How can people make sure that they are planting environmentally responsible lawns?
Plant the right variety of grass. Hundreds of varieties of turfgrass exist, and some of them are perfect for drought conditions. For instance, buffalo and Bermuda are very drought-friendly varieties. They can survive the heat and require less water.
What are the best ways to keep lawns healthy and minimize water use?
Your lawn will be healthier if you have a drought-resistant variety of grass planted (if you live in a drought challenged area). Also, given we live in cities and suburbs where we must incorporate plants into an area with a lot of concrete, asphalt, people, and traffic, native and drought-resistant adaptive species can help your yard. You want to nurture the ecosystem in your yard, as well. Incorporate pollinator plants for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
You can cut back on watering and your grass will survive. In water-challenged areas, we must get out of the mindset that all plants must stay green all the time. Grass will turn brown when it goes into dormancy. Turfgrass is incredibly resilient. It will spring back to green when rain returns.
Many people don’t know that grass gets lazy if you water it too much, sending its roots horizontally. With little water, grass will send its roots deeper and vertically, seeking water. Having to work harder makes grass do a better job of sequestering carbon and releasing oxygen.
How can people respond to pressure to take out grass?
Be open and honest. Share what you know about grass and its benefits, such as its ability to produce oxygen, sequester carbon, capture and filter storm water run-off, and cool the air (fewer cooling bills!). Also, share what type of variety you are using and how you take care of it. Be clear about why you have chosen to keep your turfgrass and what you are doing to conserve water.