Turf Grass Alternatives

lawn closeupAre you tired of the time and costs to mow, water, fertilize and maintain your lawn? Are you tired of a yard that looks just like all the others? This class presents alternatives for reclaiming all or part of your lawn to create a more sustainable and interesting landscape. Discussion  includes manageable techniques to reduce the size of your lawn and plant replacements for traditional turf grass. This class was offered by Extension Master Gardeners and  presented live as a Zoom meeting.

Speaker: Extension Master Gardener Donald Bobby 
Zoom session, Saturday, March 28, 2020

Video of Presentation

  • 0:00 Why Lawn?
  • 7:39 Good Uses for Lawn
  • 8:42 Disadvantages of Lawn
  • 11:46 Advantages of Less Lawn
  • 17:06 Turf Alternatives

Additional Resources

Virginia Cooperative Extension

Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia

Plant NoVA Natives

  • Website includes lists of native plant vendors and plant sales

Audubon at Home Ambassadors

  • Site visits to identify plants and plan for sustainable landscaping
  • Certification of properties as Wildlife Sanctuaries


Additional Points Made in Response to Questions

  • Many native plants have very different pH requirements than lawns. Homeowners are encouraged to have their soil tested if they are thinking about changing from turf grass in their yards.
  • Residents can simply expand an already existing tree circle or flower bed bit by bit over time to reduce lawn.
  • Leaving weeds, such chicory, henbit, or plantains on a vacant lot could be an option before converting it to another use. Some of them may be edible. It is important to identify plants first because some, such as English Ivy, may be invasive and will need to be removed. Photos can be sent to the Master Gardener Help Desk for assistance.
  • Homeowners can provide individual models in their own yards to help change the American mindset about lawns.
  • Turf grass cannot withstand extensive activity from dogs. It is best to try to separate them from the landscaped areas of the yard.
  • Developers’ main concern is to avoid erosion, so they plant lawn as something to establish quickly. It is up to homeowners to make future changes to the landscaping.
  • Spring is a good time to plant Moss Phlox (Phlox subulata) for sunny sites. It should be watered regularly throughout the summer if there are severe droughts. Phlox species for shady locations include Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata) and Creeping Phlox (Phlox stolonifera).