One of the big water hogs in residential neighborhoods is the traditional lawn. Many movements have begun to reduce the use of horticultural chemicals that are causing problems in streams, causing distortions of wildlife physical maturity (frogs with extra legs, etc.), and causing the extinction of many butterflies.
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower center is reporting new research on the success of mixed native grasses used to replace traditional lawns grasses. The mixed native grasses require less mowing and as a result reduce the use of fossil fuels and pollution.
They require less water since they are adapted to your climate.
This isn't a new idea. Here's a website called Less Lawn with an article from 2001!
The University of TX at Austin has completed the recent research and their report is here.
Their suggested seeds:
"From our on-going research here at the Wildflower Center, we have found that a mix of
Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss),
Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) and
Hilaria belangeri (curly-mesquite)) needs less mowing, watering and weeding and simulates nature's shortgrass prairies.
Although different species, these grasses have almost identically shaped leaves and color and produce a great-looking, even-textured, dense lawn.
They are available from native seed suppliers such as Native American Seed and other seed suppliers.
For every 1000 square feet you will need 2lb of buffalograss, 1½ lb of bluegrama and at least 4 oz of curly mesquite. "
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden also has recommendations for replacing traditional lawns with Sedge and Buffalograsses.
Or, how about replacing part of the lawn with a wildflower meadow? All About Lawns has good ideas.
The Ecological Landscape Association has suggestions for Californians who would be willing to make an environmentally sustainable change.
For Florida gardeners, here's a link with suggestions.
Wherever you live and how ever you garden, consider reducing the environmental burden of your traditional lawn space.