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

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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.

 

 

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