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
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

Source for Saltmarsh cordgrass from Houston
April 16, 2013 - I work for a consulting firm and we are looking to do more of our wetland creation/restoration. Do you know where one can purchased Spartina alterniflora?
view the full question and answer

Recommendations for plants under sugar maple (Acer saccharum) tree
March 12, 2011 - We have an area under sugar maple trees and near white pines. We cannot get any grass to grow. There is little moisture and no sun in the summer. We live 25 miles north of Nashville, TN. Can you r...
view the full question and answer

Hardy plants for a narrow yard in Illinois
July 28, 2008 - I have an area in my yard that is approx 35 feet by 5 feet that is shaded on the east by a 4 ft fence and on the west by the house and above by trees. It slopes off to the neighbors yard (so doesn't ...
view the full question and answer

Seed source for Carex texensis from Louisville KY
May 02, 2012 - Your reply to my question re a grass for my Kentucky home with cistern only water available was much appreciated, Carex texensis was recommended. I am unable to find this product for sale other than ...
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

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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center