Since it is starting to get a little bit warmer, this is a good time to talk about how you should water your lawn to keep it healthy and, at the same time, help save water. There are many types of grass for lawns. Each type of grass has a different texture and different water needs.


Types of Grass:

  • Kentucky Blue Grass is a favorite for lawns but is commonly thought of as a grass that requires lots of water to grow well and look nice and green. This isn’t necessarily true, however. It is a fine-textured grass that greens up early in the spring and holds up well to the heat of summer (June-August). It will go dormant if it does not have enough water but it won’t die out. Kentucky Blue Grass hold up well to high traffic so it is a good choice for use in a play area.
Kentucky Blue Grass
Kentucky Blue Grass
  • Buffalo Grass is a fine textured perennial grass native to the Great Plains. It does not green up as early in the spring and turns brown earlier in the fall than many other species. It is very drought-tolerant, however, so it does not need very much water even during the heat of summer. Over-watering will encourage other species like Bermuda grass and other aggressive grasses to invade the lawn and out-compete Buffalo Grass. It is not well suited for high traffic areas or shaded site.
Buffalo Grass
Buffalo Grass


  • Tall Fescue has a coarser texture than Kentucky Blue Grass but has found wide acceptance as a lawn grass. It is well-adapted to a variety of soil and climate conditions and is fairly drought tolerant. It does not recover well from wear so bare areas may be a problem unless it is reseeded.
Tall Fescue
Tall Fescue


    • Fine Fescue is finer textured than Tall Fescue but none of the fescues tolerate wear and tear well. Fine Fescue is very shade tolerant but tends to take on a brown haze if conditions are dry. It grows very slowly so does not require much fertilizer.
    Fine Fescue
    Fine Fescue


    • Frequently, blends of fescues and bluegrass are used for lawns.

    Water Needs:

    • The water needs of each types of grass are different. Kentucky Blue Grass needs 26 inches of water annually, Fescues needs 20 inches of water annually, and Buffalo Grass needs 17 inches of water annually (1).

    How to Water:

    • If you want to have a Kentucky Blue Grass lawn there are ways that you can get it without having to use so much water. One of the best ways that you can have a nice green lawn is by watering your lawn by the “soak and cycle method.” This sounds more complex than it really is.


    • The first step is to water a section of your yard for about five minutes and then turn the hose off and let the water soak into the ground for about ten minutes or so. Then turn the water back on for another five minutes and then back off. Repeat this for your entire lawn. The benefit of watering your lawn this way is that it promotes deep grass roots. This will make your lawn more drought-tolerant because it will have a larger root system to draw moister from. Another benefit in having a deeper root system is that the lawn will out-compete annual weeds that might grow up in the lawn because annual weeds have very shallows root systems.


    • The soak and cycle method of watering can be used for any type of grass. It will greatly reduce the amount of water needed for your lawn. This method can also be used with sprinkler systems it is just a matter of programming the systems.


    Fertilizing of the Lawn

    • The fertilizing of your lawn is also important element in determining how much water it will need. If you fertilize your lawn during the heat of the summer it will grow more and will require more water during that time because it is actively growing. Your lawn will already need more water because of the heat during the summer months so you should choose instead to fertilize your lawn in the fall. Fertilizing in the fall will help to replenish the nutrients that were used up during the active growing season and will give the grass roots a healthy start for winter dormancy. One other key thing to know about fertilizing your lawn is that you can reduce the amount of fertilizer needed if you do not bag up your grass clippings but instead let the clippings stay on the lawn. This gives your lawn back the nutrients within the grass that you cut. You may need to mow your lawn a little more frequently to keep it looking trim, but adding organic matter to it will make for a much healthier lawn.


    Mowing the Lawn

    • Reducing the amount of water that your lawn needs can be affected by how you mow your lawn. The best way is set your lawn mower to the highest setting because this allows the grass more surface areas to photosynthesize and will, therefore, enhance root growth. Mowing your lawn like this keeps weeds from out-competing your grass since weeds do not do well if they are constantly being mowed.



    (1) Whiting, David E. The Science of Gardening. 2006




    Cacti are good house plants to consider because they are very low maintenance. Just because they do not take a lot of water does not mean that they don’t need water.

