With our drought here in Southern California there is more talk of removing lawns and planting drought tolerant alternatives. We’ve done both – we took out most of our lawn and replaced it with mostly California native plants. (I’ve written a lot about our process – here’s one)
But we’ve also replaced a small remaining section of Kentucky blue grass with a lower water alternative – Blue grama and Buffalograss. It goes dormant in the winter but it takes one-half the water, we rarely mow it, and it looks great most of the year. Here are some photos and more info.
We chose Blue grama (Boutelous gracilis) and Buffalograss (Buchloe dactyloides) because they are North American native grasses, both native to the Great Plains area down to Mexico. Buffalograss supported the herds of buffalo, and is a soft blue-green, while the Blue grama is grey green. Each does well separately, but together they provide a nice combo. We bought ours from Native American Seed in Texas and seeded it pretty heavily, using 1 package each (1 # buffalo grass and .25 # blue grama – see photo) for our area. It would be nice if we could get our local nurseries to carry it. We did need to pull weeds and old grasses the first year but have been very happy with our choice.
Other alternatives to consider
- Creeping thyme – blooming flowers provide color
- Yarrow (achillea millefolium) – the native, which has a white flower, requires less water – see photo below
- Clustered field sedge
- Blue fescue – forms taller clumps – see photo below