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?

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
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.


Carex texensis

Coreopsis lanceolata

 

 

 

More Turf Questions

Brown ryegrass in Austin lawn
June 03, 2008 - We had rye grass planted in our yard last fall. It was beautiful all winter. Now it is brown but the St. Augustine has not yet taken over, so there are large portions of the lawn with an abundance o...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating stinging nettles in lawn in Austin
May 13, 2009 - How do I get rid of stinging nettle that is dispersed through my lawn. It's not like the nettle pictures I see online - they are short plants and have narrow leaves - but covered with spines. Mowin...
view the full question and answer

Mowing the multi-species buffalo grass lawn
June 23, 2011 - I am planning on putting in a buffalo grass lawn in an area that is little used. I read that a mix of buffalo, blue grama, and curly mesquite is good for better cover but I am concerned about the blu...
view the full question and answer

Need help with an invasive ground cover type plant filling in damaged areas in lawn.
November 25, 2009 - Since the drought this summer, there is an invasive ground cover type plant filling in the damaged areas in my lawn . It is dark greenish/purplish very small clover type plant, difficult to pull up an...
view the full question and answer

Buffalo grass and other native grass for lawn in Central Texas
March 17, 2008 - Hi, I live in Cedar Park, TX - recently moved to into a newly built house. I wanted to put some native grass (like buffalo) in the back yard. - My back yard has slope (away from house) and front...
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center