Following my rant about the “Super Lawn” article in the LA Times, I received a comment about an interview by Patt Morrison with the same turf specialist, Jim Baird, on a new turf grass he is developing. Hard to believe it was the same turf grass specialist. The LA Times article focused on genetically modified plants, while in the interview with Patt Morrison, Mr. Baird said the grass he is developing is an intergeneric hybrid – a cross between fescue and rye grass – not anything genetically modified (in the way that term is typically used today).
It is hoped that the new turf grass will use 1/3 to 1/4 of the water used by typical cool season grasses. Cool season grasses (rye, fescue, Marathon) use more water than warm season grasses (St. Augustine and Bermuda ). Warm season grasses, though, go dormant – or at least less green – in cooler weather. My St. Augustine doesn’t go brown in winter, though the Bermuda does, even if it gets water. So the interest in the cool season grasses is to get something that stays green all year in So. Cal.
Mr. Baird, also in response to Patt’s question, states that the grass they are developing is not invasive. Since it will still require a significant input of water, especially during the summer, it isn’t likely to get around like Bermuda does. I would hope, though, that this is carefully studied. We wouldn’t want to see this grass cropping up along with the vinca and cape ivy that are muscling out native plants along waterways.
So I am not sure what to make of the LA Times article. The Patt Morrison interview painted a very different picture. Still, less lawn is better than what we have now, and of course, using less water, fertilizers and pesticides on the lawn we keep, is better than not.