Can Your Lawn Stop a Flood?
The short answer is “no.” But certain grasses DO absorb more water, which reduces the effect of runoff and could help floods dissipate more quickly. And researchers have just bred a very thirsty new grass species.
The Festulolium cultivar is a hybrid, the offspring of perennial ryegrass and meadow fescue. Ryegrass grows quickly and is popular with farmers, while meadow fescue has a wide-ranging root system that helps it soak up water. Although its parents absorb water well, Festulolium outperforms them both.
Over two years of field experiments, the new hybrid reduced runoff 51% more than perennial ryegrass and 43% more than meadow fescue. Plus, it stood up very well to extremes in weather. You can read the full paper in Scientific Reports.
Remind me again why I should care about some water-guzzling grass? Well, Festulolium adds to the toolkit we’ll need to cope with a warming world. In this world, we can expect more potential flooding from rising sea levels and from extreme weather events like superstorm Sandy. So a grass that can reduce flooding will definitely come in handy!
Image via i_gallagher / Flickr