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?


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


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.


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:

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."

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:

* 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 Groundcovers Questions

Evergreen groundcovers for NE NC
April 20, 2015 - Can you please provide a list of evergreen native groundcovers for Northeastern NC?
view the full question and answer

Drought tolerant plants for IN
August 23, 2011 - What are some plants that would do well in an east facing area near my front door? I live in Indianapolis IN. I need something that is drought resistant and will fill in a 4x3 foot walled off area th...
view the full question and answer

Dog wallowing in damp area in garden from Great Bend KS
March 20, 2013 - I Have a wet area in my back yard that is close to my house. and off my patio there is a water hydrant,gas meter, electrical for my hot tub, my sprinkler valves and pump all there. My dog digs throug...
view the full question and answer

Straggler Daisy as a Groundcover in Salado, TX
October 30, 2015 - I've identified Straggler Daisy or Horseherb as the plant to cover my 20 x 40 partly shady partly sunny lot. Could you provide me with the best method for starting and growing the plant to ensure it ...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover or grass for Panama City, Florida
April 19, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants I live in Panama City Florida and am having great difficulty growing a lawn. I would prefer no lawn as grass, it seems a pointless use of resources but my husband requires gr...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center