New Year, New Lawn

New Year, New Lawn

Our climate supports a wide array of beautiful flowers and turf grass substitutes. Winter is the best time to rethink the traditional lawn-based landscape and create a plan that will help you save water and beat the heat next summer — and every summer thereafter.

In South Texas a traditional lawn is impossible to maintain without great effort and expense. Not enough water during the summer and it will turn brown. Too much water leads to pests and fungi.

In the shade turf grasses thin and disappear. During the winter warm season turf goes dormant, causing some homeowners to over-seed with winter grasses and resulting in even more complications and problems. Why not give up on finicky turf grasses?

The quest for the perfect lawn has led to grass being the single most irrigated crop in the United States — more than corn! Lawns are also major producers of greenhouse gasses, from chemical production to the energy consumed to moving all that water around. Additionally, lawn mowers contribute disproportionately to ground level ozone, a pollutant that San Antonio now struggles with.

It’s time to rethink the traditional lawn and grow a landscape that is a reflection our beautiful local flora instead of one that exists in opposition to it. And we don’t have to switch to all-cactus-landscape either. Our local climate supports a wide array of beautiful flowers and turf grass substitutes.

The first and easiest step is to reduce the size of your lawn. Removing grass and the associated irrigation is an investment that will beautify your property and reduce your water bill. SAWS even has programs to help you do this. Whether you want to replace your burdensome lawn with a beautiful, drought-tolerant flowerbed or a useful patio, SAWS has you covered.

If you have an irrigation system, make sure to schedule an irrigation consultation as the changes you make could qualify you for an irrigation design rebate. The coupon program applications are available every spring and fall, so this winter is the perfect time to plan what part of your lawn you want to take out.

If you’ve already reduced your lawn and want to remove the last vestiges of the thirsty beast, there are options for you as well. In full sun there are a variety of native short grasses that thrive in San Antonio’s climate. You can buy buffalo grass sod by the pallet, or start a short grass meadow from seed. Either way once installed and established, native short grasses don’t require as much mowing and only need about a quarter of the water. In the shade sedges can be substituted for grass for an evergreen sod-like appearance that never needs mowing or irrigation once established. Head over to our gallery to see an example of a lovely sedge lawn.

There are many reasons to make the move away from lawn-based landscape design. Now is the perfect time to create a plan that will help you save water and beat the heat next summer and every summer thereafter.

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Cleveland Powell

About our expert

Cleveland Powell

Cleveland Powell is a conservation consultant for SAWS. He is enthusiastic about grass taxonomy and milkweed propagation. In his free time, Powell enjoys hiking around area parks in search of intriguing bugs, birds and plants.