SAN ANTONIO – Yellow patchy grass, to no grass at all, it’s what a lot of San Antonio lawns look like right now after a brutal summer drought and record breaking temperatures.
And if your lawn is green, it took a lot of watering. Local certified plant expert Crystal Orr with The Garden Center says most lawn grasses aren’t native and it was a tradition brought over from Europe many years ago, where there is more rain and cloud coverage.
”I think people brought that over with them because that is what they were used to seeing and then it became this thing as status,” Orr said.
So with the heat, are there other more sustainable options?
Well, you may have seen a viral trend on TikTok that calls for a switch from grass to clover. It boasts that clover takes less watering, and you only have to mow once or twice a year. It also harps on that fact that it makes you feel like you are living in a cozy cottage.
But native plant expert Lee Marlow, with the San Antonio River Authority, says not so fast.
”An important thing to do here with this trend is to put a Texas twist on it, use our local or Texas native species,” Marlow said.
Marlow is a sustainable landscape ecologist for the San Antonio River Authority.
She said clover isn’t native to South Texas and won’t stay lush and green year-round like TikTok videos are showing in other parts of the country. Instead, she said there are several native ground cover options:
It can grow in shade or full sun, requires little water and pollinators love it.
If you want something that looks similar to grass, this is a great option. It stays lush even through the winter months. Make sure to plant this in a low traffic area.
This is another stunner that stays low to the ground and blooms beautiful purple flowers for pollinators.
You may already have in your yard and considered it a weed. Let this take over your grass. It is heat and drought tolerant, and it produces little yellow flowers, which pollinators love.
Any Texas Wildflower:
If you want to forget the mowing and watering, have patches of flowers. Seed your ground with Texas wildflower packs this fall. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s website is an excellent resource for all of the options. If you are looking for where to purchase the seeds, you can find them at Native American Seed, which also has lots of native options with guidance on how to care for them.
Going native will also cut back on your time and spending, Orr said.
”If you plant native in your yard, it will reduce your cost by 20 to 50 percent,” Orr said. “That includes water, pest spray, fertilizer which all those things are really bad for the environment.”
Orr stresses never to use pesticides or fertilizers when it comes to planting native, it will harm pollinators and defeats the purpose of going native.
Most importantly, Marlow said planting native supports our local ecosystems fight against habitat loss and climate change.
”There are a lot of critters that depend on these native plants,” Marlow said. “There is a huge concern globally about the loss of bio-diversity.”
She said planting native provides a food and shelter for bees, butterflies and birds.