AUSTIN (KXAN) - If your yard isn't looking as lush as it typically does this time of year, it might not be the lack of rain but the type of grass that's in your yard.
For the last year researchers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center have been testing various types of grass to determine what can grow best in our hot and dry climate.
"We can still have our lawns," said Mark Simmons, research scientist with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. "You don't need to tear it out and have gravel and cactus. You can have a lawn, but we have to think about how to do them right."
For the last year, that has been Simmons' job.
As a research scientist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, he tested multiple types of grass to see what would make the best lawn.
The idea was to use grass species found in the native prairie lands, since extra water or fertilizer isn't needed.
"They are perfect turf grasses, but we needed to test them to see if they would stand up to the rigors of the normal lawn," said Simmons.
It's rigors such as water, weeds and foot traffic.
"The way we did that was by running a small golf cart over it 10 times a week," said Simmons.
In the end, they discovered using a combination of buffalo grass, curly mesquite and blue grama seeds created the ultimate lawn. The fine grass leaves make for a denser turf.
"And we found where we had this native mix of species, we had fewer weeds as well," said Simmons.
And that was even with adding in dandelion seeds.
"The secret to a good turf grass is actually the soil," said Simmons. "You really want to get a good six inches of loose soil with a bit of organic matter and a good quality compost, and then put your seed on top of that."
In order to properly create this lawn, it means tearing out the grass that is currently covering your lawn and starting from scratch.
Once it's established, you'll only have to water once a month. And since it grows slow, you'll mow it less than 10 times a year.
"We want an ecological lawn, not one on life support," said Simmons.
The researchers compared the native grasses to Bermuda grass in their test. To find out how you can grow the native grass that the scientists created, click on this link .
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