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Turf Alternatives

Traditional turf, which is introduced cool season grasses, has long been the choice in turf management. The components of traditional turf are as follows, but notice not many benefits are included.

  • Expensive to Maintain- Requires 30 or more mowing events per year
  • Requires Water to Keep Green in the Summer-When cool season turf grass is introduced, it is traditionally mowed short and does not establish sufficient root depth to go through a typical summer without water. It tends to go dormant, turning brown to conserve resources and survive and greens up again in the fall.
  • Herbicide Use to Control Broadleaf Weeds-Costs are associated with application and there are potential negative impacts or unintended consequences due to use.
  • Environmental Impacts- Increased runoff due to lack of root system, minimal to zero habitat or pollinator value, unintended consequences from herbicide and insecticide use (residual insecticide impact can harm pollinators; unintentional killing of beneficial predator insects can lead to increases in harmful insect populations, killing caterpillars can eliminate food sources for birds causing population crashes), and unnecessary water consumption

Alternative replacements to traditional turf are becoming increasingly popular. These low maintenance fescue mixes and native plantings are beneficial for a number of reasons including:

  • Cost Effective to Maintain- Mainly due to reduced mowing; turf management can vary depending on species in permanent matrix (see individual mixes for additional information)
  • Environmental Impacts- Minimization of resource inputs(no fertilizer, no watering, minimized use of herbicides, no insecticides)
  • Annual Mowing- Saves on fuel costs and time
  • Provides Habitat- Critical habitat and food sources for pollinators, birds and others.
  • Increase in Diversity and Promotes Healthy Ecosystems
  • Raise Awareness- Brings attention to the need to live within the ecosystem and not outside it.
  • Beautification

Ohio Prairie Nursery offers several mixes suitable for Turf Alternatives. Some of them include:

Freedom Lawn I (LML01)

  • Preferred for areas that will not require repetitive mowing
  • Minimum mowing height is 4 inches, but 6 inches or higher is preferred
  • Grows to approximately 1 to 1 1/2 feet tall
  • Can be managed for weeds with traditional broadcast turf methods
  • Introduced cool season fine fescue mix- includes 3 different fine fescue bunch grasses (Sheep Fescue, Hard Fescue, Chewing Fescue)
  • Usually established in 2 growing seasons
  • Full sun or shade tolerant
  • Reduced Mowing
  • Reduced Water Consumption
  • Annual Rye Grass can be used as a cover crop for erosion control. Meets EPA requirements

Freedom Lawn II (LMLM02)

  • Preferred for areas that will be mowed more frequently
  • Grows to approximately 1 to 1 1/2 feet tall
  • Minimum mowing height is 4 inches, but 6 inches or higher is preferred
  • Can be managed for weeds with traditional broadcast turf methods
  • Introduced cool season fine fescues with Kentucky Bluegrass-includes 3 different fine fescue bunch grasses (Sheep Fescue, Hard Fescue, Chewing Fescue), Creeping Red Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass
  • Usually established in two growing seasons
  • Full sun or shade tolerant
  • Reduced mowing
  • Reduced water consumption
  • Annual Rye Grass can be used as a cover crop for erosion control. Meets EPA requirements

Native Component Low Maintenance Lawn (NCLML01)

  • Preferred for areas that will not require repetitive mowing
  • Grows to 3 feet in height
  • Mix of introduced cool season fescue and native warm season grasses for increased drought tolerance
  • Increased habitat benefits due to increased diversity and height
  • Annual Mowing- Spring (preferred in order to take advantage of winter habitat benefits) and late fall (after seed has matured is second choice)
  • Can be managed for weeds with traditional broadcast turf methods
  • Contains 3 different fine fescue bunch grasses (Sheep Fescue, Hard Fescue and Chewing Fescue) and 3 different native warm season grasses (Little Bluestem, Side-oats Grama and Blue Grama)
  • Usually established in two growing seasons
  • Prefers full sun, but can tolerate light shade or tree lines
  • Reduced mowing
  • Reduced water consumption
  • Annual Rye Grass can be used as a cover crop for erosion control. Meets EPA requirements

Short Native Grass Mix (SNGM01)

  • Preferred for areas that will not require repetitive mowing
  • Reaches heights up to 3 feet tall
  • Composed entirely of native grasses
  • Increased habitat benefits due to increased diversity and height
  • Annual mowing in the Spring is preferred in order to take advantage of winter habitat benefits, but can be mowed in late Fall after seed has matured
  • Can be managed for weeds with traditional broadcast turf methods
  • Includes 4 different native warm season grasses (Little Bluestem, Side-oats Grama, Blue Grama and Prairie Dropseed)
  • Ususally established in 2 growing seasons
  • Prefers full sun, but can tolerate light shade or tree lines
  • Annual or biennial maintenance recommended
  • No external water consumption
  • Optional Annual Rye cover crop can be used for erosion control; meets EPA requirements

Native Short Grass Meadow (NSGM03)

  • Preferred for areas that will not require repetitive mowing
  • Mix of native warm season grasses and wildflowers (forbs)
  • Grasses reach heights of 3 to 4 feet
  • Forbs vary in height- approximately 1 to 5 feet
  • Increases habitat benefits due to increased diversity and height
  • Spring mowing is preferred in order to take advantage of winter habitat benefits, but can be mowed in late Fall after seed has matured
  • Invasive Species or Undersirables Management- should be done by trained professionals. Methods include spot treatment with appropriate herbicide, backpack foliar application, wick applicator, hand cutting or pulling and cutting and baggin seed heads.
  • Preliminary establishment in 2 to 3 growing seasons and continues to mature over time
  • Annual or biennial maintenance recommended
  • No external water consumption
  • Can use Annual Rye Grass as a cover crop for erosion control; meets EPA requirements

Also available is Native Tall Grass Meadow (NTGM01). Applies the same elements as above with native cool and warm season tall grasses (Canada Wild Rye, Virginia Wild Rye, Big Bluestem and Indian Grass) instead of short grasses.

Seed Specifications for Turf Alternatives:

Low Maintenance Lawns:

Medium Moisture Levels:

NCLMLM01 Native Component Low Maintenance Lawn Mix

LMLM01 Low Maintenance Lawn Mix I

LMLM02 Low Maintenance Lawn Mix II

MTG04 Mesic Tall Grass IV

Native Grass Lawn:

Medium Moisture Levels:

MSG04 Mesic Short Grass IV

MMXG03 Mesic Mixed Height Grass Mix III

MTG04 Mesic Tall Grass IV

Native Grass and Wildflower Lawn

Medium Moisture Levels:

NSGM03 Native Short Grass Meadow III

MMXGM03 Mesic Mixed Height Grass Mix III

NTGM03 Native Tall Grass Meadow III