Ecologists at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX, have found that a lawn of native grasses can be just as lush as a lawn of common turfgrass, using far fewer resources.
Dr. Mark Simmons of the center's Ecosystem Design Group said scientists "created a lawn that needs less mowing and keeps weeds out better than a common American lawn option."
Simmons was head of the study that compared common Bermuda grass to seven native grasses, which included Buffalo grass alone and in combination with other native short grass species. The mixed native grasses outperformed both Bermuda and Buffalo grass in lushness well into summer and also in weed resistance. Research continues on watering requirements, but the ecologists believe the native mixed grasses will do very well since they respond better to different conditions over time.
According to Simmons, the goal is to develop a "more ecologically stable, natural alternative for lawns that are so important to many Europeans and Americans."
Lawns now cover about 40 million acres in the United States, and maintenance consumes two-thirds of the drinking water in municipalities, 800 million gallons of gasoline, $700 million in pesticides, and $5.2 billion in fertililzers derived from fossil fuels. That's surely too high a price to pay!