Water conservationwith xeriscape principlesCareful plant selection can help reduce irrigation needs.Ronald C. Smith, Ph.D....
continued        from    p.   61              instances, the superintendent can select                                    ...
Any discussion of drought-tolerant             in full sun and is less prone to winterconifers must include junipers. Rock...
continued      from    p.   63            Deciduous trees                                                 Depending on loc...
Asters are important xeric perennials with summer and early-autumn bloom. These sturdy plants will not tolerate wet, poorl...
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Water conservation with xeriscape principles Careful plant selection


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Water conservation with xeriscape principles Careful plant selection

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Water conservation with xeriscape principles Careful plant selection

  1. 1. Water conservationwith xeriscape principlesCareful plant selection can help reduce irrigation needs.Ronald C. Smith, Ph.D. For a golf course to succeed, it must leaf fescues do well on local rainfall pat-use water. But irrigation doesnt need to terns, going dormant during droughtcover every inch of the golf course, and and recovering when precipitationthe savvy superintendent can score returns to normal.political points with neighbors, activists Other grass species are adapted toand the media by taking a few steps various climates around North Americato save water using principles of xeric and would be appropriate for waterlandscaping. conservation or xeriscaping. Meyer Xeric landscapes represent a con- zoysiagrass is strong in the South andscious attempt to develop plantings Midwest. Sharps buffalograss is gainingthat are compatible with the environ- strength in the Southwest. The Midwestment. Xeric landscaping may require a continuedchange in styles as well as plant materi-als. Any changes in plant materials atyour golf course should be precededwith a proper plan, plant selection andplant placement.Start at the clubhouse The clubhouse is a good startingpoint. If it is surrounded by bentgrassthat is mowed to almost putting greenheight, why not change it to a speciesthat will require less water? On a north-ern course, consider blue grama(Boutelouagracilis) or a tall fescue culti-var (Festuca arundinacea). Other possibilities include the manyfine-leaf fescues, such as red fescue(Festuca rubra), sheep fescue (F. ovina)and chewings fescue (F. rubra var. com-mutata). These can be used in poly-stands with common Kentucky blue-grass cultivars (such as the tough,drought resistant Kenblue) or as a With proper plant selection, the golf course can remain attractive without consuming exces-monospecies. In many areas, these fine- sive amounts of water. Golf Course Management. June 1998 61
  2. 2. continued from p. 61 instances, the superintendent can select has fairway crested wheatgrass and the clones from parental lines adapted to Northwest has colonial bentgrass. dry xeric conditions. This would give While the greens, tees and fairways the superintendent trees or shrubs with must remain unaltered for client more uniform physical characteristics. satisfaction, the roughs can support grasses with lower water requirements. Evergreens Remember that the actual rate of water Evergreens offer a fair palette of use will depend on the soils water-reten- plant selections for xeric areas of the tion ability, the depth of the root system course. Colorado spruce (Picea pun- and day-to-day environmental factors, gens) is hardy, adaptable and drought- as well as the species and cultivar in use. tolerant. These characteristics, com- Maintenance also matters. In non- bined with its distinctive pyramidal critical use areas, attempt to get golfers form, make it one of the most highly to accept grass mowed a little taller. It prized conifers across the United States. will make a big difference in reducing Another close relative, the white spruce water requirements. (P. glauca), is used widely in the plains because of its adaptability. Xeric plant selections Although similar, these two spruces For xeric settings around the course, are not identical in form, especially as try to obtain plants whose parent stock they mature. Many Colorado spruce came from an ecosystem similar to cultivars will retain the tight pyramidal those on your golf course. shape throughout life, while the white For example, if bur oak (Quercus spruce will tend to open and spread macrocarpa) is selected for a site sus- somewhat with maturity. ceptible to drought, use trees that orig- The Black Hills variety of white inate from upland locations rather than spruce, P. glauca var. densata, is slower bottomlands or river valleys. In some growing than the Colorado variety, with a dense, conical form that endures until the tree reaches 20 to 30 feet tall. It is tolerant of heat and drought. If a golfers shot should go wild and land in a spruce, the white and Black Hills would inflict much less pain during retrieval than