In a now-viral video, a TikToker named Daryl (@yardfarmer.co) stitched another creator’s video that prompted the question, “what’s a piece of information that you learned that feels illegal to know?” Her answer, lawn alternatives, might not feel like top secret information immediately — but the savings it can provide do sound downright criminal.
The prominence of grass lawns throughout American history has convinced us that the time, money, and energy spent manicuring traditional turf is something that we all must endure. In Daryl’s response, she asserts that we could all have more manageable yards that look amazing, require far less care and money to maintain, and are better for the planet.
“It turns out we’ve all been lied to,” she says.
@yardfarmer.co #stitch with @chastinjmiles YOUR LAWN IS STUPID BUT IT DOESNT HAVE TO BE!!!! #foodnotlawns #savewater #waterconservation #utahwater #savewater #highdesert #highdesertgarden ♬ In My Bed – Rotimi
Traditional grasses used in our yards are typically not native to North America –– some examples like Bermudagrass and Kentucky bluegrass are invasive species in various parts of the United States
Today, most American house-dwellers spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars annually maintaining grass lawns.
These traditional grass yards require a considerable amount of water to stay green, frequent mowing to keep up with fast growth, and fertilizers that endanger our communities when they drain into local bodies of water.
As Daryl says, it doesn’t have to be that way.
“We could all totally have grass that does not need to be watered and does not need to be mowed!” she says in her TikTok.
She then proposes alternatives to traditional grass turf that don’t need to be watered or mowed nearly as often, and thrive without fertilizer use –– the most notable being buffalo grass.
Buffalo grass got its name from being one of the grasses that supported the 60 million bison in the Great Plains before their near extinction.
Buffalo grass is a species of native grass that grows uniformly and looks most like traditional turf grasses. It is one of the best alternatives for those living in an area governed by a homeowner association because of this similarity as well as its short height.
Buffalo grass is native to the central and western U.S., stretching from the Canadian prairies to central Mexico and spanning from the Intermountain Region to the Mississippi Valley.
It is native to areas with low precipitation, so it is a drought-tolerant species, meaning when your neighbors’ traditional turf lawn is looking brown and crispy come mid-July, yours will still be lush and green. It is also resistant to heat and cold.
Better for your wallet (and the planet)
Besides being a native plant species that supports local ecosystems, buffalo grass helps the planet by saving and protecting resources. It does not require excessive irrigation, pesticides, or fertilizers, conserving water and preventing the pollution of chemicals in the surrounding environment.
Once established about a year after planting, buffalo grass is very water-thrifty, needing only a quarter to half an inch of water each week, whereas Bermudagrass needs more than an inch of water each week. And, using only a third of the water used by Kentucky bluegrass, buffalo grass can save you a lot of money on your water bill.
The durable grass is considered low-growing and only requires mowing once a month in the summer months. Minimal mowing saves on labor or the costs you might pay someone else to maintain your yard. It also protects air quality because fewer mows mean less pollution being released into the air by gas-powered lawn equipment.
It also helps prevent soil erosion. With its extensive root system that can reach eight feet into the ground, buffalo grass can form a thick sod that holds soil in place. The root systems of traditional turf grass typically have a depth of four inches, making the soil more susceptible to erosion.
Fellow “grass haters” chimed into this conversation on Daryl’s video, talking about their own experiences with grass alternatives, with many comments also raving about clover lawns. Because buffalo grass might not be native to your area or do well in your climate, other options will give you the same money-saving and planet-helping benefits. Clover, fescue, creeping thyme, and more are all grass alternatives that grow well in different parts of the country.
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