Here's the Los Angeles Times article to which this following was posted as a "comment:"
Turf grass may be useful for sports fields and even small areas - if maintained like the university expert suggests, plus aerated yearly and cared for organically. As kids get just a little older, they also like to play on things that challenge them: like rocks, trees, etc. And there are better choices for small areas, where a baby's tush or face isn't a factor: like (hybrid varieties of) native grasses or a ground cover like dymondia. We need to question non-functional turf grass areas.
Yet, turf grass vs. non-turf grass is not what most are discussing. Rather, it's getting more bang for the buck from the landscape. As Los Angeles-based TreePeople has said, just 1" of rain generates 3.8 Billion gallons of (polluted) runoff in Los Angeles. Surfrider's approach is called Ocean Friendly Gardens, which "apply CPR - Conservation, Permeability and Retention - to landscapes and hardscapes to revive our watersheds, waterways and oceans:"
- Use rainwater as a first source of irrigation.
- Create healthy soil and make hard surfaces permeable to allow rainwater to be captured, cleansed and absorbed.
- Conserve water, energy, and wildlife habitat through native plants. (Fruit and veggies gardens can apply CPR, too.)
It's part of our integrated approach to water called www.knowyourh2o.org. Los Angeles Department of Water & Power is developing a Stormwater Capture Master Plan to compliment their turf replacement program and Metropolitan Water District's holistic class, the California Friendly Landscape Training. In surveys we've done, people say they'd take advantage of landscape rebates if they could find a competent professional to coach them. That is why Surfrider chapters have worked with training companies like G3/Green Gardens Group to do hands-on workdays to train the workforce.
(I forgot to add that an OFG can capture much more carbon than turf grass.)