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?


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
4 ratings

Thursday - March 26, 2009

From: Tucker, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grasses for Georgia
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I am new to Georgia by way of Colorado and would like to plant a drought resistant, tough grass/sod alternative in my backyard. Would buffalo / grama grass do ok in this climate? My backyard doesn’t get full sun and is somewhat sloped.


There is good news and bad news. First, the good news: Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) is shown in our Native Plant Database as being native to Georgia. The bad news? It really requires sun to survive and flourish. We consider "full sun" to be six hours or more of sun a day. There are, however, a number of grasses native to Georgia that are acclimated to shady conditions, and we will give you a list. We are going to go to our Native Plant Database, do a Combined Search on Georgia, grass and grass-like plants (under Habit) and part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun a day) and shade (less than 2 hours of shade a day), Light Requirements, and see what we can find. You can duplicate our method and make your own choices. While you are researching your options, can we suggest you read a couple of our How-To Articles on native lawns and grasses? The first is Native Lawns, the second is Meadow Gardening which might get you interested in an alternative to sod that is attractive and environmentally friendly, including helping with erosion on your slope. Follow our plant links to the individual webpage on each grass where you will find expected heights and propagation instructions; for more information, go to the bottom of that page and click on the Google link for that plant. If you have difficulty locating the grasses you select, go to our Native Plant Suppliers directory, enter your town and state and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape and environment consultants in your general area. 

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama)

Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Muhlenbergia schreberi (nimblewill)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Tridens flavus (purpletop tridens)

Bouteloua curtipendula

Bouteloua hirsuta

Carex cherokeensis

Carex texensis

Chasmanthium latifolium

Muhlenbergia schreberi

Schizachyrium scoparium

Tridens flavus



More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Habiturf for East Texas
May 14, 2012 - We live in east Texas, right on the beginning of the piney words, the soil is a little sandy. We have taken up a wooden walkway but can't get anything to grow there. Could the soil be dead from year ...
view the full question and answer

Plantings for sides of retention pond in Willits CA
July 02, 2012 - I am looking for recommendations for ground cover for the outside of embankments which impound wastewater. This is to improve the aesthetics and deter weeds. The slopes are 1V:2H, so if we can avoid...
view the full question and answer

Comments on previous answer on non-native invasives from Raleigh NC
March 27, 2014 - https://www.wildflower.org/expert/show.php?id=7827 This answer is incorrect. Please have someone review it to remove the two invasive species you are encouraging people to plant by calling them nati...
view the full question and answer

Reducing Allergens in Yards and Gardens
January 31, 2012 - What are some allergen-free native plants to Central Texas that thrive in the soil and can survive in the weather?
view the full question and answer

Perennial ground cover for hillside in Holmdel NJ
April 25, 2014 - I live in NJ. I would like to use a perennial ground cover for my landscaping bed on a hill with full sun and deer resistant. It's a good size landscaping bed that is facing east (southeast). What...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center