UTAH DROUGHT 2021

Saratoga Springs Will Let Some Park Grass Go Brown

Jun 22, 2021, 6:11 PM | Updated: 9:09 pm

SARATOGA SPRINGS, Utah — On a normal year, it’s Rick Kennington’s job to keep the grass looking perfect in Saratoga Springs parks.

“You fertilize it. You water it. You aerate it,” the parks superintendent said. “And you’ve worked hard and all of sudden now it’s like, let’s not let it water. Let’s let it look brown.”

This summer, he’s coming to terms with letting the turf go dormant in some parks.

“You have to have the mindset that that grass will come back. It can be reestablished,” Kennington said.

Because of the severe drought, Saratoga Springs will focus on watering grass in fields used specifically for recreation programming.

“The priority is just playable fields,” said city spokesperson AnnElise Harrison. “We want the kids to be safe and have that buffer of the turf while they’re playing games, but we are going to allow those unnecessary spaces to enter a dormant state.”

While standing in Pinnacle Park, where organized recreation games aren’t scheduled, Kennington explained that he has already scaled back on watering.

 “You can see it’s not that emerald green,” he said. “But it’s starting to slowly get to that dormant state.”

The surface grass in parks not used for recreation leagues will be allowed to turn yellow and brown, with the sprinklers turning on just enough to keep the roots alive for future years.

“If you pull up and you feel a good solid root and you’re not pulling up grass, then you know that it’s still intact and it’s still pretty healthy,” Kennington said about dormant grass.

Kennington said parks department crews are also leaving the grass longer in city parks to protect it from the sun and heat.

“Trees are a big concern, obviously, and they’ll still need that adequate water,” Kennington said, adding that crews will be checking on trees and giving them extra water if needed.

The city hopes that by leading by example, homeowners will follow suit with their own yards.

“What we’re hoping that they learn is that it’s okay to let it go this year,” Harrison said. “So let’s make yellow the new green in Saratoga Springs.”

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Saratoga Springs Will Let Some Park Grass Go Brown