Jun 28, 2009

St. Augustine Grass Usage May Be Limited

Following are two articles about some Central Florida counties reviewing their landscape ordinances to save water.

Conserv-A-Store will comment on these stories in a future blog:

In these days of water conservation, public enemy number one in Lake County seems to be Saint Augustine grass and county leaders say they want it gone.Outside Lake County's new office building and parking garage there's a freshly planted strip of sod, which is a block-long and 18-feet wide. But some county leaders took one look and ordered workers to tear it out."A lot of it is public perception. People feel, see, Saint Augustine grass as a water hog," said Chris Patton, Lake County Spokesman.In a government effort to "go green," Saint Augustine is out. Eventually, it could mean the removal of grass planted years ago outside other county buildings."It can be expensive," said Patton.It cost Mount Dora more than $30,000 to replace the Saint Augustine in front of City Hall with Zoysia grass."Does it waste money to tear that stuff out of there?" asked WFTV reporter Berndt Petersen. "I don't think it's necessary," responded Keith Truenow, Lake Jem Farms.Truenow owns a 500-acre sod farm in Lake County. He says Saint Augustine grass does not require more water than other varieties. On his farm, they water just once a week."Public hype about Saint Augustine is over done right now," he said.Last year, the County Commission discussed banning Saint Augustine grass for any new development. They never actually voted on the matter, but grass growers like Truenow want to make sure it never happens.However, the Saint Augustine along the parking garage will go, replaced with less expensive Bahia grass that was planted on the other side of the new complex."It's not so much the plan to remove Saint Augustine just to remove it. It's to make our landscape plans more efficient so they use less water," said Patton.The developer building the complex has agreed to remove and replace the grass free of charge so taxpayers are off the hook. But if the county ever pulls it out in front of the old courthouse down the street, they'll have to pay.

Courtesy of wftv.com.

Orange County commissioners want to limit Saint Augustine grass it in the county.The commissioners voted earlier this week to start working on a new ordinance that could either ask homeowners to sell their grass back to the county or provide an incentive to homeowners to reduce water usage.Commissioners say Saint Augustine grass takes too much water to keep it green. Orange County had even considered banning it from new developments.Now, Orange County is developing a broader ordinance that would encourage everyone to replace it with different grass.The plan would offer incentives to homeowners who either cutback on water use or sell their Saint Augustine grass to the county. The county would offer free audits to businesses."People just pour tons of water on their lawns," said landscaper John Madison.Madison says the problem is not just thirsty grass; it's over-watering and sloppy maintenance."They have messed up irrigation systems. Timers are wrong. Heads aren't set up right," Madison said.Madison also says that a piece of Zoysia or Saint Augustine needs 25 fluid ounces water per day. A piece of Bahia grass, the same size, needs a quarter of what the Augustine grass needs."A lot of Bahia is mixed with other grass. It's basically your cow pasture grass," he said.It's also the cheapest grass residents can buy.Madison said residents may need ordinances to save water to help them make their lawns more efficient."There's so much waste. It's unbelievable," said Madison.The watering restrictions are the same across Orange County no matter what kind of grass a homeowner has.Even-numbered addresses may water only on Thursday and Sunday. Odd-numbered addresses may water on Wednesday and Saturday.Residents are never supposed to water between 10:00am to 4:00pm.

Courtesy of wftv.com

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