Why You Should Start a Pocket Prairie in Your Yard

Sourced from Houstonian Magazine

Summer is just around the corner, and the fear of having your perfectly trimmed lawn turn as yellow as an abandoned wheat field under Texas’s scorching heat is likely looming overhead. But with lawn maintenance contributing to groundwater pollution, adding to the infernal din of leaf blowers on our city streets, and perhaps offering its own perils—hundreds of thousands of Americans are injured by lawn mowers each year—isn’t it time to start thinking about your lawn in a new way?

Gabriel Durham, a sustainability coordinator at the University of Houston, certainly thinks so. Durham believes that prairie grass is the key to maintaining a more cost-efficient yard while also contributing positively to our flood-prone environment. But before you picture all our high-end neighborhoods and suburbs looking like wild grasslands, consider the benefits.

Typical carpet grasses such as St. Augustine and Bermuda are the most expensive crop in the nation, says Durham. “And they don’t produce anything,” she adds. “No food, no clothes, no fuel, no nothing, but we spend more money on them than on any plant collectively in the nation.”

Prairie grass is more affordable. It only needs to be mowed once a year. It aids in soil’s carbon sequestration, effectively pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and reducing climate change. It attracts birds and pollinators that are native to prairies. It’s drought tolerant, and the grass’s deep root system also helps offset soil erosion and flooding by soaking up excess stormwater and bayou overflow, thus reducing the rate at which a flood hastens downstream and the time it takes the water to recede.

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