Expanding the Success of Salt-Tolerant Roadside Turfgrasses through Innovation and Education

Principal Investigator(s):

Eric Watkins, Professor, Horticultural Science


  • Sam Bauer, Former Assistant Extension Prof., UM Extension

Project summary:

This project was based on the need to water new roadside installations more efficiently to ensure that the turfgrasses, especially the new salt-tolerant mixes, establish more successfully with a predictable and uniform amount of water during the establishment period. The first objective of this project was to do a preliminary investigation of alternative means of irrigating new installations of salt-tolerant seed and sod mixtures. Researchers completed the testing of four drip-tape-style irrigation systems placed both above and below sod, two above-ground sprinkler system configurations, and eight water truck nozzles. The research team then evaluated these new irrigation methods compared to current practices. Researchers also developed an online voluntary training and education program for installers of roadside turf. And finally, the research team developed online maintenance training for homeowners to maintain new roadside turf installations. Based on this research, the team recommends the use of 18-inch (45.7-cm) irrigation tape laid above the germination blanket (when seeding), or above sod when using a hydrant adapter with a programmable irrigation system--as this system is easier and cheaper to install, can be removed and possibly reused after establishment, and results in reduced water use.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2016004
  • Start date: 04/2015
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Environment and Energy
  • Topics: Environment