Cary's grass turf war

April 10, 2008 5:45:40 AM PDT
The town is offering incentives for homeowners to switch to warm-weather grass claiming it is more drought resistant.

Residents are being offered $500 to replace their fescue grass with what is considered drought-tolerant warm-season grass. It is all in an effort to conserve water.

Keaton Vandermark and two other growers took out an ad in the local paper to ask, "Did the town of Cary get it right?"

"To ask the people of Cary to switch variety of grasses simply in the name of water conservation is erroneous. Turf grasses don't waste water, people do," Vandermark said. "We feel that this is the viewpoint of a special interest and that they have a right to that view. The three people involved in the ad all raise both warm and cool season grasses, so it makes no difference.

Eyewitness News asked crop experts at NC State, familiar with Cary's turf buy-back program about the grass debate, and they say conserving water is not as simple as replacing a lawn with warm-season grass.

"It will actually, initially anyway, cost more water in the Cary area especially with all their shade trees, certain warm-season grasses wouldn't do well at all," Vandermark added.

However, the town of Cary says warm-season grass will save water in the long run.

"We were real curious to see this misrepresentation of our program, especially since they referenced a lot of the same technical experts that we used to develop the program," said Steve Brown with Cary Public Works. "We are doing what we feel is the right thing at the right time now but we're certainly keeping our eye on the long-term forecasts and updating our plans frequently."

The debate has taken root, and both sides are planning competing ads in the coming weeks.


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