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

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

Wildflower field for sewage leach field from Olga Washington
August 01, 2012 - I am interested in planting a large native wildflower field at a resort in the San Juan Islands in Washington State. It would be over a sewage leach field for many cabins and bathrooms. Are there any ...
view the full question and answer

Native flowers for Door County, Wisconsin
September 02, 2009 - We recently were required to put in a new septic system on our vacation property in Door County, WI. This left us with a clearing on our wooded lot where the septic field is now located. The installer...
view the full question and answer

Non-native smoketree for California City, CA
June 28, 2010 - I was wondering if you could tell me if it would be a good or bad idea to plant a Smoke Tree (most likely European) in the vicinity of a septic tank. We are looking for something which will provide a...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for septic field
April 10, 2008 - We have a new Septic tank and field and I want to plant native seeds on the field instead of grass. Are there particular packages of seed that I can purchase or what else would you recommend?
view the full question and answer

Bald cypress knees in leachfield from Ventura CA
March 20, 2013 - Hey, I planted a seedling 20+ years ago which has turned out to be a 40'bald cypress that's now 40'. I'm a native southerner and would hate to cut it down but it's putting up knees in my septic s...
view the full question and answer

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