Anyone can plant a bluegrass or fescue lawn and these grasses make a lot of sense in wet humid climates. If you live in a dry arid region why not try something a little different? Native grasses can be a great alternative to traditional lawns and will use much less water. Here are some tips for locating native grass seeds in your area.
Hints for Locating Native Grasses
- When calling seed suppliers about native grass seeds, it helps to be very specific about the kinds of seeds you want. Many folks who answer the phone at a supplier’s office will not know the true meaning of the word “native.” They may assume that any grass they have in stock is native because they grew the stock locally. Do a little research before you call.
- On rare occasions, the clerk who answers the phone will actually try to talk you out of using natives and into using seeds of introduced grasses that they are more familiar with. Be gentle but firm with them!
- In general experts recommend using grass seed from stock which originated from no more than 300 miles of your location, preferably from within 100 miles. This is not always possible. Often the supplier will tell you where the general area in which it was harvested, so be prepared to dig a little deeper to find out where it came from before that. Ask your supplier if he knows where the seed stock originated. Call all the suppliers, even if they are headquartered far from you, they may have seed combined from fields all over your region.
- Call more as many suppliers as possible. Prices vary and so does the variety of seeds. Sometimes a supplier will tell you there is no more seed of a particular kind of grass available in the state, but another supplier may have it. Occasionally one of the suppliers will have a rare harvest of a different prairie grass. So ask around.
Where to Get Turf
Standard grass seeds can be purchased at any gardening shop, builder’s hardware store, or large discount store. Some of these stores may also sell sod. If you want buffalo grass or other native grasses you will need to get out the phone book and call around.
Sod is typically purchased directly from a sod farm or sod supplier. Sod usually must be ordered about a week in advance and cannot be stored for a long time. Because it needs to be installed quickly, make sure your soil prep work is complete before installing sod.
Lawn Incentives or Rebates
Some water providers, cities, and utility companies offer financial incentives for replacing bluegrass turf with either Xeric plants or low water use grass varieties such as buffalo grass. In some cases a utility may offer low water grass varieties at a discounted price.
For information about incentive programs in your area, contact your local water provider.