Landscape irrigation frequency restrictions are commonly imposed by water purveyors and municipalities to curtail domestic water use and to ensure adequate water supplies for growing populations during times of drought. Currently, published data are lacking concerning irrigation frequency requirements necessary for sustaining acceptable levels of turfgrass quality of commonly used warm-season turfgrass species. The objective of this 3-year field study was to determine comparative turfgrass quality of drought-resistant cultivars of four warm-season lawn species in the south–central United States under irrigation frequency regimes of 0, 1, 2, 4, and 8× monthly. Turfgrasses used in the study were based on previously reported drought resistance and included ‘Riley’s Super Sport’ (Celebration®) bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.], ‘Palisades’ zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica Steud.), ‘Floratam’ st. augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze], and ‘SeaStar’ seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum Swartz). During each growing season, slightly reduced irrigation volumes and bypassed events resulted from the 8× monthly treatment (34.95 cm, 38.13 cm, and 27.33 cm) compared with the 4× monthly treatment (35.36 cm, 40.84 cm, and 28.70 cm) in years 1, 2, and 3, respectively. For the once weekly treatment, the average fraction of reference evapotranspiration (ETo) supplied by effective rainfall and irrigation during the summer months was 1.22, 0.67, and 0.83 in years 1, 2, and 3, respectively, and was generally adequate to support acceptable turfgrass quality of all warm-season turfgrasses evaluated. Under the less than weekly irrigation frequency, st. augustinegrass and seashore paspalum generally fell to below acceptable quality levels because the average fraction of ETo supplied by effective rainfall and irrigation during the summer months of years 2 and 3 was 0.51, 0.39, and 0.26 for the 2× monthly, 1× monthly, and unirrigated treatments, respectively. Bermudagrass generally outperformed all other species under the most restrictive irrigation frequencies and also did not differ statistically from zoysiagrass. These results show that as irrigation frequency is restricted to less than once per week, species selection becomes an important consideration.
As the need for landscape and golf course water conservation increases, use of low-quality irrigation water combined with deficit irrigation practices is becoming more common. Information is lacking concerning the effects of water quality on bermudagrass response to deficit irrigation, as well as the extent to which plant growth regulators may ameliorate or delay the negative effects of water stress on warm-season turfgrass. The objectives of this 10-week greenhouse study were to 1) characterize growth, quality, and evapotranspiration (ET) of ‘Tifway’ bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon × C. traansvalensis Burt Davy) when irrigated at full (1.0 × ETa) or deficit (0.3 × ETa) levels of actual turfgrass evapotranspiration (ETa) using three irrigation water sources [reverse osmosis (RO), sodic potable, and saline] and 2) determine whether application of trinexapac-ethyl (TE) could mitigate turfgrass quality decline under deficit irrigation. Results indicated that turf irrigated with sodic irrigation water exhibited significantly elevated ETa and shoot growth compared with turf receiving RO or saline irrigation water in both studies. Irrigation water source affected turfgrass quality differently at each irrigation level. TE application improved turfgrass quality and/or delayed firing under soil moisture stress in both studies, with the greatest benefit noted under the less intense conditions of the spring experiment. Elevated canopy temperatures were observed within all deficit irrigation treatments, regardless of water chemistry. Results demonstrate that irrigation water quality may influence turfgrass ET rates. In addition, they suggest that trinexapac-ethyl may offer short-term mitigation of drought stress under deficit irrigation.
Low-quality (i.e., impaired) water sources are commonly used to irrigate warm-season turfgrass landscapes as a result of limited supplies of potable water sources. Currently, there is great need to define the impacts of impaired water sources on turfgrass water consumption, growth, and quality. The objectives of this study were to characterize actual evaporation (ETa), clipping production, and quality of three hybrid bermudagrass varieties [‘TifTuf’, ‘Tifway’, and ‘Midiron’; Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. × C. traansvalensis Burtt Davy] grown under three water sources [reverse osmosis (RO), local well, and recycled], each supplied at full irrigation levels (1.0 × ETa) over two 8-week study periods. When pooling across water source and date, TifTuf maintained the highest visual quality and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) compared with both Midiron and Tifway. This was accompanied by a greater daily ETa rate, clipping production, and water use efficiency (WUE) compared with Midiron in both studies. When pooling across variety and date, daily ETa of turfgrass receiving recycled water was 5% to 10% less than those receiving the local well or RO water. In addition, turfgrasses receiving local well water held the greatest visual quality and NDVI compared with those receiving either RO water in the summer study. Visual quality and NDVI were also less in turfgrasses receiving RO water compared with those receiving local well or recycled water in the fall. Despite turfgrasses having a lower ETa under recycled water in both study periods, these plants had significantly greater clipping production compared with RO water in the summer. Also, clipping production under recycled water did not differ significantly from the other two sources in the fall study. Furthermoe, in both studies, WUE was similar for turfgrasses receiving recycled water compared with those receiving RO or local well water. Results demonstrated that irrigation water quality influences critical factors for hybrid bermudagrass growth and that considerable variability exists among three commercially available varieties for evapotranspiration rates, quality, and clipping production.