· Imagine Dallas for a moment. Not the largest metropolitan area with over a million people, but historic Dallas. I know what you are thinking of - miles and miles of… turfgrass! Am I right? No? Well, according to the city planners in Dallas, a nice green lawn is exactly what they had in mind. A homeowner with a slightly longer view of history has incurred the ire of the Landmark Commission of Junius Heights Historic District for his “historically inappropriate” yard of cacti, yucca, mesquite, agave, and native prairie grasses.
I realize that the city planners want things to look nice – that is, how things looked when they were growing up in the 60’s , 70’s and 80’s – but I have to question the appropriateness of sod in northern Texas. To begin with, this area was historically covered with mixed prairie: a super diverse mix of grasses, cacti, and yucca. Even if the Landmark commission adheres to a very short view of history, the ecological appropriateness of using dwindling water supplies to support non-native invasive turfgrass seems misguided and foolish. As is the case in many cities in the Southwest, water supply is dwindling, while water demand is skyrocketing. In 2003 the average Dallas citizen used almost 240 gallons of water a day.
Xeriscaping seems the most appropriate and responsible choice. And prairies can be beautiful! Check out these photos from the largest remnant of pristine tallgrass prairie. Waves of rolling prairie grasses would be a gorgeous addition to suburbia.