water," Hudgins said. "But they're aesthetically, for your animals and kids, nice to have."