Artificial turf and other types of sustainable alternatives to normal grass are becoming more popular.

One of them is buffalograss, and it is getting a closer look by scientists and plant nurseries.

Buffalograss appears to be a standard lawn, but it has a long history in our continent. It is an endemic plant to North America, and is described as the only turfgrass native to our environment, explained Mohammad Pessarakli, Ph.D., research professor at the UA's School of Plant Sciences.

Pessarakli has been working with and teaching about turf grass since the 1990s. And, in recent years, interest in such has grown due to growing human populations and diminishing resources, such as water.

Lawns usually require fertilizers and a lot of water to remain healthy.

Homeowners, business owners and others are seeking more sustainable and environmentally friendly options to normal grass.

Experts say buffalograss is perfect for Tucson, as it flourishes in arid regions because it is drought resistant and enjoys direct sunlight.

By using selective breeding, scientists have been able to create various types of buffalograss, and some of these can be found at Civano Nursery, 5301 S. Houghton Road.

"I believe this grass is better for our environment," said Chris Shipley, owner of Civano Nursery. "Better than the alternatives that we use today."

Shipley also likes buffalograss because it requires very little maintenance. He said it only grows about eight inches, which means mowing the lawn moves from a weekly routine to a rare, annual activity.

Artificial Turf

Local schools are also joining the alternative, sustainable grass trend.

Artificial turf has grown in popularity in the past 10 years, primarily starting in the athletic field, said James DeRoussel, landscape architect and program manager at Watershed Management Group.

Many football fields, such as the one in Mountain View High School, now use artificial turf because it's dramatically cheaper to maintain than real grass.