This demonstration was designed to replace conventional lawn with native low-growing grasses, which only require mowing once or twice per year. Thirteen species of forbs and six species of grasses were originally planted in 2009, and some woodland and meadow herbs have been added. Plant species were selected that are suitable for both full sun and shady as well as wet and dry conditions. Danthonia spicata and Danthonia compressa (poverty oat grass) are dominant in the planting. Penstemon hirsutus is also widely planted. The sun loving, dry site forbs include Phlox subulata and Antennaria plantaginafolia. Bluets, Hedyotis caerulea, add color to the mix.
Learn more about how this garden was planted in this Powerpoint presentation created by Krissy Boys, staff gardener.
What Makes it Sustainable?
Compared to traditional turf grass lawns they:
- Require no fertilizer, which uses energy and emits a significant amount of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas, during its production
- Require no pesticides
- Provide a diversity of native plants that supports increased biodiversity for pollinators and other invertebrates
- Require minimal mowing, which reduces the amount of gas used and greenhouse emissions from lawnmowers.
- Require minimal to no watering
- Used as a teaching landscape for University classes and the public
- Serves as a demonstration for encouraging the implementation of a native lawn in a home landscape
Why this is important?
Annually in the U.S:
- $750 million is spent on grass seed
- 100 million tons of fertilizer is used
- 80 million pounds of pesticides are used
- 40 hours are spent on average mowing a home lawn. In order to offset the CO2 emissions from the average 10 gallons of gas required, eight 2” diameter sugar maple trees would need to be planted here in the northeast.
- 25%- 40% of landfill space is taken up by grass clippings from mowed lawns
- Per hour of operation, small gas-powered engines used for lawn care emit more hydrocarbon than a typical automobile.
- 10,000 ft2 of turf requires 10,000 gallons of water each summer to stay green.
- 30% of the water consumed on the East Coast goes to watering lawns
source: Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping Chesapeake Bay Watershed, USDA Climate Change Resource Center Tree Carbon Calculator