This is the kind of lawn you’ve been wishing for: It needs no irrigation, grows very slowly, and stays green in the summer heat.
Don Wirth, whose family and ancestors have been farming in the valley since before statehood, invited me to take a look at this crop that looks like a coarse kind of grass but takes less effort to keep green.
The patch of lawn in the yard at Saddle Butte Ag, the family’s farm and seed business on Wirth Road, is not actually grass, Don told me. Its a bradleaf plant, a variety of plantain (Boston Plantain or plantago lanceolata, to be exact), which I learned is a forb. It was developed in New Zealand as a cover crop. It’s one of the seed crops that the Wirth operation grows and sells in this country and around the world.
Close up, the blades of this plant look wider and fleshier than your ordinary grass. But from even a short distance it’s just a lawn.
The beauty of this stuff is that it grows without irrigation. The last time the patch of green at Saddle Butte Ag got water was the last time it rained. The other upside is that it requires less mowing — one-third to half as much as most grasses, according to Don.
Something to think about the next time you sweat for an hour behind the mower. Or when the water bill arrives. (hh)