Throw Off Conformity!

June 16, 2017. By Cassy Aoyagi: Angelenos lead in the nation in the creativity and diversity of our architecture, our fashion, our tech. So, why do we continue to dump fertilizers and pesticides around our homes in a desperate attempt to look like one another? To look like suburban Ohio? We can do better!

We have around 6400 plants native to California, and more than 7 grasses that thrive year round in LA. Each has a distinctive aesthetic and many have delightful colors or textures only attainable here in Los Angeles. Here are just a few of our favorite looks.

Yarrow Meadow, Yarrow Lawn

There are few lawn alternatives more visually arresting and flexible than California native Yarrows (Achillea millefolium). We find its aesthetic an optimally compelling complement to natural and classic landscape styles.
When left to grow to meadow length, Yarrow produces delightful blooms that appear to dance in the breeze. In addition to the white blooms featured here, Yarrow blooms come in bright yellows and pinks to deep reds. Each variety also has a distinctive foliage color, some a yellow-green similar to a traditional lawn, others a distinctively California silver.

As a mowed lawn, Yarrows create a feathery, soft look, and its foliage, whether true or silver-green, maintains its color year round. In addition to creating a historically relevant front garden at the Santa Monica property featured above, it keeps the property’s parkway green and lush year round. Another bonus? This is the only lawn alternative eligible for MWD’s latest cash for grass rebates.

Carex Pansa Lawn, Carex Pansa Meadow

Carex Pansa Meadow, Carex Pansa LawnOne of the most flexible IdealMow grasses,Carex Pansa is hearty enough for foot traffic and play. It thrives in the high heat of the foothills as well as in coastal cool. While we frequently pair it with modern landscape aesthetics, the true yellow-green grass pairs well with a variety of architectural styles. It mimics a traditional lawn when mowed, but it is also attractive at meadow length.

As with other IdealMow lawn alternatives, Carex Pansa can be mowed for a tidy, traditional lawn aesthetic, or it can be left to grow to meadow length. When mowed, as we see above, Carex Pansa maintains a traditional yellow-green color and mat-like texture. When left to grow, it forms waves. In the photo below, it is paired with Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), which adds additional height and texture.

Red Fescue Lawn, Red Fescue Meadow

In sharp contrast to traditional lawn fescues, red fescue consumes much less water, particularly in the cooler microclimates of Los Angeles. While it can be mowed to form a velvety, emerald lawn, we find it most compelling at meadow length.

When planted on land that tilts at an angle, Red Fescue is not only an IdealMow lawn or meadow, it protects slopes. At any height, integrating or edging with blooms and accent grasses presents a rustic, natural look that pairs well with all architectural styles.


Learn more about Red Fescue IdealMow lawns and meadows.

Silver Lawns and Meadows

In my heart of hearts, I hope for a silver rush in Los Angeles. While LA can easily mimic the lush true green and even blue-green looks of other areas, California’s silver grasses and groundcovers are both authentic and distinctive to Mediterranean climates.

This silver rush started during the drought. South African Dymondia took LA by storm! While the silver groundcover offers a charming contrast to LA’s abundant Spanish tile roofs and uses little water, it can be onerous to maintain.
As a no or low-traffic groundcover, California native Silver Carpet makes a charming alternative to Dymondia. Like Dymondia, it will elegantly cover a space in silver foliage with delicate blooms through spring and summer and creates a bold landscape aesthetic that pairs well with Spanish and Mediterranean architecture.

There are other low maintenance silver lawn alternatives. A silver meadow can be created with Blue Sedge, aka Carex glauca, not to mention Festuca idahoensis ‘Tomales Bay’ or ‘Siskyou Blue.’ Because most silver grasses are mounding and planted in plugs, it is possible to create geometrical patterns, an interesting companion to modern designs. For a more rustic, natural look, Canyon Prince can add vertical interest and varied texture.

As the capital of creativity, I’m confident LA will eventually break free of the template-landscapes defined elsewhere. The first step is understanding just how many options we have! See More IdealMow Lawns and Meadows in Pinterest. To help connect your personal and architectural style to a specific IdealMow lawn or meadow, take out Landscape Style Quiz.