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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - September 17, 2014

From: Kensington, CA
Region: California
Topic: Groundcovers, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Alternative for HABITURF® in Contra Costa County, CA
Answered by: Nan Hampton


We live in Kensington, just north of Berkeley, in the San Francisco area. We intend to get rid of our water consuming lawn and we are wondering what kind of alternative you would suggest. You don't specifically recommend your Habiturf for California.


Habiturf® is recommended for Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona, but there is a California alternative called UC Verde Buffalograss developed by UC Davis and UC Riverside for the hot dry climate of California and lower Arizona.

The City of Santa Barbara has an ariticle, Water Wise Lawn Alternatives, that has three possibilities that grow in, or adjacent to, Contra Costa County:

Here are some possibilities that aren't grass or grass-like:

Epilobium canum (Hummingbird trumpet)  Here is more information from San Franciso Botanical Garden and Las Pilitas Nursery.

Armeria maritima (Thrift seapink)  Here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery and from Perennial Resource.

Fragaria chiloensis (Beach strawberry)  Here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery and from Marin Master Gardeners.


From the Image Gallery

Hummingbird trumpet
Epilobium canum ssp. angustifolium

Thrift seapink
Armeria maritima

Thrift seapink
Armeria maritima

Beach strawberry
Fragaria chiloensis

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