Turf has been a go-to option for many areas on a property whether it serves a functional benefit or not. But with water costs on the rise and higher expectations for outdoor environments by end-users, these grassy spaces are turning over. In fact, finding the right places where turf conversions makes sense not only saves water, but may also decrease your long-term maintenance costs. Read on for ideas to get you started.
Whether you're located in areas where drought has taken its toll or you're just looking to create a more sustainable landscape, replacing turf with less water-intensive alternatives is smart. To help jumpstart your thinking, we've gathered some water-wise options—from easy to more elaborate—for turf conversion projects.
Plant Xeriscape-Friendly Shrubs
Removing turf completely and replacing it with clusters of low-water-use shrubs like Abelia, Phormium, Coleonema, Nandina's and Oleanders can be an attractive option. Of course, when choosing among these drought-tolerant plants, consider how they'll blend in with your existing landscape and whether the finished look jibes with your long-term vision for your property. You don't want the area to look like an ill-planned patch job so take the time to think about this.
Extend Existing Shrubbery to Replace Turf
If it works aesthetically with your landscape, you could remove the turf and simply extend surrounding or adjacent shrub beds with similar plantings. The only downside to this alternative is if the shrubbery you're extending isn't water wise. In that case, this might not gain you better water management or a very updated look.
Blend Xeriscape-Friendly Shrubs with Existing Shrubbery
Mixing it up is a smart transitional approach. Go ahead and remove the turf and extend the existing shrubbery while adding in some low-water-use shrubs into the mix. This is an appealing option as it updates tired, worn out shrubbery that's grown woody and scores points for smart water management.
Convert the Space by Adding Hardscape
Finally, one of the smartest moves in terms of water management is to think long term and incorporate decomposed granite, cobblestone or some kind of decorative paver or stone, as well as drought-tolerant plantings, into the area you're rehabbing.
Obviously you'll want to consider the surroundings, traffic patterns and your overall landscape before doing this. But if this move is simpatico with your landscape, it's a water efficient and attractive choice. It's also the costliest but money spent on this project could be savings gained in terms of water use and increased property value.
Consider Changing to Drip Irrigation
While you’re converting your turf, you might also consider removing overhead spray or rotor sprinklers and replacing them with drip irrigation. Depending on the area you're renovating and the existing configuration for your landscape and irrigation system, this could be challenging. But if your budget allows it and the change will work, the water cost savings could be worth it.
Help Fund Your Project with Rebates
When undertaking turf conversion projects, it pays to check with your local water authority to see if your project qualifies for any of the cash-for-grass rebate programs. Typically these programs require that you replace grass with qualified low-water-use plants and xeriscaping. Every rebate program differs so check in with your local water authority before undertaking any extensive turf replacement work.
The Right Thing for Your Budget & the Planet
Replacing green lawn with low-water-use plants and/or hardscaping doesn't have to be an aesthetic sacrifice. As noted above, there are lots of ways to go about it and the results can help to modernize your landscape, reduce long-term maintenance costs and, done well, increase your property value.