a Colorado spruce because the needles are softer. Pines suitable to dry locations include Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris), Norway pine (P. resinosa), lodgepole pine (P. contorta var. latifolia) and mugo pine (P. mugo). Scotch pine will form a very attractive tree in soils that are too sandy for most other species, and the exposed orange bark of the mature tree makes a striking addition to the summer and winter landscapes. Mugo pine is often seen as a shrub in foundation plantings and eventually gets as wide as it does tall. With simple pruning each spring - breaking or trimming off new candle growth - theWildflower mixes are one of the most attractive ways to go xeric on a golf course. From spring plant can be maintained as a dense,through summer, they can offer a variety of color and form. drought-tolerant shrub.62 Golf Course Management. June 1998
  3. 3. Any discussion of drought-tolerant in full sun and is less prone to winterconifers must include junipers. Rocky die-back than the more commonMountain juniper (Juniperus scopulo- golden pfitzer juniper (J. x mediarum) must have dry conditions to per- Pfitzerana Aurea). For vase-shapedform well, making it one of the best can- forms, use cultivars of the savin juniperdidates for prairie golf courses. It grows (J. sabina). Their nice feathery form15 to 20 feet tall, is hardy throughout ranges from 12 to 36 inches in height.most of USDA zone 3 and has four goodcultivars on the market: Larch• Blue Haven, a broad pyramidal form The various larch species (Larix spp.) with silvery blue foliage offer the benefits of both deciduous and• Medora, a narrower form, a dense evergreen forms of plants. The needle- growth habit with blue green foliage like foliage that emerges in the spring is• Moffetti, a dense, pyramidal form a fresh, bright green that turns a bright with gray-green foliage golden yellow in the autumn just before• Welchii, a dense, pyramidal plant defoliation. The species are very adapt- habit with silver-green foliage able to a wide range of conditions, from For ground cover and shrub forms, boggy sites to upland plantings that arelook to creeping juniper (J. horizonalis) low in natural rainfall and have no seri-cultivars. An outstanding one is J. hori- ous insect or disease problems.zontalis Depressa Aurea that develops a continuedclear golden yellow foliage when grown Flowers for saving water Here are several herbaceous flowering plants that may thrive under reduced irrigation: Botanical name Common name Notable quality Agastache rupestris (P) Licorice rryint or sunset hyssop Soft orange flowers that attract hummingbirds Cleome hasslerana (A) Spider flower or c1eome Tall and wind-resistant; good for background plantings Datura spp. (A) Angels trumpet White flower, velvety foliage; can get 3 feet by 3 feet in size Gaillardia pulchel/a (A) Gaillardia or blanket flower Good for bed borders and cut flowers Gaillardia grandiflora Goblin (P) Gaillardia Very heat tolerant; looks best with occa- sional watering Gomphrena globosa (A) Globe amaranth Good button-like flowers for cutting/drying Nepeta x faaessenii Select Blue (P) Blue catmint Sterile - no worry about it becoming weedy Penstemon strictus (P) Rocky Mountain penstemon Tall (24 inches) showy blue flowers Perovskia atriplicifolia (P) Russian sage Large (4 feet tall, 3 feet wide) with grey, aromatic foliage, smoky blue flowers. Xanthisma texanum (A) Star of Texas, sleepy daisy 2-3 inch yellow daisy-like flowers A = annual; P = perennial .. Golf Course Management • June 1998 63
  4. 4. continued from p. 63 Deciduous trees Depending on location, these four One of the most drought-tolerant species are your best choice: deciduous trees is the green ash 1. decidua. This European larch is a (Fraxinus pennsylvanica). It also rates large-growing species with a broad, high in salt tolerance, ease of trans- pyramidal form becoming wider and planting and speed of establishment. more irregular as it matures. Select from seedless cultivars to prevent Possessing graceful, pendulous weedy seedlings from sprouting all over branches, it is an excellent tree for the course. Some of the better cultivars large open spaces. It is hardy adapted to the upper Midwest are: throughout zone 3. • Bergeson, a fast-growing, hardy 1. kampferi. The Japanese larch has a cultivar that is a good choice where similar appearance to the European space is limited, has an upright oval larch, but it is hardy only to USDA crown and a straight trunk . zone 4. • Dakota Centennial, a strong central 1. laricina. The American or tama- leader with dark green foliage and a rack larch is found from Alaska to globe shape Pennsylvania. It is attractive in mass • Kindred; a fast-growing, strong cen- plantings . tralleader with a rounded crown 1. siberica. The Siberian larch • Marshalls Seedless, another good, Grounds workers and out- arrived from Siberia and is native to vigorous male clone (seedless) that of-bounds golfers will enjoy Black Hills spruce because the epitome of xeric landscapes - has attractive yellow fall color its relatively soft needles dry, cold