Turf To Prairie

Why make the transition?

Converting some areas of your turf to prairie could lead to significantly positive effects on the ecology, and save you money doing it!

                                      Bushy Creek State Park's beautiful prairie land.                                        
                                         Converted turf at University of Northern Iowa.                                      
              Prairie grass can be a home for the Monarch, at Tallgrass Prairie Center.          

Benefits of turf to prairie conversion

Native prairies stronger at fighting off weeds Improved soil retention and health Increased storm water and groundwater filtration Enhanced beauty of your yard, park and school

Need more details?

Here are some additional resources to help you understand the details of transitioning from high-maintenance turf into beautiful, native prairie.

pdfGood Neighbor Iowa’s Turf-to-Prairie information brochure
pdfGuide to Prairie Restoration
pdfBenefits of prairies (curated by the Tallgrass Prairie Center)
pdfHow to stablish prairie (curated by the Tallgrass Prairie Center)
pdfHow to maintain prairie (curated by the Tallgrass Prairie Center)
pdfTurf-to-prairie contractor list (curated by the Tallgrass Prairie Center

Tallgrass Prairie Seed Calculator

The Tallgrass Prairie Center hosts a a free online tool that allows you to build a custom native prairie seed mix, estimate the cost for each mix and view contact information for Iowa’s top native vendors. To use the seed calculator and to learn more about it, click here

Conversion can be part of your fight against climate change

Carbon dioxide acts like a blanket and traps the heat energy from the sun, increasing surface temperatures–a phenomenon commonly referred to as climate change.

An increase in trapped Carbon in the soil is a potentially important strategy for reducing carbon dioxide emission in the atmosphere

The growth characteristic of prairie grass (they tend to regrow without extensive attention or seeding and increase in numbers every year) increases the amount of carbon in the soil, and improves soil quality

Conversely, turf grasses have a shorter root system and don’t have the capacity to store as much carbon in the soil as prairie grass. They also require a lot more effort to maintain; mowing, irrigating, and fertilizing activities require lots of energy and release additional carbon into the atmosphere.
The pie chart below compares their storage capacities (grams of carbon per squared meter per year)

Source for pie chart figures: Purakayastha, T.J., Huggins, D.R., Smith, J.L. (2008). Carbon Sequestration in Native Prairie, Perennial Grass, No-Till, and Cultivated Palouse Silt Loam. Soil & Water Management & Conservation, 72(2), 534-540.doi:10.2136/sssaj2005.0369

Financial benefits of turf-to-prairie

Converting a certain area of mowed turf in your property into prairie will help you save in the long run. Want to see how much you could save over 5 years? Use our free Savings Visualizer tool below! Simply enter the area (in acres) of mowed turf in your property that you are considering converting to prairie

Area of mowed turf you want to convert to prairie: