By Jim Klett, professor, Colorado State University Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture
Non-turf groundcovers versus Kentucky bluegrass: Which uses less water?
It's a popular notion that groundcover plants use less water than Kentucky bluegrass. A research project conducted by Colorado State graduate student, David Staats and supervised by Cooperative Extension Landscape Plant specialist Jim Klett, provides some new insight on this subject. Staats undertook the project, with the knowledge that 90 percent of lawns in the Denver area are Kentucky bluegrass and, in residential areas, lawns and landscapes account for 50 percent of water used. While we assume that groundcover plants use less water, we have no definitive studies to prove it.
Staats compared Kentucky bluegrass "Challenger," with groundcovers snow-in-summer, creeping potentilla and goldmoss sedum. Irrigation treatments were based on 100 percent, 75 percent, 50 percent, 25 percent and 0 percent ET rates. Water was applied every third day and information measuring growth, visual quality and soil moisture was collected every nine days. Here are the findings:
Photos: Judy Sedbrook
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Date last revised: 01/05/2010