Turf Alternatives

With so much of our urban and suburban environment covered by impermeable surfaces (roofs, streets, parking lots, etc.), how we choose to plant our remaining green spaces has critical consequences for water and habitat quality. Turf alternatives are low-growing ground covers that can supplement or replace Kentucky blue and other traditional turf grasses and still provide the benefits we look for in a lawn.

For more guidance on installing your turf alternative project, check out the Resilient Yards Online Learning Series.

Traditional Turfgrass Turf Alternatives
Require frequent mowing, chemicals (that don’t stay where they’re applied), and substantial irrigation to stay green through the summer. Require less water and fertilizer than Kentucky bluegrass, most options require less mowing. Low maintenance while maintaining aesthetics and function.
Does a poor job of infiltrating water into the ground to be cleaned and cooled naturally—contributing to runoff that pollutes our lakes and rivers. The deeper roots of turf alternatives help prevent soil erosion, filter contaminants from water, and sequester carbon.
Offers nothing to the beneficial insects we rely on to pollinate our gardens and control pests. Flowering pollinator lawns provide high-quality forage for native bees. Low-maintenance turf has higher disease and insect resistance.

How you typically use your lawn can help you choose which type of turf alternative is best for you. Explore your options below:

  • Pollinator Lawn

    Pollinator Lawn

    A Pollinator Lawn introduces a diversity of low-growing flowering plants into a typical lawn. This provides forage for pollinators, and the plants have deeper roots that need less watering. If you are not concerned with having a uniform carpet of green lawn in frequently-used areas, this may be the best option to help restore the ecological function of your yard.
    Pollinator Lawn
  • Low-Maintenance Turf

    Low-Maintenance Turf

    Low-Maintenance Turf functions as a typical lawn but is composed of species that require less water and fewer inputs. This option may be appealing if you want to keep the appearance of a traditional lawn and have areas of frequent or intense use.
    Low-Maintenance Turf
  • Perennial Ground Cover

    Perennial Ground Cover

    Perennial Ground Cover can be created from a mix of tightly-knit grasses and flowering plants. If you have low-use, low-foot traffic areas and welcome a non-traditional look, this option offers the maximum ecological impact—though it requires an investment of planning, time, and money, and has higher maintenance needs at first.
    Perennial Ground Cover