No-Mow Grass – A Lawn Saver

California Native Landscape

With California facing the worst drought in its history is it possible for a responsible home owner or property manager to turn a water-consuming landscape into a drought tolerant one and still include grass as part of it's design?

The answer is …YES!

No-Mow Grass (a collection of fineleaf fescue "grass" species that have been developed over the last 40+ years) is the answer for low-maintenance, low-input, environmentally friendly grassy ground covers. No-Mow is ideal for home, commercial and industrial landscapes that include slopes, median strips, golf course roughs, cemeteries and untrafficked areas of parks.


No-Mow's Properties

  • Reduces mowing to once or twice a year
  • Once established, No-Mow requires little, if any, watering
  • Thrives in full sun or partial shade
  • Fertilizers are not needed, or recommended
  • Established turf chokes out weed growth
  • Forms a thick flowing turf that withstands moderate foot traffic
  • Grows in any well-drained soil
  • Seeding rate is 5 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft., and 220 lbs. per acre.
No-Mow Grass

No-Mow Establishes Quickly

It thrives in most soil types and sun light conditions, but does not tolerate heavy shade or poorly drained clay. The minimum height for mowing is 3 – 4 inches, which, depending upon the preferred result, may require mowing once or twice a year.

Site Preparation

No-Mow should be planted on a prepared site from which all competing species have been removed. Seeds can be hand-broadcast or distributed with a grass-seed spreader and should be lightly raked-in and then watered well for the first two months when needed. Germination can be expected in one to two weeks.

Grass Selection

Choose a grass that's a natural for your area. These grasses can live on rainfall alone in their native Western ranges.

  • Desert: Fine fescue, spring-planted buffalo grass, or blue grama.
  • Northern California and the Northwest: Fine fescue and hair grass (Deschampsia).
  • Rocky Mountain: Buffalo grass or blue grama below 6,500 feet; fine fescue above. Plant all in spring.
  • Southern California: Fine fescue, spring-planted 'UC Verde' buffalo grass (along coast).

Meadow Grass Profiles

  • Blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) – Native to the western Great Plains. A bunching perennial grass, it grows 1 to 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide. Stems carry flowers on one side only. Give it full sun, little water. Best in Sunset climate zones 1–3, 7–11, 14, 18–21.
  • 'Hachita' – Goes well with natives and perennials; if you don't mow it, it can become an artificial short-grass prairie.
  • Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) – Native from Montana to Mexico and east to Louisiana. Grows 4 to 8 inches tall; has gray-green color in summer, straw color in winter. Turf varieties are selected for density and greener color.
  • 'Prestige' – Good in mild-winter areas.
  • 'UC Verde' – Developed by the University of California, this doesn't go dormant along the Southern California coast and in mild areas, but inland (Riverside, for example), it is fall and winter dormant.

For detailed information on No-Mow Grow Grass, please download this excellent PDF publication from the University of California - Davis on "No-Mow Fineleaf Fescue Grasses for California Landscapes." Resources: Plant A No-Mow Grow Lawn, Sunset; About No-Mow Lawn Seed Mix, Prairie Nursery

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Plant Of The Month

Agave americana Is the type species for the genus Agave. This species is probably the Agave most commonly grown as an ornamental plant, and has spread throughout the temperate and tropical areas of the world.

Because of extensive propagation, its exact origin is uncertain although it probably came from Mexico. Agave americana was an early introduction to Europe from the New World and was described by Linnaeus as the type species for the genus. The huge leaves, up to 6 ft long, are an important source of fiber. The large flower stalk generally two years to grow and flower.

Agave americana is undoubtedly the most tolerant of all the Agaves which explains its wide feral distribution. Specimens even survive in pots or in the ground in the wet winters around London and along the south coast of England. At the other extreme it may be seen planted out in the scorching sun of Southern Arizona and Texas.

The interior of the leaves contains longitudinal fibers representing the vascular system. Agave leaf fiber was used by native Americans. Agave fiber from a range of species is of commercial importance, with the best quality fiber coming from the youngest leaves.

Sisal (hemp) made from cultivated Agave sisalana is used to make clothing and rugs. The fibers connect to the terminal spine so the assembly can be used as needle and thread.

Carbohydrates stored in the core of several species of Agave were fermented by native Americans to make a beverage called pulque which was used in religious ceremonies.

Distillation of a similar ferment made from the developing Agave flower bud is the basis for modern production of Mezcal. Only if made from the Blue Agave within Tequila, Mexico can the distillate be called Tequila.

Source: The Succulent Plant Page

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