‘Drought-resistant’ grass could keep lawns green

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Water restrictions combined with recent triple-digit heat mean that your lawn is likely suffering this summer. But local scientists developed a special type of grass that is designed to weather our hot, dry summers – and save you money in the process.

Guy Thompson has lived in Westlake Hills for 46 years. He enjoys lazy afternoons harvesting wildflower seeds alongside his dog Shadow.

GOING IN-DEPTH // Hefty price tag for Habiturf

  • The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center charges $90 for a two-pound bag of Habiturf. That will fill out less than 1,000 square feet.
  • For $15, you can buy two, one-pound bags of Scotts Bermuda Grass Seed with water smart coating. Plus, that’s enough to cover about 2,000 square feet.

“I’ve been growing things like this for all of my life,” Thompson said, thumbing through the seeds. “I have more time for that if I’m not mowing this,” pointing to the new, native grass Thompson put in his yard two years ago.

“Native plants are native because they’ve learned to cope with our environment,” Thompson said. “Without us watering them, without us doing anything.”

This grass, which was made to survive Central Texas summers, was actually developed in our backyard.

Dr. Mark Simmons moved to Texas in the 90s, just as people began swapping their lawns for gravel. A man with a self-described passion for grass, he found what he says is a better solution – Habiturf.

“What we’ve got here is a mixture of four grasses,” Dr. Simmons said, standing in a field of Habiturf at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. “They’re all native. And some of them aren’t just native to Texas, some of them grow all the way up into Canada.”

Dr. Simmons says that although Habiturf has a different color and texture than traditional grass, it has significant benefits.

“The nice thing is, if the City tells you you have to stop watering, you won’t lose your lawn,” Dr. Simmons said.

And that’s a big plus for Guy and his grass.

“If you have a native plant, you can be much more confident that it will survive. Even if you forget to do something important,” Thompson said, chuckling.

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