Lawns are a permanent fixture in the US, with current estimates of nearly 50 million acres under grass! A lush green lawn looks beautiful and provides the perfect surface to walk through the garden, where kids can run, and pets can play. But the old methods of lawn care, what we think lawns should look like, and how they fit into our landscapes are changing to reflect the new paradigms of our times. We should be aware of how lawns positively and negatively affect the planet, and how our lawns can help.
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.
With a sustainable lawn, you can enjoy all the benefits of soft green grass without compromising on your values for a sustainable landscape. High Country Gardens has pioneered waterwise gardening for over 25 years. We offer grass plugs and grass seeds that are drought tolerant, hardy, and low maintenance, as well as a range of alternative lawn solutions. When you choose a sustainable lawn, you'll conserve water, reduce mowing and maintenance, save time and money – all while enjoying your outdoor space more than ever.
High Country Gardens has pioneered the use of native grass varieties for low water lawns. These include:
Consider switching from high input, water-intensive grass varieties and ones that use less water and fertilizer, are deep rooted for resilience and drought tolerance, and are low-growing or slower growing for less frequent mowing.To find out which sustainable grasses will be best for you, learn more in our helpful articles.
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.
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. 4" tall (15" with seed heads).
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. Questions? Download our Dog Tuff ™ Grass Planting Guide.
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.
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.