Are we about to experience a “green revolution” on our lawns? Probably not, but it’s possible that the coming years will bring new grass varieties that use less water and still look lush and green. The biggest trend in residential turf grass is to get rid of it! More and more homeowners are taking out turf and replacing it with low water use plants and ground cover. To do this some people have been forced to battle with their homeowners’ association, alter restrictive covenants, and generally try to change the culture, which places a high value on green grass.
Gazing into the crystal ball, here are some possible future trends to watch out for!
- Genetic engineering - The genetic engineering of food crops like tomatoes and corn are well publicized. The genetic engineering of turf grass is a reality. The Proceedings of the 71st Annual Michigan Turfgrass Conference held from January 15-18, 2001 include an interesting article on the genetic engineering of bentgrass for putting greens. If it were not for controversy over genetic engineering in general, genetically modified bentgrasses could be available to the consumer by 2003. The genetic engineering of grass is a reality and could have impacts on the future of residential turf. The Michigan State University Turfgrass Information Center has the largest on-line library of information on turfgrass and turfgrass research in the U.S.
- Native grasses – Planting locally produced native grasses is increasingly popular and with good reason. Native grasses should grow using only the available rainfall and may require substantially less maintenance. These grasses may not be suitable for all applications such as ball fields and parks, but they may be an excellent option for residential applications.
- Mulching mowers – Hardly a new technology to be sure, but mulching mowers are becoming increasingly popular. If your mower mulches as it mows it means much less work emptying clipping bags and raking endlessly. Expect these mowers to become the residential norm.
- New landscape regulations – In water scarce regions some water providers are starting to restrict the amount of turf that can be installed for each new house. This also requires the re-writing of some homeowners’ associations landscape covenants that require turf grass lawns at all houses. New regulations will encourage low water use Xeriscape.
- More organic fertilizers – Americans use a lot of chemicals on their lawns, but there is a growing trend away from chemical fertilizers. Expect to see growth in the use of organic lawn fertilizers in the coming years.
- Water shortages – Look for water shortages across the U.S. to dramatically impact residential turf. As water gets more scarce so will turf. Large scale graywater reuse projects for irrigation will become more common.