En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - January 27, 2014

From: Denison, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seeds and Seeding, Drought Tolerant, Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native turf grass for acreage in Denison TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have recently moved to Denison TX where we have 5+ acres of true crosstimbers land. I am looking for a native turf grass that will do well in sandy soil and with the water provided by nature. The most listed type for this area is buffalo grass; however, it is not recommended for sandy soil which we definitely have. Also, I am allergic to bermuda grass. As a result, I don't want to use it.

ANSWER:

You are correct that Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) does not like sandy soil; that is no doubt why this USDA Plant Profile Map does not show it as native to Grayson County. If, as you say, you are looking for a native turf grass, it's a good thing you are allergic to bermudagrass, because it is not only non-native to North America but is considered one of the most invasive weeds in the South.

Please read our article on Habiturf. Next, read this article on how to prepare, install, and maintain this native lawn .

From that article, here are some comments we want to emphasize:

"Soil.
A well-textured, well-drained soil is essential for long-term lawn success. Normally, after construction, developers spread a couple of inches of imported soil over soil compacted by heavy construction machinery. A sustainable lawn needs deep roots, so rip, rotovate or disk your soil to at least 8 inches - the deeper the better. Then incorporate a ½ inch layer of living compost with a low nitrogen and low phosphorus content into the top 3 inches of your prepared soil."

"Feeding.
If you return the grass cuttings directly to the soil, annual feeding should not be necessary. A healthy, living soil with live compost plus the natural 'rain' of airborne nutrients will be sufficient to keep your lawn at ecological equilibrium just like a natural prairie."

And, finally:

"Warning.
* If you do not prepare the soil adequately, your lawn will suffer and you will get weeds
* If you mow too often and too short, you will get weeds
* If you over-water, you will get weeds
* If you over-fertilize, you will get big weeds"

You will quickly discover that this is not a quickie fix in which a packet of seed is sprinkled over an area and - POOF - a beautiful green lawn pops up, but it is about as close as we can come to a solution for your problem.

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Arguments for planting native grasses in College Station TX
April 09, 2010 - I hear big ads about putting zoysia grass on my urban lawn but I would rather plant native grass, like Texas Bluegrass (for shady areas) and Blue Grama and Buffalograss grasses. What arguments can I g...
view the full question and answer

Salt-tolerant plants in Central Texas
September 16, 2009 - Do you have any suggestions for salt-tolerant plants in Central Texas? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Removal of non-native zoysia grass from Burgettstown PA
September 12, 2013 - What is the most effective method of killing zoysia grass? We bought a house that sits in the center of four acres of mature zoysia. It looks beautiful, however, despite our best efforts at "weeding...
view the full question and answer

Native grass to replace St. Augustine in Houston
July 18, 2009 - I read your answer to the question on the Houston Chronicle's website in relation to watering St. Augustine grass. You referred to St. Augustine as non-native, but from what I can gather St. Augusti...
view the full question and answer

Ornamental grasses under desert willows from Dallas, TX
September 06, 2013 - I am planning on planting 3 desert willows in full sun, below the power lines at the back of my back yard in the White Rock Lake area of Dallas. I would like to plant some ornamental grasses in the be...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center