Vail reducingturf grass to save water

The town of Vail is becoming a model for water conservation that other towns may follow.

VAIL, Colo. — At Ellefson Park in Vail, town landscape architect Todd Oppenheimer says around 50% of the turf grass has been removed and replaced with native vegetation and grass that will mean using a lot less water.

“This park is about 13,000 square feet of grass,” said Oppenheimer. “What we took out we think it will save 176,000 gallons of water a year.”

It’s part of a turf reduction program that Vail is among the first mountain communities to take part in to save water while water supplies dwindle to historic levels across the west.

“This is a period of prolonged drought,” said Oppenheimer.

Vail’s overall goal is to reduce 75,000 square feet of turf grass, saving more than a million gallons of water a year by removing nonfunctioning turf that doesn’t get a lot of use.

“If the only person walking on a patch of grass is pushing a lawn mower that’s nonfunctional turf grass,” said Oppenheimer. “We didn’t touch the grass in this part of the park that the kids use to play on, we took out the grass no one used.”

Reducing how much water is needed for turf grass also helps local stream flows and the habitat that lives around those streams and is a key target for water conservation.

Up to 95% of the water we use in our homes is retreated and reused but only around 5% of landscaping water can be reused.

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