Reuters

Some species are much more absorbent than others, according to new research.

With half of Grand Rapids underwater, it's time for America's annual spring discussion about flood prevention.

It's well known that sprawling asphalt cities turn whole areas into the flooding equivalent of Antelope Canyon, requiring cities to greatly expand storm drain capacity for even moderate storms and putting houses underwater during the worst events. It's simple: concrete doesn't absorb water; grass, shrubs and trees do.

When it comes to grass, though, not all species are created equal. In a paper published on Thursday in Scientific Reports, researchers at three British universities have announced the development of a hybrid grass that is significantly more absorbent than its peers.

The new species, which they are calling Festulolium (it's Lolium perenne, or perennial ryegrass, plus Festuca pratensis, or meadow fescue), decreases runoff by as much as 51 percent more than ryegrass does. Ryegrass grows quickly and easily, while meadow fescue has strong root systems and good water retention. Festulolium is the best of both worlds.

Plus, it's tasty -- ryegrass is a traditional staple for farmers, but if they were growing Festulolium instead, their urban neighbors might be very grateful.

Top image: Fescue (foreground) and ryegrass (background) on the golf course of Pinehurst Resort, North Carolina. Reuters.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a tiny house in Oregon
    Design

    How Amazon Could Transform the Tiny House Movement

    Could the e-commerce giant help turn small-home living from a niche fad into a national housing solution?

  2. A portrait of Jay-Z.
    Equity

    The Roots of Jay-Z’s ‘Black Capitalism’

    Now partnering with the NFL, Jay-Z centers wealth-building in his activism, as many African Americans have before him—but without much success.

  3. The downtown St. Louis skyline.
    Perspective

    Downtown St. Louis Is Rising; Black St. Louis Is Being Razed

    Square co-founder Jack Dorsey is expanding the company’s presence in St. Louis and demolishing vacant buildings on the city’s north side.

  4. Warren Logan
    Transportation

    A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

    Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.

  5. Environment

    What U.S. Cities Facing Climate Disaster Risks Are Least Prepared?

    New studies find cities most vulnerable to climate change disasters—heat waves, flooding, rising seas, drought—are the least prepared.

×