Plant a no-mow lawn

Here's how to replace your thirsty lawn with a casual, easy-care meadow

  • Step 2. Prep soil
    Add a 3-inch layer of clean, weed-free topsoil; rake smooth. Or germinate weeds beforehand and dig in compost.

    no-mow-lawn-dig

    Kimberley Navabpour

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FESCUE
There are several forms of fescue, including Arizona fescue, California fescue, and native western fescue; some are sold by native turf specialists. The most commonly available fescues are listed below. One, chewings fescue, is a close European cousin of a native western fescue. You may also find hard fescue and sheep's fescue, both of which are used as meadow grasses in the West.

Creeping red fescue (Festuca rubra). Native from Canada to Mexico on the West Coast, Canada to Georgia on the East Coast, Europe, and North Africa. Grows to 3 feet tall as a meadow grass, or can be mowed for use as a turf grass. It's most drought tolerant when young; as it ages, thatch makes it less so (dethatching corrects the problem). Give it full sun or partial shade, little to moderate water. Seed only. Does well in zones A2, A3, 1–10, 14–24.

Chewings fescue (Festuca rubra commutata). Native to Europe, this grass tends to come in more densely than creeping red fescue. Grows 3 feet tall as a meadow grass, or can be mowed for use as a turf grass. Give it full sun or partial shade, little to moderate water. Seed only. Does well in zones A2, A3, 1–10, 14–24.

HAIR GRASS

Tufted hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa). Native from Alaska and Canada south to Northern California on the West Coast and North Carolina on the East Coast; also Eurasia and Greenland. Grows 1 to 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide, and produces clumps of dark green leaves. Airy inflorescences, which appear in late spring or summer, start green and fade to straw color; they can reach 4 feet. Give it full sun or partial shade, regular water (it can grow in damp meadows). A good meadow grass in zones 2–24.

Pacific hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa holciformis). Native from British Columbia to Monterey Bay. Grows 1 to 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide, and produces clumps of very dark green leaves. Inflorescences are narrow, coarse, and straw-colored. Give it full sun or partial shade, little to abundant water (it can take marshy or brackish locations). Best garden subject in zones 4–9, 14–24.

 

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