by David Salman

Dog Tuff Grass
A Dog Tuff Grass lawn in Colorado.

Lawns are a permanent fixture in the US with current estimates of nearly 50 million acres under grass! Lawns support entire industries of people involved in everything from seed production and landscape maintenance to push and rider mowers.

The Yin and Yang of Lawns

But the old methods of lawn care, what we think lawns should look like and how they fit into our landscapes need to change and reflect the new paradigms of our times. We should be aware of how lawns positively and negatively affect our lives and the health of the planet.

On the positive side:

  • Lawns provide cooling to our urban and suburban areas to combat the effects of urban heat islands.
  • Lawns absorb and filter our water as it moves from the sky into the aquifers and waterways.
  • Lawns enhance the quality of our lives by providing by providing soft, cool areas to play sports, fly kites, run our dogs and have picnics.

On the negative side

  • Lawns, when cared for using traditional methods, use huge amounts of environmentally damaging chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.
  • Traditional lawn care is very energy intensive and makes lawns a carbon negative part of our landscapes (more carbon is generated than is absorbed by the grass).
  • Lawns can waste water when our water resources are being stretched and depleted.
Legacy buffalo grass lawn.
A A Legacy buffalo grass lawn in Idaho.

Considering What Type of Grass to Plant

So the first thing to examine when considering sustainable, resilient lawns is what type of grass is being used to grown them. We need to consider switching from high input grass varieties and blends to ones that:

  • Use less water and fertilizer.
  • Are deep rooted.
  • Are dwarf or slower growing and need less frequent mowing.

High Country Gardens has pioneered the use of native grass varieties for low water lawns. These include:

The Scoop on Dog Tuff™

Dog Tuff™ grass, comes to us from Republic of South African at the tip of the African continent. It is a naturally sterile hybrid that was brought to the high, dry plains of southeastern Colorado many years ago by the daughter of a rancher returning from a trip to South Africa. The rancher planted the starts and has been growing a thick, lush lawn ever since. Sometime later samples of the grass were planted in Denver and forgotten. But, thanks to the efforts of Nurseryman Kelly Grummons, of Arvada, CO who called it to my attention, it’s now available. Grown vegetatively from stolons (it sets no viable seed), you create a Dog Tuff™ lawn by planting plugs on 6 to 12-inch centers. Here are Dog Tuff™'s attributes:

  • It’s an extremely durable and deep-rooted grass that creates a nearly weed-proof, dog resistant lawn once well established.
  • It’s a grass that thrives in heat and survives cold temperatures down to about -20° F (Zone 5).
  • It's low-water, needing only a couple of inches of water per month in the growing season.
  • It loves all types of soils, but especially clay.
  • It grows best in zones 5-8, areas that get about 30 to 35 inches or less of precipitation annually.

Plant it in from late spring (May) into mid-July so it can grow during the heat of the summer, its favorite weather. The soft, fine texture is a delight for bare feet and paws. A warm-season grower, it’s green from April into October and has a nice straw color over the winter.

  1. Cynodon hybrida Dog Tuff Grass Plugs

    Dog Tuff™ Grass (Cynodon ‘PWIN04S’) is an amazing, highly drought-resistant lawn grass perfect for high traffic and play areas. It has excellent durability in yards with dogs a...

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    Dog Tuff Grass Plugs Dog Tuff Grass Plugs Cynodon hybrida Dog Tuff
    $59.95
    Per Tray of 70

    Dog Tuff™ Grass (Cynodon ‘PWIN04S’) is an amazing, highly drought-resistant lawn grass perfect for high traffic and play areas. It has excellent durability in yards with dogs and is resistant to yellowing from dog urine. Once established, this warm-season grass is highly weed resistant, deep-rooted and provides a soft, cushioned feel for bare feet. It only grows 2 ½-4 inches high, so you need not mow it unless you prefer a manicured look. 2015 Green Thumb Award Winner. We recommend using Organic Plant Magic as a root dip to spur grass plug growth. Questions? Download our Dog Tuff ™ Grass Planting Guide.

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  2. Blue Grass Bella Grass Plugs, Blue Grass Bella Plugs for shade and semi-shade!

    Bella Bluegrass Grass Plugs for shade and semi-shade are a truly revolutionary new dwarf turf bluegrass that requires 10-20% less water than traditional bluegrass. Bella Bluegrass ha...

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    Bella™ Bluegrass Grass Plugs Bella™ Bluegrass Plugs
    $59.95
    Per Tray of 70

    Bella Bluegrass Grass Plugs for shade and semi-shade are a truly revolutionary new dwarf turf bluegrass that requires 10-20% less water than traditional bluegrass. Bella Bluegrass has excellent shade tolerance (up to 80%) and doesn't require mowing as the grass blades only to grow to a height of 2 to 3 inches. We recommend using Organic Plant Magic as a root dip to spur grass plug growth.

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  3. Buchloe dactyloides UC Verde Grass Plugs, Buchloe dactyloides UC Verde, UC Verde Buffalo Grass Plugs for Coastal CA and Desert SW

    UC Verde Buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides) produces a dense turf of soft, bright-green, very fine leaf blades. It is recommended for planting in the high heat conditions found in th...

