found a fairly useful script for creating poly grass (much quicker than using the fur preset, and far less daunting for someone not very tech savvy.
only problem is they made a few mistakes with the generate script, so copy the script to your script folder, restart Maya and in MEL write the following;
generateGrass long low 20 0.1 1 0.1 1;
thats it, might need to run it a couple of times with different values then combine the polys at the end.
Texture-wise, create a new Lambert, add a RAMP node to the colour output, set bottom colour to a dark brown, middle colour to a dark green and the top colour to a light green. you could go further and add a transparency RAMP, delete the bottom colour, set middle colour to black, move it closer to the top colour and set the top colour to white.
This is a very basic image but gives an idea of whats possible with 5 minutes to spare.