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
7 ratings

Monday - March 17, 2008

From: Cedar Park, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Groundcovers, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Buffalo grass and other native grass for lawn in Central Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

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 yard has slope towards the house. Water from the front yard (and neighbors yards) will run from the sides to the rear fence and then along the rear fence to the water retention area (100 yards away). My front yard and neighbors yards have Bermuda grass (Tifway 419). - The soil in the backyard is clay. Very little good soil that too near to the foundation. - We have green belt, which has some tall grass. Not sure what it is though. Here are my questions: 1. Is Buffalo Grass suitable for my area and the conditions I have? 2. Does buffalo grass need 6" of good soil to grow as told to me by a landscaping contractor (I was taking a quote)? 3. How do I prepare the soil? What all should I do put native grass? 4. Since the backyard has slope, one corner is almost always wet - either because of rain or because of neighbors lawn watering. 5. Will buffalo grass survive water coming from the Bermuda grass lawns? If it is high maintainence, then what are the other alternatives? Finally, where can I go and look at different types of lawns and compare (to convince my wife to go with native lawn :-)? I've visited Lady Bird center, but I remember seeing only the native plants. Thanks.

ANSWER:

First of all, let me recommend that you read Native Lawns from our "How to Articles". It gives the rationale for creating native lawns and helpful information for getting started and maintaining a buffalo grass lawn.

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) does well in the sun with little water, once established, reaches a height of 5-8 inches and requires little mowing and no fertilizer. It will even tolerate some partial shade. Native American Seed has a Native Sun Turfgrass seed mix that contains 66% buffalo grass and 34% Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) and they have instructions for preparing your lawn and Planting Tips for Native Grasses.

You can come to visit the Wildflower Center's Turffalo (a variety of buffalo grass developed at Texas Tech University) plot. The Turffalo grass plot is in the formal Homeowner Inspiration Gardens, to the left and above as you enter the Theme Gardens. Please see the answer to a question about this plot of turffalo that came in recently. Turffalo is sold by plugs or by pads. On the Turffalo webpage they have a thorough discussion about preparation of the lawn and maintenance. There are also plots of other buffalo grass varieties in the middle Home Inspiration Garden and the lawn area around the Children's Little House.

Buffalo grass will grow on poor soils that are heavy and compact like your clay. It will have a lusher growth, however, if it has better soil; so, If it is possible, add some organic material to your soil (compost or loam) and work it into the clay before planting your plugs or sowing your seeds.

Buffalo grass is not going to like your areas that remain wet. For those areas your best bet is to plant some others grasses or ground cover that do like wet areas. For instance, Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem) and Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) are two attractive taller grasses that tolerate moist soils and would look nice at the edge of your lawn. Sedges, such as Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge), Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge), Carex perdentata (sand sedge) and Carex texensis (Texas sedge), are shorter and do well in moist soils. Another plant that can tolerate moist soils but will also do well in dry soil and grows only to about 6 inches high is Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle frogfruit).


Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua gracilis

Andropogon glomeratus

Chasmanthium latifolium

Carex blanda

Carex cherokeensis

Carex perdentata

Carex texensis

Phyla nodiflora

 

 

More Turf Questions

Source for nitrates and phosphorus (P205) for lawn care
July 04, 2008 - I recently supplied soil samples from my back yard to my local extension here in Austin. I have a hybrid Bermuda turf grass (TIF 419) that has had its share of ups and downs, and wanted to assess the ...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen ground cover for San Antonio
August 03, 2011 - Is there a short, evergreen, drought tolerant ground cover which will tolerate light traffic that can be used instead of grass? San Antonio, Texas
view the full question and answer

Removal of chickweed from lawns
April 06, 2007 - How do I get Cerastium arvense L. - field chickweed out of my lawn? How can I kill them without hurting my grass? I don't have a clue as to how they got into my lawn, but my lawn is the only one on...
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

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

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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center