As water becomes scarcer and more expensive, finding ways to conserve water becomes even more important, and making lawns more drought-resistant is one way to do so.
According to Dustin Coufal, Williamson County extension agent for agricultural and national resources, the best drought-resistant grasses for Central Texas include buffalo grasses, many hybrid Bermuda grasses and some zoysia.
Grasses that can go dormant and “green-up” once a drought ends can be useful in Texas heat. James McAfee, extension turfgrass specialist of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Dallas, said that while all grasses will do so to some degree, buffalo is the best, while common Bermuda grass and some varieties of zoysia grasses were also good.
Michael Thane, Round Rock director of utilities, said watering in the morning is the best time to do so.
“We see heavy uses between 3 [a.m.] and 4 [a.m.] in the morning, and I think that’s when most sprinkler systems are set,” Thane said.
The city currently recommends a twice-a-week voluntary schedule to cut down on any unnecessary watering.
However, that schedule may impact the often shallow or clay soils that make up much of the area, McAfee said.
“It’s unfortunate, but in those situations, [people with shallow soil] should really water more often with less water,” he said. “But when cities go to once-a-week water, there isn’t the opportunity.”
Ideally, water needs to seep 4–
6 inches into the soil, McAfee said. However, clay soils and shallow soils make that difficult, and there really is not much homeowners can do, he said.
Auditing irrigation systems to make sure they are working efficiently is also recommended. The City of Round Rock offers free audits to check for issues such as leaking or misaligned sprinkler heads and offers a rebate for those who address problems while updating their irrigation systems.
“The mowing is the key,” McAfee said. “Most people mow too infrequent and too low.”
McAfee recommends setting mower blade levels higher and taking off 30 percent to 40 percent of the leaf blade, which, he said, allows for a more extensive root system.
However, he added, that could mean mowing grasses like Bermuda twice a week in the summer heat.
Round Rock officials also recommend the reuse of grass clippings by leaving them on the lawn to serve as a free mulch.