Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - January 02, 2008

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native plants for landscaping backyard in Central Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We are starting from scratch in our backyard (approx. 200'x60')in Central Texas (Cedar Park). The yard faces West. What do you recommend for plants, trees, shrubs and grass that are native and will require less water and care. We do want to provide food for beneficial insects, birds and butterflies. We also need to accomplish some type of screening on the north side of the property. Deer and rodent resistent plants would be a plus.

ANSWER:

Let me first refer you to our list of Recommended Native Plants for Central Texas that you can browse through. The Kerrville chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) also has a list, Native Plants for Landscaping in the Texas Hill Country, with their suggestions. If you have a goodly amount of sunshine and are looking for a turf grass, Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) is an excellent choice. It requires very little water and it doesn't need to be mowed very often. You can read about creating a native grass lawn in one of our How to Articles, "Native Lawns".

There are many choices in the two lists above for trees and shrubs, but here are a few that Mr. Smarty Plants recommends.

LARGE TREES

Ulmus americana (American elm)

Ulmus crassifolia (cedar elm)

Quercus muehlenbergii (chinkapin oak)

Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak)

SMALL/MEDIUM TREES

Acer grandidentatum (bigtooth maple)

Prunus mexicana (Mexican plum)

Frangula caroliniana (Carolina buckthorn)

Rhus lanceolata (prairie sumac)

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud)

Cornus drummondii (roughleaf dogwood)

SHRUBS

For screening purposes you probably want evergreens. The following are evergreen:

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain-laurel)

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac)

Mahonia trifoliolata (agarita)

Leucophyllum frutescens (cenizo)

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)

Finally, both Juniperus ashei (Ashe's juniper) and Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) are evergreen and can be pruned into a hedge although both grow to be medium-sized trees.


Bouteloua dactyloides

Ulmus americana

Ulmus crassifolia

Quercus muehlenbergii

Quercus macrocarpa

Acer grandidentatum

Prunus mexicana

Frangula caroliniana

Rhus lanceolata

Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Cornus drummondii

Ilex vomitoria

Sophora secundiflora

Rhus virens

Mahonia trifoliolata

Leucophyllum frutescens

Morella cerifera

Juniperus ashei

Juniperus virginiana

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native plants to provide nitrogen for compost in Houston
March 27, 2010 - I leave my clippings on the lawn so I don't have enough 'green' for my compost. I'd like to plant an unobtrusive area with some native that I can mow on a monthly basis. The area is in partial...
view the full question and answer

Non-invasive, drought tolerant turf grass for Brownsville TX
May 22, 2010 - Since Bermudagrass is considered "invasive" by many in the industry, what drought tolerant, non-invasive turf grass would you recommend for South Texas lawns? (Brownsville area)
view the full question and answer

Groundcovers over roots in Roeland Park KS
June 18, 2013 - Large Hackberry tree (aprox 50+years) roots are popping up above ground making mowing under/around it impossible. Is there a plant, ground cover, something I can plant, or cover the roots with that w...
view the full question and answer

Non-native St. Augustine grass failing for 5 years in Houston
July 21, 2013 - My townhome in Houston has a mid-size backyard, which receives full sun for much of the day. I've re-sodded with St. Augustine for 5 consecutive summers, but it consistently dies over time (proper fe...
view the full question and answer

Juncus effusus Twister question
June 07, 2009 - I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I bought a Juncus Effusus,"Twister", and was wondering if it can be brought in the house during winter as a house plant or is it just an annual that will die in ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.