En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Plants for a steep slope in New York
June 27, 2010 - We just installed a swimming pool in our back yard, which is at the top of a south facing slope. After the pool was installed the slope is now 3 ft higher and very steep (unmowable). I'd guess steepe...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for steep slope in Washington DC
May 07, 2010 - We have a steep slope in our garden in Washington DC which has sun from noon to sun set. Could you please recommend some low maintenance plants which would be a good ground cover and limit erosion?
view the full question and answer

Quick and EZ way to cover bare spots in lawn with grass
March 09, 2015 - We recently had to dig up our lawn to have a pipe replaced. We now have a long strip of our yard that is either dug up or covered by some of the dirt that is dug up. We want to fill in the grass. W...
view the full question and answer

Reseed Buffalograss in Early Spring in San Antonio
January 14, 2011 - When is best time to put down Buffalo grass seed in 78260 area. How much dirt should I put over existing sodded buffalo grass, which is now sparse?
view the full question and answer

Drainage pond plantings from Mason MI
April 23, 2012 - We have a drainage pond in our back yard. It has a large muddy bank and some steep sides where erosion has started to take its toll. We are looking for some Michigan/Mid-Western native plants that w...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center