    One type of cactus to consider is Astrophytum capricorne or goat’s horn, which is gray and spineless. They like warm temperatures but need to have good air flow (1). Another type is Cephalocereus, or columnar cactus. There are many species of columnar cactus, and they all require at least four hours of direct sunlight per day. They also need to be watered whenever the soil is dry (1). There are also several other types of cactus to consider.

     Goat’s horn                                        Columnar Cactus                                        


    Goat’s horn                                          Columnar Cactus


    In general, cacti need to have direct sunlight for at least four full hours per day.

    Watering and Fertilizing

    Water only when the soil is completely dry and fertilize with house plant fertilizer only once a month (1).

    Temperature and Pests

    They need temperature at 60 to 85 degrees (1). Cacti are extremely prone to spider mites.


    (1) Clark, David E. Ed. How to Grow House Plants.Sunset Books, Menlo Park, CA 1976


                            Green Shamrock          Purple Shamrok

                              Green Shamrock                 Purple Shamrok 


    Saint Patrick’s Day is coming soon (March 17th) so a few words about the shamrock seems appropriate. The Irish word for clover is seamaróg, which means “clover.” (3)

     Plants sold as shamrocks in this country are generally those from the Wood Sorrell Family and are not clovers at all, but rather are from the genus Oxalis. (4) They are grown from bulbs. A bulb is the underground part of the stem that is used as storage device for the plant.  The leaves of shamrocks close during the night, folding up into a tepee. They have small white, yellow, purple or rose flowers(1). Most shamrocks come from Africa and South America (2).

                          Green Shamrork at night             Purple Shamrock        

                        Green Shamrork at night             Purple Shamrock at night


    Shamrocks require a sunny spot (1), though they will do okay with some shade. 

    Watering and Fertilizing

    Water heavily in the growing season; then water only as needed (1) the rest of the time.Fertilize the shamrock every two to three weeks with regular house plant food when it is actively growing (2).

      Temperature and Pests

    Shamrocks prefer 65 degree to 75 degree  temperatures but can go down to 50 degrees at night (2). They do not have many pest problems.

    (1) Clark, David E. Ed. How to Grow House Plants.Sunset Books, Menlo Park, CA 1976.

    (2) Swinford, Rachel. Fact Sheet on Shamrock, Four-leaf Clover, Oxalis. Cobb County Extension Service.



    A Good House Plant is a Spider Plant

    The scientific name for a spider plant or air plane plant is Chlorophytum comosum (1). The reason that it is of some importance to know the scientific name of your plant is that some plants have many common names so it can be confusing to find more information on your plant.

    Spider plants are native to the tropics (1). These plants have long slender leaves that tend to hang over the side of the pot. The leaves of this plant can come in either green, green with white edges, or white with green edges. The flowers of spider plants are rather plain because they are small and are white. One of the best features of this plant is that it produces miniature duplicates of itself that can be potted up to give you a new plant (1).

                 Spider plant with other house plant                     Green Spider Plant                              

    Spider plant with other house plant      Green Spider Plant


             Miniature Duplicates                 Just planted Duplicate

         Miniature Duplicates                 Just Planted Duplicate  


    The spider plant prefers to have indirect light because its leaves can sunburn (2). This means that they are quite shade tolerant so this is one plant that can also live happily in your office. Spider plants may be grown out doors as annual or even as a perennial in certain parts of the world (3).

     Watering and Fertilizing 

    These plants need watered only when they are dry. Fertilize only when the plant is actively growing, that is, when they are putting out new leaves, flowers or duplicates (2). The fertilizer you choose can be any type that is recommended for house plants. All fertilizers will have numbers on them like 15-20-15. This means that there are 15 parts potassium within the fertilizer mix (the first number). Potassium is a nutrient that plants require in order to flower.  The 20 means that there are 20 parts nitrogen (which helps the plants leaves grow) and the last 15 means that there is phosphorus (which promotes root growth).

     Temperature and Pests  

    Spider plants prefer to have the temperature about 65 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and a little cooler at night (2). They are relatively pest free except when they are over watered but they may prone to spider mites.


    (1) Clark, David E. Ed. How to Grow House Plants.Sunset Books, Menlo Park, CA 1976.

    (2) Prepared by Russs, Karen and Pertuit, Al “HOME & GARDEN INFORMATION  CENTER” Http://

    (3) “Plants of the UNF CampusHttp://