Looking out your window, you might not appreciate that the grass in your yard affects whether the neighborhood goes up in flames or keeps federal flood assistance at bay.
The analogy might not be that extreme, but it is true that in addition to adding some color to your property and sometimes being a pain to mow, the grass on your yard plays a large part in the health of the local environment. Over the years, several hardy species of grass have prevailed as robust, drought-resistant varieties that are better at deterring fires and preventing erosion from floods and storms than others. Best of all, the hardiest species of grass have the lowest maintenance needs and require less care than their peers. They also help conserve the state's precious water supplies.
A Vicious Cycle
Summers in Texas are brutal. Hot temperatures and scarce rainfall are the norm. If you've been struggling with wilted, dry, unsightly lawns for the past few years, you're not alone. Research shows that during droughts and hot summer months, residents who have non-native, high-maintenance grass can spend at least 50 percent of their water on their lawns alone. In addition to depleting precious water supplies, homeowners also spend more time weeding, fertilizing, and mowing their lawns. This ends up creating more harm than good, as weeds can quickly overrun a yard, fertilizers get into the waterways and groundwater, and creatures such as bees, butterflies, and insects no longer have a viable food source.
If someone asked if you'd want to save money, help the environment, and have an attractive lawn, you would probably say yes.
The solution that you'll find to your lawn problems today dates back to the 1980s. A man named Bill Neiman, a Dallas native, once had the same problem. As a resident of Flower Mound, he noticed his lawns drying up and dying every summer, no matter how much time, care, and energy he put into keeping his grass going. Worse, his neighbors' lawns were the same. By the height of summer, the local drought was so severe that residents had to restrict how much water they consumed and how many showers they took. Frustrated, Neiman went for a drive out to the country one day. What he saw changed his outlook and his life's mission.
Upon reaching the countryside, Neiman found that despite enduring the same harsh conditions, the grasses and plants were not only surviving, but they were also thriving. Beautiful flowers even appeared on some plants. After this revelation, Neiman concluded that modern lawns, with their modern problems, were a burden to the environment and put undue stress on local water sources. This got him thinking. If the grasses in the countryside thrived when grasses in the city died, why not let nature reign?
Neiman's idea took root, and it wasn't long before positive change came about. Neiman developed a turf that relied heavily on buffalograss, a native grass, to resist drought, use less water, require less fertilization, and even bring back the pollinators. Plus, as an added benefit, the beautifully thick, blue-green grass was formulated to have aesthetic appeal. It was intended for use in residential lawns, after all.
Less is More
Neiman and his neighbors soon found that after replacing their man-made grasses with native species like buffalograss, the results were miraculous. Over the years, buffalograss has adapted to become a hardy and resilient species. With little water and even less maintenance, it becomes a thick, luscious, and beautiful blue-green grass. Perhaps best of all is that no fertilizers or pesticides are required for its growth. A note about bluegrass is that it naturally reaches a height of three to eight inches. If it's cut before it reaches three inches, it will not do as well.
Furthermore, it will not attract the pollinators as it is intended to naturally do. However, these care restrictions are minimal. If you plant buffalo grass in your yard, you'll soon find that you spend less time on maintenance and more time on your own life. Plus, you'll reduce your water bills and conserve water for your neighbors, too.
The Best Native Grasses
Of all the native grasses you can have in your Fort Worth lawn, the most popular is buffalograss. But other species of grass are equally vibrant, low-maintenance, and adapted to the local climate. If you want to diversify from just buffalograss, here are some alternatives.
Bermuda grass, which originated in Bermuda, is commonly used on a variety of surfaces. In addition to residential settings, it is also a popular grass for parks, stadiums, and athletic fields. This grass is versatile, easy to plant, and resilient. It tends to retain a nice green color year-round, even in the driest parts of the state, and even during long, hot Texas summers. Since it grows quickly once planted, it will need semi-moderate mowings to keep your lawn looking manicured.
Carpet grass, as the name implies, is a ground cover type of grass. It is characterized by short stems and deep roots that anchor grass stalks in place. Carpet grass is ideal for the Fort Worth area, as it can adjust to rapidly changing environmental conditions. Since carpet grass thrives in soil with little nutrition, it is a good option for properties with rocky soil or clay-based soil.
If you haven't guessed already, Bluegrass is native to Kentucky. It features beautiful soft blades. Bluegrass thrives in northern Texas, as it is more resistant to cold temperatures than many other kinds of grass. Since it absorbs water well, it's also the right choice for low-lying, drought-prone areas.
Keeping a lawn looking healthy and vibrant in Texas is hard work. Between the hot, dry summers and the cold winters of the north, it's hard to know what to plant. Generally, the concept of "going native," which entails using grasses specially adapted to the environment, is the best option. From Buffalograss to Kentucky Bluegrass, you have many great choices for a beautiful, durable, and environmentally-friendly lawn.