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    UC Verde Buffalo Grass Plugs UC Verde Buffalo Grass Plugs Buchloe dactyloides UC Verde
    $59.95
    Per Tray of 70

    UC Verde Buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides) produces a dense turf of soft, bright-green, very fine leaf blades. It is recommended for planting in the high heat conditions found in the lower elevation of the desert Southwest and California. UC Verde Buffalograss It is drought resistant (xeric), requiring only 1/4 inch of water per week, and has a very low pollen rating. Growing 4-8 inches, it requires mowing only once per year. We recommend using Organic Plant Magic as a root dip to spur grass plug growth.

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  4. Bouteloua gracilis Hachita Grass Plugs, Bouteloua gracilis Hachita, Hachita Blue Grama Grass Plugs

    Hachita Blue Grama Grass Plugs (Bouteloua gracilis) is the most vigorous selection of this beautiful native grass from the western Great Plains. Beloved for its "eyelash" seed heads,...

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    Hachita Blue Grama Grass Plugs Hachita Blue Grama Grass Plugs Bouteloua gracilis Hachita
    $59.95
    Per Tray of 70

    Hachita Blue Grama Grass Plugs (Bouteloua gracilis) is the most vigorous selection of this beautiful native grass from the western Great Plains. Beloved for its "eyelash" seed heads, it can also be mowed once a month to create a soft, inviting lawn. Quite xeric, 'Hachita' Blue Grama thrives in both sandy soils and clay! You can also interplant plugs with wildflowers to grow a colorful, low-care short grass prairie. For a turf type lawn, plant plugs 6" apart. We recommend using Organic Plant Magic as a root dip to spur grass plug growth. 4" tall (15" with seed heads).

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  5. Prestige Grass Plugs after 3 months

    Prestige Buffalo Grass (Buchloe dactyloides Prestige) is moisture and humidity tolerant, and outperforms all other varieties of buffalo grass in the southern and southeastern United ...

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    Prestige Buffalo Grass Plugs Prestige Buffalo Grass Plugs Buchloe dactyloides Prestige
    $59.95
    Per Tray of 70

    Prestige Buffalo Grass (Buchloe dactyloides Prestige) is moisture and humidity tolerant, and outperforms all other varieties of buffalo grass in the southern and southeastern United States. Prestige Buffalo Grass has fine soft blades with a stunning green color. Prestige Buffalo Grass is considered drought tolerant, has extremely deep roots, and requires very little supplemental water once established. It grows to a height of 4-6 inches, so mowing is optional, and dependent on the look desired. It has exceptional disease and insect resistance and a very low pollen rating. We recommend using Organic Plant Magic as a root dip to spur grass plug growth.

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  6. Buchloe dactyloides Legacy Grass Plugs, Buchloe dactyloides Legacy, Legacy Buffalo Grass Plugs

    Legacy Buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides Legacy) is a premium-quality native turf grass variety bred by University of Nebraska agronomists to be a drought tolerant, low care turf gra...

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    Legacy Buffalo Grass Plugs Legacy Buffalo Grass Plugs Buchloe dactyloides Legacy
    $59.95
    Per Tray of 70

    Legacy Buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides Legacy) is a premium-quality native turf grass variety bred by University of Nebraska agronomists to be a drought tolerant, low care turf grass with the lush look of traditional bluegrass or fescue lawns. We recommend using Organic Plant Magic as a root dip to spur grass plug growth. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric).

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  7. Bouteloua gracilis Seed Hachita, Bouteloua gracilis Hachita, Blue Grama Grass

    Blue Grama Grass Hachita (Bouteloua gracilis) is an excellent native turf grass that has good drought tolerance and low maintenance requirements. It grows to a height of 4-12", inclu...

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    Hachita Blue Grama Grass Seed - 1 LB Hachita Blue Grama Grass Seed Bouteloua gracilis Hachita
    Regular Price $39.95 Sale $33.95
    Per 1 Pound
    You save: 15%

    Blue Grama Grass Hachita (Bouteloua gracilis) is an excellent native turf grass that has good drought tolerance and low maintenance requirements. It grows to a height of 4-12", including its "eyelash-like" seed heads. Mowing is optional, depending on whether an informal meadow look is desired. Hachita is quick to germinate, is excellent for erosion control and drought resistant. Hachita requires full sun, well-drained conditions and thrives in sandy or clay soils.

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  8. Annual Rye Grass Seeds, Lolium multiflorum, Annual Rye Grass

    Annual Rye Grass (Lolium multiflorum) is an easy to grow and attractive grass that adds nitrogen to your soil. Use for quick erosion control or as a cover-crop. Annual....

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    Annual Rye Grass Seeds Annual Rye Grass Seed Lolium multiflorum
    As low as $9.99
    Per 5 Pounds

    Annual Rye Grass (Lolium multiflorum) is an easy to grow and attractive grass that adds nitrogen to your soil. Use for quick erosion control or as a cover-crop. Annual.

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