One of the ways to reduce water consumption is having turf that requires less water than a conventional bluegrass lawn. Native plants provide a solution to the water-needy turf grass. Re-establishing native groundcover offers many benefits, such as no fertilizer or herbicide needed. Also, there is no mowing that needs to be done and very little watering.
A prairie yard may well work for you if you have at least a quarter acre of land in full sunlight for all or most of the day, soil with a high sand content and good drainage, and no trees on or near the area designated for prairie plants.
Planting a prairie yard is much different than a conventional yard. You will need to kill all existing vegetation, which may take several applications of herbicide and is best done in the fall. An additional application of herbicide the following spring will usually produce the best results. Late spring and early summer planting of already-started plants and grasses will give you the desired results, with watering and hand weeding being part of the new plant care regime. Also, consulting with a native plant expert will add to your chances of success.
Once established, the prairie will not require artificial watering, but may require some hand weeding. Ideal results are achieved if the prairie area is burned at least every other year, or every year if possible. In Ramsey, there are many fine examples of healthy prairie plantings on both public and private land.
For properties that may not be ideal for a prairie installation, you may want to consider a meadow planting instead. This type of landscape includes shade tolerant plants with lower watering requirements. Consult with a reputable supplier of native plants to receive the best advice on how to proceed.
More information on prairie and meadow-type yards can be found at the following links: