Explore Plants

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
    
 

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 - September 10, 2007

From: Woodland Hills, CA
Region: California
Topic: Turf
Title: Low maintenance, water and height lawn
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We would like to replace our lawn that covers a large area of our front and back yard and is watered daily and twice a day in summertime with drought resistant plants. Mr. Smarty Plants, could you recommend several low maintenance,low growing plants that need much less watering? Thank you.

ANSWER:

You've come to the right place. One of our jobs at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is to advance the use of native plants in the landscape, because they require less fertilizer, less water and less care, and are much more resistant to the quirks of Nature, because they are already adapted to those quirks. So, here are several plants that should fit your needs in Southern California:

First, grasses that are not lawn grasses, but will give texture and movement to your garden are Achnatherum hymenoides (Indian ricegrass, Aristida purpurea (purple threeawn), Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama), Carex texensis (Texas sedge), and Muhlenbergia porteri (bush muhly).

Next, how about some flowers? Consider Abronia villosa (desert sand verbena), Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed), Calochortus kennedyi (desert mariposa lily), Coreopsis lanceolata (lanceleaf tickseed), Erysimum capitatum (sanddune wallflower).

This can go on and on, but you can make up your own lists. Go to "Combination Search" in the Plant Database, put in your requirements and press the "Submit" button. For grasses, when we used the requirements of sun, dry soil and grass, we got a list of 24 suggestions. For blooming plants, we checked "herbs" and received 101 hits. You could select succulents, shrubs, whatever you want to consider for your lower maintenance garden.

Now, you probably want to know where to find these plants. Go to "Suppliers" on this website, again, list your state and you'll get a list of approved native plant vendors. When you click on the name of a nursery, you'll get a page with addresses, phone numbers, e-mail address or website address.

Finally, need more help? Go to "How To Articles" and read up on wildlife gardening or landscaping with native plants, or whatever you need.

 

 

 

More Turf Questions

How to control Yellow Woodsorrel in Habiturf?
March 19, 2013 - Last year we planted Habiturf in our front lawn and prepared the ground as directed with organic compost. This year we have an infestation of low growing yellow oxalis which we believe came in with t...
view the full question and answer

Native grass lawn for San Antonio
June 25, 2011 - Dear Mr Smartyplants, I live outside of San Antonio and my question is in regards to putting in a native grass lawn. What type of soil should I put down? I've sprayed herbicide and was planning on ...
view the full question and answer

Las Vegas lawn grass for Dallas
February 13, 2009 - Dear Smarty Plants, Every time we go to Las Vegas I admire the beautiful grass in the lawns of most of the strip casinos. It looks like a fescue but it is just as beautiful on the hottest summer day...
view the full question and answer

Replacing a Grass Lawn with Moss
January 02, 2010 - I have a small north facing yard that I would like to change from grass to moss. There is some moss now but still lots of grass. I need to rake a lot of leaves in the fall but want to get away from a ...
view the full question and answer

Live oak sprouts in lawn and flower beds
March 06, 2008 - I have several live oak trees that keep putting up sprouts in my lawn and flower beds. Is there any way to prevent this ?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.