Turfgrass Producers of Texas recently completed a two-year study of various turfgrass varieties to identify drought-tolerant grasses. That study looked at turfgrasses commonly available in the region around San Antonio and a goal of the research was to develop a list of turfgrasses that demonstrated summer dormancy capabilities. Summer dormancy is defined for the research as the ability of turfgrass to survive without water for a period of sixty consecutive days between the months of May through September. The research was conducted by the Texas AgriLife Extension faculty in Soil and Crop Sciences and Agricultural Engineering.
One finding of the study is that drought-tolerance is dependent on adequate soil depth. While soil depths of four inches were tested, a soil depth of 10 to 12 inches is preferred. In many parts of Texas, good topsoil is scarce. If you have to grade an area before installing sod, consider piling the topsoil to one side while grading the subsoil, and then redistribute the topsoil over the installation site. If the topsoil is not deep enough, consider bringing in a good topsoil to build the native soil. For more information about ensuring adequate depths of topsoil, please read Turfgrass Establishment for Texas: Ecological Turf Tips.
For more information about this research project, please read Evaluation of Sixty-Day Drought Survival in San Antonio of Established Turfgrass Species and Cultivars.