looking for a sturdy "natural" lawn

Hello,
I have recently read a little about natural landscaping -- that is, using indigenous plants. There are plenty of benefits.
If someone here could help me with a problem, I would appreciate it: As far as I can tell, none of the local indigenous plants makes a sturdy lawn.
I live in Madison, Wisconsin. The native plants here include prairie grasses, wildflowers, and deciduous trees.
When you step on turf grass, it springs back immediately. You can't do that with prairie grasses and wildflowers. To the contrary, we see signs that say things like "Stay on the trail! The wild plants are fragile!"
What would you recommend for a natural lawn in Madison, Wisconsin?
Thank you very much! Ted Shoemaker
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It is difficult to replicate the effect of turf grasses with indigenous plants. Big expanses of lawns are a totally artificial gardening construct, ie., they do not occur naturally, only under cultivation. The best I could suggest is buffalo grass, Buchloe dactyloides, which is native of the low grass prairies and is used as a turf grass in high drought areas or to plant a meadow of native grasses and wildflowers and mow only in those areas where access is necessary or desired.
If you use the buffalo grass, you will still need to maintain it like other turf grasses to get the "lawn" effect.
http://www.easywildflowers.com/quality/buc.dacty.htm
pam - gardengal
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The other thing to think about is how much traffic most of the lawn actually gets. I'm in the process of replacing a large lawn the previous owners of my house maintained. I am planting it with natural plants, mulched garden, and alternative groundcover. I am not raising a soccer team, and most of the the actual tread wear on most of the lawn occurs when I cut it. I can easily and safely replace most of the grass with groundcover that is not extremely tolerant of foot traffic, but can handle it on an occasional basis.
billo
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Ted Shoemaker wrote:

What you plant depends on how you use your lawn. Is it a playground for the kids? Is it a shortcut that's constantly walked over? Is it space between flower beds? Is a window facing it the focal point of a room? Or is it just a large open space that does nothing?
If all you want is a big open space that looks like a "lawn", then stick with turf grass. Otherwise, what you plant depends on how you want your "lawn" to function.
--
Warren H.

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Ted Shoemaker wrote:

a month wack 'em again. In a year or so you will have a natural lawn.
Good luck with it.
Peter H
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