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Rethink Your Lawn

A chemical-free lawn is safer for children and pets.

Lawns are everywhere in the American landscape. And while they can be useful for recreation or places where family members and employees can relax, they also have many disadvantages:

  • they require frequent watering to stay green in during our long dry season
  • lawn chemicals contribute to the pollution of our neighborhood creeks and rivers
  • power tools used to maintain lawns contribute to local air and water pollution
  • grass clippings from lawns fill our landfills and transporting them further contributes to air pollution

You can make your landscape more River-Friendly by:

  • limiting turf to those areas where it has a practical function, such as for play or recreation
  • accepting clover and other low growing plants in your lawn, thereby avoiding the use of herbicides to maintain a grass monoculture
  • selecting suitable turf varieties (see UC IPM Turfgrass)
  • keeping sprinkler system well-maintained
  • grasscycling
  • limiting the use of chemicals (see Our Water Our World, UC Guide to Healthy Lawns, and Pesticide Free Lawns Coalition)
  • using electric or hand-powered tools instead of gas-powered tools

Removing unneeded lawn and replacing it with California Native or Mediterranean plantings will:

  • reduce water consumption
  • reduce yard waste
  • reduce the use of herbicides, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers
  • reduce air pollution caused by power equipment
  • increase wildlife habitat

Grass alternatives, such as this California
Field Sedge, use less water than standard
lawn grasses.


Here are some links to get you started…

Grass alternatives:

Get ideas for your landscape by checking out the garden photos at


Is your landscape River-Friendly?
Use our benefits calculator to find out.

Here are some more in depth articles on specific RFL topics that you might find of interest:

Contest Winner

RFL Inspiration Garden

RFL Examples

Rain Gardens

Mulch, Grasscycling, and Compost

Get Mulching

Fertilize Naturally — Is Feeding Frenzy Really Needed?

Plant Trees, Save Energy!

Right Plant, Right Place!

Plant Selection

Plant Communities

Take Action to Save Water Outdoors…

Lawn Care: How Green is Your Grass?

Rethink Your Lawn

Pests Bugging You?

River-Friendly Pest Control

Managing Common Pests

Good Bugs

Interview about RFL (MP3)

Choose California natives first

Don't Blow It!

Reducing Outdoor Asthma Triggers


Watch the YouTube video
"Slow the Flow - Make Your Landscape Act Like a Sponge"
to learn about the importance of landscaping to stormwater quality.

The Seven Principles of
River-Friendly Landscaping

Click on any section to learn more