I would like to replace my existing lawn with natural grasses. I live just east of Bend, Oregon in the high desert. My goal is to reduce watering needs and mowing requirements. Because I live outside of town maintaining an effective fire perimeter is important. Any suggestions on replacing the lawn with a natural alternative?
A turfgrass stand is going to be one of the best plants in creating a defensible space within the first 30 feet of your home. Native grasses are not going to be very fire-resistant and are generally recommended to be used further out . Here is a publication on native plants including native grasses: Selecting Native Plants for Home Landscapes in Central Oregon.
Native grasses often used for restoration include Idaho fescue, Sandberg Bluegrass, or annual rye. You can hydroseed grasses at a rate of17 lb/acre or if you are dry seeding you would triple that rate.
Here is additional information on creating a defensible space: Fire-Resistant Plants for Home Landscapes.