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How to care for grass in Phoenix, Arizona

One of the worst possible things to have on your property in Phoenix, Arizona is grass. In the long run, you're much better off doing an attractive xeriscape landscape, which will use a whole lot less water and cost a lot less to care for. But doing that takes a fair amount of initial investment, and in the meantime if you have grass, you have to deal with it. I did it for years.

If you're from back east, like I am, it will probably come as a surprise to you that most of the lawns in Phoenix are that terrible weed, Bermuda grass. Yes, the stuff you spray to get rid of on your lawn in Minneapolis is what most lawns are made up of in Phoenix. In fact, just about anything green counts as a lawn in Phoenix, especially in areas that get irrigation, which are made up of a wild combination of weeds. As a person from Minneapolis, I learned that when I had a property that was irrigated in Tempe. You simply dump water on it, and whatever is there turns green. Or greenish. It does seem to be better than just dry dirt, I gotta admit!

And yes, you're right, Bermuda grass is the number one allergen in Phoenix. As someone who suffers from allergies, I know. Every year the air is filled with these tiny invisible spores and most of the people in Phoenix just shrug their shoulders, or blame orange trees. So, seriously, if you're considering getting rid of your grass in the future, please do, we'll all breathe easier.

So if you're staring out at a bunch of dirt and weeds, maybe at a yard that hasn't been maintained in years, relax, all you gotta do is add water. If you live in an area that doesn't have irrigation, you'll have to water your grass with the same expensive water that you use to shower with. This runs up your water bill, but of course in the short run it's cheaper than installing desert landscaping, or putting in artificial turf (which is what I did about a decade ago). Your lawn (if you can call a combination of Bermuda grass and other weeds a lawn) will need a lot of water, and luckily things grow well in the desert - just add water.

If you want green grass in the winter it gets much more complicated. That's because Bermuda grass goes dormant for the winter (yes, I know it's still warm, but the grass thinks it's winter) and it turns brown. No, it doesn't die, it will green up again in summer, but in the meantime you'll have a brown yard unless you do something called "overseeding". I did this for years and while I look back on it as a labor of love, it was a lot of labor, trouble, and expense. You have to buy grass seed every year that only grows in the winter. And you have to give it a lot of water to get it to grow, and then you have to mow it. I won't explain it here, you can Google it, or talk to someone at Home Depot, who will be happy to fill your shopping cart with all of the things you need. I am so glad that I don't do that anymore!

Image at the top of this post: winter grass at the Arizona Biltmore. It looks great there, and they can afford it.

Artificial turf in my backyard in Glendale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. Yes, it was expensive, and I recommend having the pros do it, or it will look terrible. And yes, your dog can pee on it, water goes through it. Oh yeah, and you can leave furniture on it. And no mowing!

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