The Skinny on “Miracle Grass”

Today’s piece on the “New Uber-Grass” on WBUR made me pause at this busy time of year to weigh in on these branded grass blends that promise great results with minimal maintenance:

I was tickled to hear this story on a day when we were reviewing lawn installation with our crews!  Having designed, installed and maintained many organic and sustainable landscapes using this and other products, I’d say that like many other high quality, weed-free grass seed mixes, Pearl’s can be  sustainable choice for the appropriate application and with good soil preparation and maintenance.

However, a lawn’s success depends on proper seed selection for the conditions.  Fescue blends like Pearl’s will perform better than the standard bluegrass in light shade, and as advertised, will require less inputs of water and nitrogen.  The tradeoff is that fescues grow in clumps rather than spreading, and so are less tolerant of wear from regular foot traffic. Many of us want lawn area for kids and pets to play on, so in those conditions, fescue requires regular overseeding to create a dense turf.

Any well-maintained turf, organic or conventional, will require some upfront cost for good soil preparation, as well as ongoing inputs of maintenance and materials.  Consumers concerned about sustainability, whether environmental or economic, should limit lawn areas to the size necessary for play and enjoyment, rather than using turf as the default landscape element for its relatively low up-front cost.