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?


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

Friday - October 05, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Buffalograss (Bouteloua dactyloides) and buffalo grass mixes
Answered by: Steve Windhager and Nan Hampton


I live in Austin, TX and have visited the Wildflower Center in the past and enjoyed the display of native grass mixes. Can you tell me about the variations of buffalograss mixes... which ones are most successful? What is the ratio of grasses? The durability of the turf? Methods of application and season, if any? ie. Would hydromulching be an option? What is the benefit of using a buffalograss mix as compared to pure buffalograss seed? And also any suppliers of native grass mixes that you know of in the region? Thank you very much for your time!!!!!


Unfortunately our study on the buffalo grass mixes has only just begun, so we do not have any answers yet. It looks like the polycultural mix is working best, but most of the species are not commercially available. Of the ones that are available, they are Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss), Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama), and curly mesquite (Hilaria berlangeri) (although we could not find a Texas source for this last one). The grasses went out in equal numbers of seeds per square foot.

Hydromulching is a bad idea. The tactifier in hydromulch is actually hydrophobic (repels water) when it gets dry. As a result, most native seeds die when they are applied with hydromulch. Native American Seed has spread seed by hand and then sprayed on a "clean" hydromulch mix (no seed) for erosion control and they say that they have had good results. We are now recommending pneumatically applied compost for seed applications that would have formerly used hydromulch. It works GREAT, although you may have some leaching of nutrients (nitrate and phosphate) out of the compost with any run off, so you don't want to do this near a creek or river at this point.

The benefits of using a buffalograss mix compared to pure buffalograss are faster establishment, greater ability to adjust to weather changes and stressors in your yard, and less niche space for weeds—at least that is the theory at this point.

Currently, Native American Seed is the only seed company selling a mix of buffalo and blue grama. Hopefully we will get the others in commercial production in the future after the study is complete. Walmart is interested in selling the seed mixture.


More Turf Questions

Watering schedule for sod lawn
November 23, 2008 - We just moved to Georgetown, TX, where we have a 2-month old sod lawn (NOT Zoysia) that appears to becoming fairly well-established. We want to conserve water for environmental and financial reasons....
view the full question and answer

Cause of yellowing buffalo grass (Bouteloua dactyloides)
June 07, 2008 - We are getting large yellow areas in our buffalo grass lawn and think this is probably due to grub worms. Are grub worms the likely culprit and if so, what is the best way to get rid of them? We don...
view the full question and answer

Grass mixture for Spicewood TX
August 14, 2012 - I want to seed a bare sand limestone area about 2 acres in size. Assuming "normal" Texas hill country weather and the availability of moderate water for sprinkling is there one mixture that you reco...
view the full question and answer

Replacing non-native lawn grasses in an HOA in Kyle TX
March 27, 2009 - We just rounded out our first year with our first lawn here in Central Texas. I was stingy with the water and needless to say our non-native, Bermuda grass and St. Augustine lawn did not fare well. Id...
view the full question and answer

Replacement of lawn with native grasses in Maryland
August 31, 2007 - I live in west central Maryland within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. My soil is heavy clay and nutrient deficient. I have/am planting native flower beds and a vegetable garden in an effort to reduce...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center