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
Not Yet Rated

Friday - October 31, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Grass for miniature horses
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We are looking for buffalo grass or a grass that can be eaten by miniature horses. We have a small non-profit in south Austin and bring the minis home on weekends x2 a month. Our yard has been dirt when they got caught there too long in Dec/Jan 2006 (rains and ice storms). We want to sod part of the yard and keep the other part as a run area for when the minis come home.but allow them to munch the grass we lay after it has taken solid root under controlled situation. Advice? We figured we would need 3 pallets of sod to do this.

ANSWER:

First of all, please see our article, Native Lawns: Buffalograss , for information on establishing and maintaining a buffalograss native lawn. 

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) is an excellent choice for your lawn/horse pasture since it is "one of the most nutririous of the prairie grasses" for horses and cattle according to Texas A&M AgriLIFE Forages of Texas-North Central.  Here are several other grasses that make good forage for horses; but, except for the blue grama, they grow 2 to 3 feet high and couldn't really be considered turf grasses.  Nevertheless, they are attractive grasses and are nutritious.

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Several sources (e.g., Safergrass.org) emphasize the nutritional benefits of using native grasses over introduced grasses. You do need to realize, however, that native grass pastures are more difficult to establish than pastures of the introduced forage grasses. Native grasses face competition from introduced nonnative grasses and need to be managed carefully to prevent overgrazing. Native Prairies Association of Texas, Kansas State University and the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation have information on planting and establishing native grasses.  Since your miniature horses will be there only part of the time, you shouldn't have any problems with overgrazing, however.

You speak of putting in sod, but if you wanted to try seeding the area, Native American Seed in Junction is an excellent source for native grass seeds. In particular, they have a seed mix of buffalograss and blue grama that they call their Native Sun Turfgrass.  They also have information on planting native grasses. Ideal planting time is late spring to early summer, however, and you may want to get started before then by installing sod or plugs.

A cautionary note—although most native grasses are desirable to feed your horses, there are some grasses and other plants, both native and non-native, that you should avoid for your area. The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation has compiled a list of Poisonous Plant Considerations.


Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua gracilis

Bouteloua hirsuta

Bouteloua curtipendula

Schizachyrium scoparium

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Tufted hairgrass seed for Houston TX
August 06, 2009 - From Houston-Texas I am looking for a seed grass called tufted hairgrass ( deschampsia caespitosa ), if you can tell me where to find this kind of seed. Thank you for helping.
view the full question and answer

Plants for farm animals from East Greenwich RI
May 03, 2014 - What type of perennial flowers and shrubs are safe to plant around farm animals (dogs, horses, chickens, turkeys) in New England climate?
view the full question and answer

Controlling weeds in Habiturf lawn
May 16, 2015 - What's the best way to get rid of weeds in a Habiturf lawn? Habiturf seems like a great idea, but even with no extra water and no fertilizer, it seems the weeds take over - K.R. Bluestem and various...
view the full question and answer

Care of buffalo grass after wet season
August 15, 2007 - I'm asking for your advice on what to do with my buffalo grass lawn. With all this rain, I've managed to pull the weeds as they pop up in my front yard, and it looks good, except for a couple of...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for roadside in Gallatin TN
February 19, 2012 - What native plant would you suggest that we try to establish on 100 feet of road frontage which gets full afternoon sun? The soil is mostly clay, and it's on a rather sleep hill about 10 feet high. ...
view the full question and answer

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