Lawn Alternatives - City of Santa Monica

Office of Sustainability and the Environment
1717 4th St., Suite 100
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 458-8405
[email protected]
Lawn Alternatives - Climate-Appropriate Grasses and Ground Covers
A typical lawn in Santa Monica uses 22 gallons of water per square foot, per year. The lawn alternatives featured here cut water
use by 50-70%. For new landscaping, only 20% of the landscaped area can be planted with lawn or other “high water need”
plants (listed in Region 3 of the current Water Use Classification of Landscape Species - WUCOLS). Fortunately, lawn
alternatives flourish in our climate and provide the look and functionality of turf with less water, chemicals and maintenance,
making for a more sustainable Santa Monica.
‘UC Verde’ Buffalo Grass
Uses 70% less water. Reduces mowing frequency but can be mowed like a regular lawn. Available at Armstrong Nursery,
FloraSource Ltd. and Todd Valley Farms.
Children and pet friendly
Has a soft texture
Parkway alternative to lawn
City of Santa Monica Sustainable Landscape Grantee Gardens using UC Verde Buffalo grass
Amy Williams Photography
UC Verde Buffalo grass goes dormant in the winter. “Dormant” means it may turn straw green (see above right). It is sold
as plugs and the best time to plant is in early summer. It may take 6-8 weeks to fill in. You can overseed with Grama
grass, Bouteloua gracilis, another water thrifty grass, during the summer.
Sold as plugs
1 week after installation
4 weeks
8 weeks
Native Sedge Grasses Carex sp.
Installed as individual plugs; Requires little watering; Can be mowed or weed wacked once or twice a year - growing about 12” to
15” tall with a graceful, floppy habit. Available at nurseries such as Armstrong, Native Sons, Theodore Payne Foundation, and
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden’s Grow Native Nursery.
Carex at garden/garden demo garden (SMC)
Sustainable Landscape Grantee Gardens using Carex species
Yarrow Achillea millefolium
Start from seed (mix with sand) or use individual plants; Mow about every 6 weeks. If the surface was not going to be walked on,
the mowing intervals could be greatly extended. ‘King Edward Yarrow’ Achillea Lewisii grows only 6” high. Available at nurseries
such as Armstrong, Theodore Payne Foundation, and Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden’s Grow Native nursery.
Individual yarrow plant
Sustainable Landscape Grantee Gardens using Yarrow species in parkway and backyard
Silver Carpet Dymondia margaretae
Grown from flats. Makes a great plant in between permeable pavers like driveways, stepping stones, or out in the parkway. This
is a slowly spreading, very flat (just a few inches tall at best) groundcover with green leaves on top and white underneath. Yellow
daisy-like flowers bloom amongst the foliage in summer.
Sustainable Landscape Grantee Gardens using Dymondia
CA Native Bentgrass Agrostis Pallens
Installed by Seed or Sod
Soils and Seeds Solutions (805) 236-9272, S&S Seeds
Slope Saver®
Installed by seed or hydroseed.
Blends of Fescues - Red, Sheep, Hard and Chewing
which grow close to 16” if not mowed or cut and could
become a tripping hazards at that height.
Sustainable Landscape Grantee Gardens using Native Bentgrass
Sustainable Landscape Grantee using Slope Saver