Texas Community Developer Ditches Grass for Native Plants

Native grasses, wildflowers and wetland reeds are “more sustainable” and provide “more natural look”.

As reported by the Houston Business Journal, a Dallas-based real estate developer is going for a more “natural look” with respect to the landscaping at an 11,400-acre master-planned community northwest of Houston. That’s right—instead of lush green, perfectly manicured St. Augustine and Bermuda grass, the developer is opting for native grasses, wildflowers and tall wetlands reeds.

Peter Houghton, Howard Hughes' vice president of master-planned communities, said the natural, drought-tolerant grass requires less water and mowings to maintain, which saves on costs and helps the environment. Typically, traditional grass landscaping demands regular watering and 40 or more mowings a year, he said.

As Texas' population is expected to double by 2050, residential developers are becoming more concerned that this growth will exacerbate current drought conditions, hampering future development across the state, including Houston. Houghton says he is well aware of this looming water shortage.

It can be a challenge getting homeowners on board with ditching the traditional grass-based landscape, however. "We need to set that expectation upfront," Houghton said. "It's an educational process."