The implementation of sustainable landscapes should be a goal in all regions of the country; however, severe droughts and limited water in the southern and western U.S. are dictating changes to the use and placement of plant material and irrigation in landscapes. Therefore, there is a critical need for turfgrasses that can provide functional surfaces tolerant to drought, reduced irrigation, and irrigation with reclaimed (saline) water. Failure to address these challenges will result in losses of areas planted in turfgrasses, along with their economic, environmental and social benefits. This transdisciplinary group from six universities was formed in 2010 to address the above problems by developing turfgrasses with reduced irrigation requirements. To date, our group has released six improved cultivars for three of the four most economically important turfgrass species grown in these regions.
The levels of improvement of our six released cultivars are promising and substantiate the need for continued quantification of their reduced water use. This, alongside education and outreach efforts to increase their adoption will maximize the economic and environmental impact of these grasses.