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

Preventing armadillos from digging up lawn for grubs
September 29, 2006 - Over the past 4 months we have endured an armadillo digging up our lawn. We are now seeking a humane method to discourage the armadillo from digging up the grubs in our lawn. Do you have any suggest...
view the full question and answer

Process of converting from lawn to wildflower meadow in New Jersey
March 17, 2006 - I live in northern New Jersey and have an acre of property which is currently a grassy lawn. I would like to make a meadow where the lawn is. What is the process to convert from a lawn to a meadow? Th...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for central Georgia
August 06, 2011 - We've just bought a 1990 circa house in Dallas, Georgia. It sits on a .62 acre lot. One half of the lot is woods, the rest is lawn. The lawn is covered mostly with weeds and wild strawberries. ...
view the full question and answer

Growth of non-native bermudagrass in Snelville GA
July 16, 2011 - How do you grow Bermuda grass successfully in the state of Georgia? Techniques in fertilization, lawn cutting and general maintenance. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Roots of live oak in lawn from Round Rock TX
June 24, 2011 - I live on a cul-de-sac and have a small triangle shape yard. There is a large live oak in the middle of the yard. I am concerned because large bark covered roots have emerged on two sides of the tre...
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.