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Water Requirements for Urban Lawns


This publication reports the results of a study to obtain measured data on water use of urban lawns. The specific objectives were to: (1) measure actual water requirements of lawns by the use of lysimeters, (2) monitor actual water application rates by homeowners, (3) test common lawn sprinklers to determine their distribution patterns, and (4) develop a set of lawn watering guidelines.

The study was initiated in Wyoming during the summer of 1975 supported, in part, by OWRT annual allotment funding. The study was expanded into a 3-state regional project, to include Arizona and Colorado under an OWRT matching grant beginning October 1, 1976. Each state had similar, yet distinctively separate, objectives and work plans. This publication reports on the Wyoming accomplishments. Similar reports have been prepared by Arizona and Colorado for their portions of the study.

The study was conducted in two Wyoming cities—Laramie and Wheatland. The climatic conditions in much of the state and also much of the Western region of the nation are typified by the climate of these two communities. Laramie, at 2195 m elevation and 41°19'N latitude, lies off the western edge of the Laramie Range on a high broad basin bordered to the west and south by the Medicine Bow mountains and foothills. Laramie's mean annual temperature is 4.9°C with mid summer temperatures seldom reaching 32°C. The average frost free period is 113 days, and the mean annual rainfall is just over 25.4 cm. Wheatland, at 1433 m and 42°05'N latitude, lies off the eastern slope of the Laramie Range at the transition to Wyoming's eastern plains. Wheatland's mean annual temperature is 9.5°C with temperatures reaching 37 °C several times a year. The average frost free period is 133 days and mean annual rainfall is just over 20.5 cm. In both towns the predominant lawn grass types grown are Kentucky bluegrass and bluegrass-fesque combinations. Soil types in both towns are mainly fine sandy loams.

This report consists of separate chapters (chapters 2 through 5) related to each of the four main objectives. Each chapter consists of a description of the methodology used in performance of each objective followed by a presentation of the results for the objective. In this manner, a reader interested in a specific objective may turn directly to the chapter dealing with that objective. The final chapter (chapter 6) presents a summary of the major findings and recommendations of the overall project.

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