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

Monday - November 10, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Septic Systems
Title: Plants for septic fields in Austin
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We are building a house in Austin and the site requires a septic system. I need advice on how to landscape with native plants over the septic fields. The side yard and the front yard will contain the fields; they are in full sun. The side yard will be fenced for our two dogs so it will need more of a "turf-like" look, while the front yard will not be fenced but there are some deer to worry about. The site is very rocky with shallow soil so I hesitate to try buffalo grass. What recommendations do you have? Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

First of all, Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss), as you will see under "Growing Conditions" on its page in our Native Plants Database, will grow in a variety of soils—including heavy soils, clay, and limestone-based—so I don't think your soil type would preclude using buffalograss.  Native American Seed in Junction has a Native Sun Turfgrass that is a mixture of 66% buffalograss and 34% Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama).  Both are short turf grasses that require little water or mowing after they are established.  Our article, Native Lawns: Buffalograss, has useful information on establishing such a lawn.  Native American Seed also has Planting Tips for Native Grasses.  Another possibility for a turf yard are sedges.  Three that do well in the sun for your area are Carex texensis (Texas sedge), Carex perdentata (sand sedge) and Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge).  You can find out more about sedges for lawns in Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape by John Greenlee.

Sedges and/or grasses will work for the front yard as well, but you could also use shrubs and perennial herbaceous plants.  You can find a list of commerically available native plants suitable for landscaping in Central Texas by selecting that area from the map or the pull-down menu on our Recommended Species page.  On that same page you will also find a list of Deer Resistant native plants. Not all of the plants on this list are native to Central Texas and not all the plants on the Recommended Species for Central Texas list are resistant to deer, but by comparing the two you can come up with a nice long list of possibilities.  Here are a few suggestions:

Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii (Flame acanthus)

Calylophus berlandieri (Berlandier's sundrops)

Chrysactinia mexicana (damianita)

Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum (showy prairie gentian)

Gaillardia pulchella (firewheel)

Lantana urticoides (Texas lantana)

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush)

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii (wax mallow)


Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua gracilis

Carex texensis

Carex perdentata

Carex pensylvanica

Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii

Calylophus berlandieri

Chrysactinia mexicana

Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum

Gaillardia pulchella

Lantana urticoides

Leucophyllum frutescens

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii

 

 

More Septic Systems Questions

Wildflower garden for a drain field in Olivet MI
June 27, 2010 - I have a large area that is currently lawn over a drain field. I would like to turn this area into a wild flower garden. Will the wild flower roots, etc. cause any concerns or damages to a drain fie...
view the full question and answer

Septic Field Recommendations for SW Austin
February 09, 2015 - What would be good native plants to vegetate septic drip fields in both sun and shade in Southwest Austin. The regulations want plants that are evergreen and shallow rooted.
view the full question and answer

Appropriate plants for septic field from Raymore MO
September 15, 2011 - Is it practical to plant coneflower, garden phlox, etc. on a septic drain field?
view the full question and answer

Dog wallowing in damp area in garden from Great Bend KS
March 20, 2013 - I Have a wet area in my back yard that is close to my house. and off my patio there is a water hydrant,gas meter, electrical for my hot tub, my sprinkler valves and pump all there. My dog digs throug...
view the full question and answer

Length of root systems for wildflowers over septic system
March 29, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Pants: I want to know the length of root systems for native Kansas wildflowers that will be planted on a Wisconsin mound septic system, which is a special septic system partially above grou...
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