En Español

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

Tuesday - February 10, 2009

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Septic Systems
Title: Grass for septic drainfield in Georgetown TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We recently had a new septic drainfield installed. It is raised approximately 2-3 ft above ground level. I would like to plant it with a native grass/grasses that would attract wildlife yet still be attractive to look at since it is in our back yard. Would buffalo grass grow here or would it be too wet? I found a native mix for drainfields, but it grows to 5 feet and I really don't want anything that tall. It is currently planted with Cereal Rye, but soon will need something more permanent planted. Any suggestions? I really don't want to put St Augustine grass like our county recommends. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Thank you for not putting in St. Augustine, a non-native grass that is water and fertilizer greedy. On our Plant Database, Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) is listed as having a "medium" water use, but drought tolerant. We know that it turns brown and becomes dormant when it is too dry. It does need well drained soil, but if your drainfields are raised, that should take care of that problem. We think that not only will the buffalograss survive the extra moisture, but it will thrive on it.  It ordinarily only grows about 5" tall, and can be mowed once or twice a year for appearance, if you so desire. Your only problem will be that, while the buffalograss is becoming established, you will have to be vigilant about weeds. And please don't use herbicides; pulling out weeds, especially before they go to seed, is the best procedure. Once established, buffalograss can hold its own and should be an excellent choice for your yard. You will get more information on planting and caring for buffalograss from our How-To Article Native Lawns: Buffalograss.


Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua dactyloides

 

 

More Septic Systems Questions

Native plants to replace St. Augustine over septic area
November 02, 2009 - Hi. We're new to Orlando, FL and need some help with plants that would be suitable to grow over our septic field. It's on the west side of the house, full sun. We live in a subdivision that r...
view the full question and answer

Plants for aerobic septic system in Houston
February 03, 2011 - My husband and I would like to plants some trees and shrubs, but we have an aerobic system taking up most of the yard :( Can you recommend any trees that won't hurt that? Also shrubs for our weath...
view the full question and answer

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

Texas mountain laurel roots and septic systems
February 12, 2009 - I want to plant a Texas Mountain Laurel tree in our RV Resort. The park must approve new plantings, and they are concerned about any root system that might endanger their septic systems or pipes. They...
view the full question and answer

Raised beds over lateral lines in Solgohachia AR
January 02, 2010 - I would like to build raised flower beds over my lateral lines. They would be planted with strawberries and perennials. Will this cause any problems with the absorption into the ground or not lettin...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center