Alternative Lawn at Matthaei Botanical Gardens
We all love to have a great-looking lawn, but we also want to reduce water use and minimize, or eliminate, our use of fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides. Our alternative lawn gives examples of species that are used in place of conventional turf grasses. All are relatively low growing and easy to maintain. These are great for areas of your property that don’t need to be “putting-green perfect.”
Southeast corner Purple Lovegrass Eragrostis spectabilis
Lovely pink plumes are produced in late summer.
Mow once in spring to a heigh of no less than 4 inches.
Southwest corner Pennsylvania Sedge Carex pensylvanica
Distinctive arching foliage.
It’s not necessary to mow this Sedge, but it can be mowed 2 or 3 times a year at a height of 4 inches.
Northwest corner Sheep’s Fescue Festuca ovina
A tussock- (or clump-) forming grass that masses well.
Mow in June to a height of 4 inches after seed heads have appeared.
Northeast corner Buffalo Grass Buchloe dactyloides
A relatively short grass and quite drought-tolerant since roots of this species grow very deep.
A controlled burn is recommended in the spring to remove the previous year’s dead growth, but if that’s not possible, mow to a height of 3 inches early in the spring.
The Alternative Lawn demonstration surrounds the Alexandra Hicks Herb Knot Garden at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens site.