Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
4 ratings

Wednesday - August 15, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Care of buffalo grass after wet season
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I'm asking for your advice on what to do with my buffalo grass lawn. With all this rain, I've managed to pull the weeds as they pop up in my front yard, and it looks good, except for a couple of places where there's too much shade and it's sparse. However... my back yard is an entirely different matter. It has 609 buffalo, which, at first, looked better than the front. It's prairie buffalo. The back has almost been taken over by lyre-leaf sage and dollar weed. I've almost given up on it. I've thought about overseeding it and it's probably a good time, given all the rain we're having. I know that fall and spring are the traditional times for planting seed, but I like to apply corn gluten at those times. I'm not concerned with the seed washing away in that area. What do you think of overseeding it with blue grama, or do you have something better in mind?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks some of the problems with the invaders into your buffalo grass will begin to abate now that the rains have stopped. The buffalo grass is going to do well with less rain, but dollarweed and lyreleaf sage are not going to be as happy. The dollarweed, or pennywort, (most likely Hydrocotyle umbellata (manyflower marshpennywort)) especially likes wet conditons. Salvia lyrata (lyreleaf sage) also likes it a bit wetter than our normal spring and summer weather. Mr. SP hates to tell you this, but the best way to get rid of these invaders is remove them by hand. After doing this, your best bet is to wait a month or two with normal rainfall before deciding to completely redo your lawn. With less rainfall, the dollar weed and lyreleaf sage, should be much easier to control. Let's face it, this has been a very unusual year for rainfall.

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) is still the best grass for sunny areas. It uses little water and requires only infrequent mowing. However, if you do decide to change your lawn, Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama), is a good choice for a short grass. Some other possibilites are Bouteloua rigidiseta (Texas grama) and Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama). Sedges, such as Carex texensis (Texas sedge) and Carex planostachys (cedar sedge), are another possibility. Although planting seeds in the spring is the most desirable time to plant, they can be planted in late summer. Just planting seeds over the existing lawn is probably not going to work very well, however, since the seeds need to make contact with the soil. You can learn more from the excellent article, "Planting Tips for Native Grasses" from Native American Seed and our from our How to Article, "Native Lawns".


Bouteloua dactyloides

Carex texensis

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Plants for slopes in South Texas
October 05, 2009 - Can you provide a list of plants for use on slopes in S. Texas?
view the full question and answer

Holding soil on a bank in Goldsboro, NC
July 25, 2010 - I live in Goldsboro, NC on a small ridge with a very steep bank on one side of our property. What native plants can we plant on the bank to help hold the soil. Also, what would be best to plant on t...
view the full question and answer

Brown spots in St. Augustine grass
July 05, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Plants, My husband and I are in the Air Force and were recently moved to Cibolo Texas. We built a home and hired a landscaper to finish the yard May 07 (with irrigation system). We laid d...
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

Native grasses for horses in Manor, TX
January 20, 2011 - Hi, Can you tell me which native grasses to plant that would grow (and be drought tolerant) in the Manor area. The area we would like to plant seeds has some sun and part shade. There appear to be so...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.