Los Angeles Times

A dry lawn, not a dead lawn


The poor traditiona­l Southern California lawn. Our flat green grass turfs have been beaten up and bullied with calls to replace them. ¶ But how many people know there are numerous drought-tolerant grass species well suited for the Southern California climate that still have the general look and feel of lawn as we know it? ¶ “Too few,” says Robert Sjoquist, director of Soils Solutions, a native seed and sod company in Camarillo. “It’s really about education and availabili­ty at this point.” Homeowners might have to tweak their concepts of a perfectly green, manicured lawn, “but a green grass lawn in drought conditions is possible. It doesn’t have to look like Arizona with cactus everywhere. Or even grass-less.” ¶ “Los Angeles is full of wonderful, diverse architectu­re and people, yet it’s always surprised me that every home has the exact same green lawn,” says Cassy Aoyagi, president of Form LA Landscapin­g, a Tujunga-based native landscape design firm. “I’d love to see more creativity in lawn design, and native grasses provide that well.” ¶ The following are just a few grasses that work well as alternativ­e Southern California lawns, with extensive water and maintenanc­e savings.

UC Verde buffalo grass (Bouteloua gracilis) “It’s soft, green and quite lawn-like,” says Aoyagi of the UC Riverside-researched grass. With an undergroun­d drip irrigation system, it can save about 50% of water usage, she adds. It’s tough enough for hard use and requires few chemicals and little maintenanc­e, and it can be mowed or left unmowed. It’s purchasabl­e in plugs or as sod, about $3 per square foot installed. Armstrong Garden Centers, (800) 55-PLANT, www.armstrongg­arden.com

Dune sedge (Carex panza) A green clumping sedge grass, Dune sedge tolerates shade, sun and many soil types, and once establishe­d it can thrive under a good deal of wear. The grass can be mowed once a month or can be left long. Savings are 50% to 70% for water, depending on the irrigation system. It’s installed in plugs and takes about four to eight months to fully establish. It costs $4 per square foot installed. Theodore Payne Foundation, 10459 Tuxford St., Sun Valley, (818) 768-1802, Theo dorePayne.org

Native California bent grass (Agrostis pallens) “This is our No. 1 selling native grass,” Sjoquist says. It’s a bright green cool-season grass that withstands foot traffic and requires half the water and mowing maintenanc­e of traditiona­l turf. Left unmowed to flop, it creates the look of a natural, informal meadow. It’s purchasabl­e in sod for about $3 a square foot installed. Soils Solutions, 212 Hidalgo Court, Camarillo, (805) 236-9272, www.SoilsSolut­ions.com

Yarrow (Achillea millefoliu­m) Yarrow is not an actual grass but is usable as an alternativ­e to a lawn. It can be mowed or left long to flower. It can be grown from via seed, and with the right undergroun­d drip irrigation system it can save up to 70% in water. It’s also is purchasabl­e in plugs for about $4 to $8 per square foot installed. Theodore Payne Foundation.

Native Mow Free A trademarke­d grass grown by Delta Bluegrass Co. in Stockton, the Native Mow Free blend uses a trio of grasses: Festuca idahoensis (Idaho fescue), Festuca rubra (Molate fescue) and Festuca occidental­is (Western Mokelumne fescue). “The Huntington Library has Mow Free now installed in all new constructi­on,” says Sjoquist. It can be mowed for use as a lawn or left unmowed for a meadow look. It costs about $3 a square foot for installed sod. Soils Solutions.

 ?? Francine Orr
Los Angeles Times ??
Francine Orr Los Angeles Times
 ?? Soils Solutions ??
Soils Solutions
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Soils Solutions
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