A Low-Water Turf Option to Consider: Dog Tuff™ Grass

Turf can be a perfectly good choice for the firewise landscape and can also be appropriate in xeric applications if the species or mix is carefully selected. Regular maintenance is a priority to keeping turf healthy and green during the fire season. With increased drought conditions and minimal rainfall amounts, Idaho Firewise encourages homeowners to consider other turf options besides than the standard, water-thirsty Kentucky bluegrass or perennial ryegrass.

Dog Tuff™ grass, mowed vs. not mowed

For this post, we are highlighting the warm-season turf option Dog Tuff™, botanically known as Cynodon ‘PWIN04S’. Dog Tuff™ is a sterile hybrid that is extremely drought tolerant and can handle high levels of wear and tear from foot traffic and dog play. It is naturally short (~4 inches) and can be mowed or left alone for months at a time. This species is also recommended for western landscapes by Plant Select®. They have a page dedicated to promoting and learning more about Dog Tuff™ here: https://plantselect.org/learn/dog-tuff-grass-everything-you-need-to-know/.

Did you know that the Idaho Firewise Garden in Boise demonstrates 12 different options for turf grass? To see the turf plots in person, the garden is accessible by appointment at any time of the year, or during the gardening season (March-October) with admission to the Idaho Botanical Garden.

Cool season to warm season turf options; Dog Tuff™, closest turf plot in photo, dormant during the fall and winter months.
Photo credit: Ross Shrigley of Plant Select®, visiting the turf plots at the Idaho Firewise Garden
(January 2022, Dog Tuff™ in foreground).

While visiting the Idaho Firewise Garden, note that the plots decrease in irrigation needs from left to right and progress from cool to warm season turf options suitable for the region.

As of January 2022, the 12 turf plots are as follows:

  1. Kentucky Bluegrass/Ryegrass 4EVR BLUE® (Poa pratensis / Lolium spp.)
  2. Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne)
  3. Dwarf Tall Fescue Mix ENDURATURF® (Proprietary mix, The Turf Company)
  4. Fine Fescue SHADOWMASTER™ (Proprietary, The Turf Company)
  5. XERILAWN® (Proprietary, The Turf Company)
  6. Sheep Fescue (Festuca ovina)
  7. (Under construction) Previously Sandberg Bluegrass (Poa secunda)
  8. High Desert Grass Mix (Western Native Seed)
  9. Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis ‘Hachita’)
  10. Buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides ‘Legacy’)
  11. Zenith® Zoysia (Zoysia spp.)
  12. Dog Tuff™ Grass (Cynodon ‘PWIN04S’)