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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - August 21, 2008

From: Fairfield, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grasses for field in Fairfield, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We are clearing youpon, briars and small trees from 13 acres of woods near Fairfield, Texas. We want to plant native grass(s) that can tolerate shade and part shade, but also tolerate mowing(shredder) once or maybe twice a year to control the youpon. The majority of the trees are post oak, cedar and pine and have deposited a significant layer of dead leaves on the ground. What grasses do you recommend?

ANSWER:

We're not sure that grasses are going to be your solution right now. Although not familiar with the shredder, we have seen commercials for them, and think this might be too much mowing for a grass. The native grasses can be mowed, certainly, once or twice a year, with the mower set up high, but that may not be the same thing. The second problem is your description of the layer of leaves on the ground. This is going to make seeding the grasses impractical, and that's a lot of territory for sodding or putting in plugs. Of course, you probably already have some native grasses growing there; hopefully, without any non-native invasives that have escaped from cultivation.

We have three How-To articles that we would like for you to look at, to help give you some ideas of what will or will not be feasible on your property. The first is Native Lawns, then Meadow Gardening, and finally, Recreating a Prairie.  We are going to give you a list of native grasses that are suitable for Central Texas, but you are probably a year or so away from actually planting them. The webpage for each grass will indicate what kind of sun exposure it will tolerate, soils, moisture, etc. When you are ready to start planting, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, enter your town and state in the Search Location box and you will get a list of native plant suppliers, seed companies and landscape consultants in your general area. They will be able to advise you on the appropriate grasses, when to plant, etc.

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Koeleria macrantha (prairie Junegrass)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

 

 

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