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Resource Conservation Using Native Turfgrasses in the Northern Plains

Project Number: 
Project Duration: 
30 months
May 1, 2005 to October 31, 2007
Institution of Principle Investigator while on this project: 
South Dakota State University

Investigators (most current known information)

Associate Professor/Extension-Turf Grass Specialist, Department of Horticulture, Forestry, Landscape and Parks, South Dakota State University, Brookings SD 57007
TEL: +1-605-688-5138, FAX: +1-605-688-4713, Email:
Professor, Department of Horticulture, Forestry, Landscape and Parks, South Dakota State University, Brookings SD 57007
TEL: +1-605-688-4729, FAX: +1-605-688-4713, Email:

Proposal Abstract

Concern over limited water resources in the dry lands of the western U.S., including South Dakota has increased in recent years due to a prolonged drought and increased demand. Although 60% of domestic water supplies are consumed by residences, most homeowners seem unwilling to sacrifice residential turf quality for water resource conservation. Increasing homeowners' share of direct water costs or enacting lawn watering restrictions through legislation has not made a significant impact on reducing long term water demand. The goals of the project were to increase public awareness of the economic and environmental costs to maintain poorly adapted turfgrass species in dry land ecosystems, educate consumers about the benefits of native turfgrasses as alternative turf species, and effect a change in consumer preferences leading to conservation of finite resources. To achieve the goals, demonstration sites were constructed at two locations, an interactive kiosk and internet website were developed, and handouts and publications were produced. Four objectives were achieved: 1) development and implementation of an innovative demonstration and associated education media, 2) increased consumer awareness about water and energy conservation, 3) demonstrated economic benefits to clientele with reduced-input, native species turf, and 4) reduction in turfgrass inputs leading to water and energy conservation. Although changing overall consumer preferences to accept reduced-input turf is challenging, projects demonstrating economic and ecological benefits using innovative educational methods are worthwhile.


Articles in Journals

Schleicher. L.C. 2008. Reducing turfgrass water use conserves resources. South Dakota Water Resources Insitute Newsletter: 4(1).


Schleicher, L.C. and W.C. Johnson. 2008. Resource conservation using native turfgrasses in the Northern Plains. South Dakota State University. 10 July 2008.


Support for this project came from the USDA Cooperative Research, Education, and Extension Service