Caltrans landscape architects partnered with academia and local business to develop native grass sod that is now available across California. Doug Brown was the landscape architect and project manager for the state-funded research project that led to the development of this brand new product. Before the study there wasn’t such a thing as native grass sod.
Golden grass-covered hills dotted with majestic oaks conjure images of iconic California landscapes. Preserving and establishing these kinds of native grasslands is a priority in creating and managing sustainable landscapes. Native grasses are especially sustainable, tolerating drought; requiring little irrigation, fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides; and demanding less mowing. Though they may be golden brown in the warm seasons, native grasses are truly the most ‘green’.
California’s harsh climate, lack of rain and invasive weeds make it difficult to establish native grasses using traditional seeding practices, whereas sod provides instant cover that can be established quickly. Though deep-rooted native grasses seem like an unlikely candidate for sod harvesting, university laboratory studies and field-testing ultimately produced viable native grass sod mixes that were further refined and made commercially available by sod growers.