Alternatives to grass lawns

Asked May 6, 2020, 10:59 AM EDT

What is your recommendation for a grass which is drought tolerant and requires little to no mowing. We would like to convert our traditional lawn which is South facing. It requires weekly mowing and we know there are grasses which may not look "traditional" but are not tall. Could you point us to alternatives? Thank you

Washtenaw County Michigan

1 Response

Hello,

There are some ornamental grasses that stay under 12 inches, such as Festuca ‘Elijah Blue’ blue fescue. Some folks are becoming interested in microclover since it stays low, fixes nitrogen in the soil, and is green. https://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/non_HGIC_...

Perhaps you are thinking of the alternative lawns using sedges. There are a few hardy to zone 5 and that stay under 12 inches:

Carex conia, 6-12”, C. digitata 8”, C.glauca 6”, C. morrowii 6-12”, C. speciousa ‘The Beatles’ 4”, C. velebit 6”

Here are some references-

https://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/resources/pdfs/ornamentalgrasses.pdf

https://extension.unh.edu/blog/replacing-turf-grass-pollinator-friendly-lawn-alternatives

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/smart_lawns_for_pollinators

This reference has plant lists, including warm season grasses listed. Do not use warm season grasses here unless you can tolerate them being brown from about October through early May-

http://ipm.uconn.edu/documents/raw2/1326/Alternative%20Lawns%20Final.pdf

I hope this gets you started.