and windswept - making it • Prairie Dome, a new cultivar with a inflict few scratches. The the best adapted species for such a dense oval crown becoming more tree also tolerates some- what dry conditions . landscape setting. rounded with age • Prairie Spire, a rapid-growing form with a compact, broad colum- nar to narrow pyramidal crown with Maintenance of xeric plantings good fall color All of these are very hardy, but green ash is overused in many residential and city landscapes, which leaves urban Many established plantings can be made more xeric (to require forests vulnerable to decimation by a less water) by following a few steps: single plant disease. Avoid cultivars that have been heavily planted in your com- 1. Dont create lush growth by over-fertilizing or over-watering. munity and attempt to get multiple cul- Do both these practices to meet the needs of the plants, nothing more. tivars if this species is one of your con- siderations. 2. Xeric means the wise use of water, not the total lack of it. When Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) is a water is applied, perhaps by drip irrigation, put it where it can be long-lived, stately tree that, once estab- most efficiently used - deep in the root zone. lished, is fully adapted to an environ- ment susceptible to drought. Be sure to 3. Be generous with organic mulches. Using 2 to 4 inches of bark, give this tree plenty of room to grow, chipper debris or compost to cover the soil around the base of the though - its height and spread can plant will help control weeds (big water robbers) and conserve reach 80 feet. water already in the soil. Smaller trees that could provide nice accents to any golf course landscape are 4. Look for ways to cut down on unnecessary turf areas, and make sure that flower beds beside turf are shaped with smooth, free- found in the tatarian and amur maples flowing lines for easy mowing. (Acer tataricum and A. ginnala). Both grow to about 15 to 18 feet in height, have little to no problems and provide good fall color, especially if the cultivars of the amur maple are selected. All are64 Golf Course Management • June 1998
  5. 5. Asters are important xeric perennials with summer and early-autumn bloom. These sturdy plants will not tolerate wet, poorlydrained soils. Most, like this Aster ceduifo/ia, provide a beautiful bloom.hardy through zone 3. Both can also be angular bark extensions or "wings" are the an information and education effort.used attractively in planters or patios basis for the common name. The standard Take every opportunity to educatearound the clubhouse. species will reach 6 feet tall and have bright and inform golfers and neighbors via red fall color, while dwarf cultivars will signs, seminars, press releases andDeciduous shrubs reach about 3 feet in height. They do not board meetings. Arm yourself with data One of the best shrubs for xeric have noticeable flowers. and information to ensure you canlandscaping is the potentilla or cinque- For blooms, turn to lilacs. The sell your ideas to your critics, skepticsfoil (Potentilla fruticosa), a very durable Chinese lilac (Syringa X chinensis) and and employers .•shrub that produces sulfur-colored, the late lilac (S. villosa) will both reachorange or white flowers from early 10 feet tall and be covered with fragrant References 1. Dirr, M. 1990. Woody landscape plants. Stipessummer until frost. The species has very blooms in mid spring. Publishing Co., Champaign, Ill.few insect and disease problems, The wayfaring tree viburnum 2. Ellefson, c., T. Stephens and D. Welsh. 1992.reaches no more than about 3 feet in (Viburnum lantana) is another Xeriscape gardening. MacMillan, New York. 3. Proctor, B. 1996. Xeriscape plant guide.height and makes a dense shrub with- drought-tolerant beauty that produces Denver Water and American Water Worksout pruning. It can be used as a low. creamy-white flowers, followed by col- Association. Denver, Colo.hedge or in foundation plantings orful fruit (yellow, red and black - 4. Smith, R.C. 1997. Xeriscape plant selections and ideas. Extension Publication No. H-957,around the clubhouse. This plant does often all at once) that attracts the song- North Dakota State University, Fargo (onlinerequire full sun, as it tends to perform birds. Give it room to grow as this at http://www/ag.ndsu.nodak.edul).poorly in shade, where it becomes vul- species can exceed 10 feet in height and 5. Still, S.M. 1988. Manual of herbaceous orna- mental plants. Stipes Publishing Co.,nerable to powdery mildew. The seed have an equal spread. Champaign, Ill.and leaves that remain through the win-ter are attractive to over-wintering birds End at the clubhousefor food and shelter. Regardless of how successful you may The winged euonymus, also known as be at saving water and beautifying the Ronald C. Smith, Ph.D., is extension horticulturistburning bush (Euonymus alatus), is almost course, your attempts to go "xeric" will and turfgrass specialist at North Dakota Stateas durable as the potentilla. Its unique go unappreciated unless you put forth University. Golf Course Management • June 1998 65