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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.

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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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Friday - August 31, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Shorter drought-tolerant grasses
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

We live on 1 1/2 acres near Dripping Springs. We have a variety of grasses, mostly tall, on the back and side of the property. Is there some type of drought tolerant shorter grass or wildflowers or groundcover that we could plant to compete with these taller grasses? Mowing and weedeating this area is very difficult because there is a tall slope going down to the road. Thank you for your advice.

ANSWER:

You don't say what your taller grasses are, but here are a few that are relatively short and that Mr. Smarty Plants thinks are very attractive: Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama), Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) and Bouteloua rigidiseta (Texas grama). However, chances are your taller grasses are the natives, Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) and Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem) which are enjoying prolific growth this year due to the abundance of rain, or the non-native invasive, K.R. bluestem. In most years - with closer to normal rainfall - your grasses will not grow as tall as they have this year.
 

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