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Extension focuses on smart use of water resources





Tuesday nights this spring have seen dozens of residents heading for the Kansas State University Agricultural Research Center to brush up on green skills during the Water Smart Landscape Series.

The final class, sponsored by K-State Research and Extension of Ellis County, the city of Hays, Ellis County Extension Master Gardeners and KSU Big Creek Middle Smoky Hill River Watershed, featured ideas on converting cool season to warm season grass and brought in nearly 80 attendees.

"We had good numbers each time," said Holly Dickman, Ellis County Extension horticulturist. "I was glad we had such a good turnout."

City of Hays Parks Director Jeff Boyle was on a mission to demonstrate the costs associated with cool season lawns during his presentation Tuesday evening.

"This is, hands down, the No. 1 most water-wasting practice that we do," Boyle said, speaking of planting cool season grasses. "Showers and baths and car washings, none of those things even touches a cool season yard.

"Not even close."

After Dickman outlined pitfalls and good practices for caring for lawns, Boyle took the stage to show how cool season grass stacks up against warm season grass.

"Fescue and Bluegrass aren't native to this area at all," he said. "They require significantly more water to survive.

"Long term water conservation practices need to go into effect now, not after it's too late."

Supplementing a cool season lawn of 9,135 square feet, figuring 5,663 gallons of water for each deep watering during last years' drought, likely would have averaged 368,096 gallons of water for the year, Boyle said. Contrast that, he said, to a warm season grass, which for the same size lawn, adequately could have been supplemented by 50,960 gallons of water.

The city's turf conversion program helps residents convert from cool season irrigated lawns to warm season lawns. To participants in the program, the city will provide buffalo grass seed. A rebate program through local businesses is under consideration but has not yet been implemented.

For more information on the turf replacement program, call the city of Hays Parks Department (785) 628-7375.