The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense® program released a report back in 2009 presenting data to support the position that limiting turfgrass can result in significant water savings of up to 54%.
There have been many research studies to show that landscapes with a higher percentage of turf use more water than those landscapes planted with a mixture of other shrubs, trees, and groundcover (that are regionally appropriate). Turfgrass species have a much greater evapotranspiration, meaning that there is a higher loss of water during the processes of soil evaporation and plant transpiration. It takes more water to keep these species alive. Also, because property owners strive to keep a uniform appearance of their turf areas more overall water is used. In a planter area, less water can be used while still maintaining an “acceptable” appearance because of the drought tolerance of woody and perennial plants. Lastly, turf areas are often over-watered in the attempt to treat certain “dry spots.”
In conclusion, the WaterSense ® Single-Family New Homes Specification provides the option of a specified landscape water budget on projects or a standard turfgrass allowance of 40 percent of the total landscaped area.
For more information visit www.epa.gov.