By Shane Markham

Rocky Mountain Sod Growers

LONGMONT – Lack of education and understanding concerning the true water needs of turfgrass is contributing to continued water conservation issues, wasteful watering practices, and the unnecessary removal of grass from the environment according to Rocky Mountain Sod Growers (RMSG) President, Shane Markham.

“For years individuals have been over-watering their lawns based on bad habits and bad information,” says Markham. “Because most individuals do not know the actual water requirements of turfgrass, and the natural growth cycle of turfgrass, many tend to overwater their lawns. This adds to the myth that grass is too ‘thirsty’ compared to other plants. What we know is that grass is drought resistant and the best choice for land cover in our arid climate, particularly as we see fire danger increasing. Many xeriscape landscapes are providing tinder for fires as the climate warms up. We’ve got to get this right. Encouraging the removal of turf simply indicates the lack of education most people have about its place in the environment and its actual water usage.”

Because turfgrass has been scientifically studied for many years, it is known how much water grass actually needs. Bluegrass lawns are the most common in Colorado. Dormant in winter, bluegrass starts growing in the spring. However, because it is highly drought-tolerant, bluegrass may return to dormancy during the heat of mid-summer as part of its normal process. Homeowners who do not understand this cycle over-water in an attempt to keep the greenest grass on their side of the fence.

Proper ground prep is essential for new sod installation. Remove weeds and debris. Establish a rough grade and eliminate low spots. Spread and rototill a minimum of 3 cubic yards of organics per 1,000 square feet at least 4 inches deep. Level and rake the installation site until it is smooth. Grade areas along sidewalks and driveways approximately 3/4 inches below top of concrete. Be sure you have on site hoses and sprinklers for the initial watering. Make sure the sprinkler system is performing properly. Understand the operation of your sprinkler clock for proper watering of the new sod and established lawn.  Proper ground prep ensures that the roots of the plant can go deeper, thus saving water.

RMSG experts emphasize that bluegrass lawns will thrive on less than one inch of water per week during the growing season. This has been demonstrated through many scientific studies. Water needs change in the fall and winter.

“Individuals wishing to install sod, or maintain their lawns without wasting water, need to be informed,” notes Markham. “The RMSG members are the experts. We provide a free educational website that is full of information concerning watering tips, requirements, and much more. We highly encourage people to visit and learn more about how they can have a great lawn that increases their property values and benefits the environment without wasting precious water.”

For more information, visit