Blue Grama Grass and Creeping Red Fescue

Apr 17, 2023

Blue Grama Grass and Creeping Red Fescue

Apr 17, 2023

by Melody Kendall

One of the ways to conserve water in your landscape is to reduce or remove your thirsty lawn and replace it with a more water friendly option. Water reduction can be achieved by using native grasses and grass-like plants in place of turf. This article will detail information about three lawn replacement options: Bouteloua (blue grama grass), Creeping Red Fescue ‘Molate', and California Native All-Purpose Grass Seed Mixture.

Bouteloua Bouteloua gracilis

This is one of the shortest North American native grasses at 2 ½-3 feet tall. It has tall flowering stems above 3' wide clumps of grey-green tufts of foliage. The flowers look like small horizontal brushes that start out a chartreuse hue, turning into blonde as they age. These flowers will remain through the winter and the foliage will stay green during the winter months in mild areas. It will go dormant during the winter in hot inland areas. It is a full sun perennial; once established it only requires water every 4-6 weeks and will withstand heat and cold both. It will do well in most types of soil and can take moderate foot traffic and is deer resistant.

Red Fescue ‘Molate' (Festuca rubra - Molate strain)

This plant was discovered on Point Molate near Richmond, California. This is one of the largest forms of native fescue and it grows in 12-18' tall drifts of grey-green foliage that produce 3' tall flowers. It is a good choice to form meadows or to fill in parking strips. Plant the fescue in full sun, but it prefers some afternoon shade in hotter climates. It is more drought tolerant than other fescues, although it does require some water away from the coast. This plant is also deer resistant.

Over the past four weeks we have presented information about a few of the many turf grass replacement options. These plant suggestions have given you some information and ideas on how to create a totally different look when replacing your lawn: groundcovers, Ca. native grasses, low-water landscape plants, xeriscape and succulent/cactus to fill in a newly cleared landscape area.

Napa Master Gardeners are available to answer garden questions by email: or phone at 707-253-4143.  Volunteers will get back to you after they research answers to your questions.

Visit our website: to find answers to all of your horticultural questions.

Photo credits:

Information links:

Calscape: Bouteloua (blue grama grass)

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