Traffic- and Drought-Tolerant Nongrass Alternatives for Yards

12 October 2015
 Categories: , Blog


The drought in the western United States is really taking its toll, and even predictions of a strong rainy season ahead aren't enough to set everyone at ease regarding water use. If you're a homeowner in a region affected by this drought, you've likely stopped watering your lawn and have severely reduced your water usage. Unfortunately, the barren expanse that now inhabits your property doesn't look so nice. Here are some drought-tolerant alternatives that could help you keep your lawn green and walkable without using too much water.

Specially Bred Drought-Resistant Grass

It's not unusual to find lawn grass that doesn't need that much water, but horticulturalists have been working on creating varieties that are super-low water users. One such variety is UC Verde buffalo grass, a variant of native buffalo grasses found on plains. UC Verde was bred specifically by the University of California at Riverside for use in very low-water environments such as inland Southern California, and it uses only about one-fourth the amount of water regular lawn grass would need. Check with your city to see if installing UC Verde will get you any financial incentives or additional breaks on your water bill.

Dutch Clover

Before clover gained a reputation as a weed, it was considered normal to find a lot of clover mixed in with regular grass. It survived droughts well and was also a nitrogen-fixing plant. The Chicago Tribune says it became known as a weed because it simply didn't make lawns look uniform. However, it is an excellent addition for lawns that have soil lacking in nitrogen and that can't get a lot of water in summer. The one real problem with clover is that it does attract bees, which can be frightening if you have a bee allergy. But if you don't, letting clover mix with your lawn grass could help you keep your lawn green but water-efficient.

Woolly Thyme

This is a non-edible thyme that forms dense mats in areas where there isn't a lot of water. If you're in an area that tends to not get a lot of rain even when there isn't a drought, woolly thyme could work well because it can't handle a lot of moisture. Be sure your soil is well-draining so that an unexpected summer downpour doesn't destroy the ground cover.

If you'd like more options for a drought-resistant lawn, talk to a landscape design company that specializes in managing drought-prone landscapes. They'll show you how native plants, rock gardens, and drought-resistant ground covers can all help your home stay green.