This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area



April 21, 2017

Why the grass turns brown in the winter in Phoenix, Arizona


At the risk of sounding like the Chamber of Commerce, winter never comes to Phoenix. It never snows here, you can go play golf in December, and you would be wise to wear sunscreen in February. So, if you follow my meaning here, the weather is nice. Real nice. And if you're from Minnesota, like I am, it may puzzle you as to why you're seeing brown grass in what seems to be summer.

But it's not summer. And the most common grass that is planted here, Bermuda grass, only greens up in the summer, like when it's over 100 degrees. So as late as April (I took the photo above yesterday as I was walking around the local Community College) the grass is still dormant. It was over 80 degrees when I was out walking, so it felt like summer to me, but it isn't summer yet for the Bermuda grass.

Now waitaminute, I hear you saying - you've seen nice green grass in the middle of the winter. There's probably green grass at that luxury resort you're staying in right now, or your neighbor's yard may be nice and green. But there's a trick to that - it's called "overseeding". And that means that a winter grass is seeded every year (at great expense and work, I've done it!) and then it dies in the summer heat when the Bermuda grass comes out of its dormancy. At the Community College they don't do that. Most nice golf courses do that - the inexpensive ones that I used to play in my youth didn't. Or maybe they just overseeded particular areas, like the fairways (I never spent much time in fairways so I'm not entirely sure, but I think they did). And of course the greens were overseeded in the winter.

I don't have grass on my property anymore. I got rid of the last of it about ten years ago and replaced it in my backyard with artificial turf and in the front yard with desert landscaping. But there are places that need grass, and the baseball field (which is on the other side of the fence there) at GCC is one of them. Even without overseeding in the winter it's a lot of work to maintain, and uses a lot of water.
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