Rethink your winter lawn and skip overseeding to save water, money, and time
By AMWUA Staff
During a historic drought, changing climate, and Colorado River shortages, one simple but impactful way to save water outdoors and be part of the solution is to skip overseeding (planting a winter lawn).
To help promote this initiative's importance, AMWUA cities are providing information on the benefits of not overseeding this winter to their residents. Additionally, the cities have engaged with HOAs to encourage them to limit or forego overseeding non-essential grass areas within their communities. One HOA in the City of Scottsdale conducted a trial by not overseeding in 2021 and saved 1.5 million gallons of water and thousands of dollars in winter grass seed. Some communities like the Town of Gilbert and Scottsdale are leading by example and adjusting their own park schedules by not overseeding this fall.
How much water can you save by not planting a winter lawn and skipping overseeding? The answer is a significant amount of water. It's estimated that over the course of the season, overseeding requires 8,000 gallons of water for 1,000 square feet of winter grass for the season, while a dormant lawn uses only 500 gallons. The City of Goodyear is promoting these water savings to their residents. It should also be noted that most people who overseed experience a much higher water use spike, which is reflected on their utility bill. This water use may be higher than in the hottest summer months due to the overapplication of water for seed germination and winter growth.
Overseeding can stress your Bermuda grass, so giving it the rest it needs will give you a more vibrant spring renewal. Also, substantial time, effort, and money are required to establish and maintain winter lawns; you will save money on grass seed, fertilizer, and water, not to mention cutting down on maintenance such as mowing and weed pulling. All these benefits are in addition to the water that will be saved.
If you are willing to skip overseeding but want to extend the current green of your grass, the City of Chandler has offered some helpful tips.
- While Bermuda grass typically goes dormant in the cold months, extending the length of its growing season and lush green appearance well into winter is possible. The University of Arizona turf specialists recommend multiple applications of iron (2-4 oz of actual iron per 1000 square feet).
- Apply the first application around October 1, the next ten days, and follow up again after another ten days. Do not apply nitrogen fertilizers. Remember that even dormant Bermuda needs a ½ inch of water per month during the winter (from U of A Turf Tips).
Conservation actions are more vital than ever as pressures on our water supplies increase. When we are all more efficient with our water, it enables water providers to maximize and stretch all of their water supplies – this is crucial when dealing with the consequences of a historic drought and the Colorado River shortage. By skipping that winter lawn, you can help save millions of gallons of water that will benefit you and your community's future.
Additional information on drought-tolerant and water-efficient landscapes, available rebates, and workshops can be found by visiting your city's conservation web pages. Links can be found HERE.
For over 50 years, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities' ability to provide assured, safe, and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information, visit www.amwua.org.