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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - March 30, 2009

From: Irving, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Water Gardens
Title: Native plants for a bioswale in Irving, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Mr. Smarty Plants, what plants would you recommend for a bioswale in the north Texas (Dallas) area?


Because some of our clientele might be unfamiliar with the term, we would like to quote part of a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer.

Common swales are typically vegetated with turf grass and are a conveyance tool, basically a grassy stormwater sewer that conveys water as quickly as possible from Point A to Point B. A bioswale differs in that the turf grass is replaced with native prairie vegetation. This will significantly reduce the flow velocity (slow down of the runoff) in the swale’s drainage course. The residence time of the runoff is thus increased, which gives it the time to be stored, filtered, and infiltrated. These processes remove pollutants and suspended solids from runoff.

Since our suggestions are basically for prairie grasses, you might be interested in reading our How-To Article Recreating a Prairie, which has instructions for time of year to be planting, preparing the soil, and caring for the grasses. When you are ready to begin, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, put your town and state in the Enter Search Location box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape consultants in your general area who can help you select the right plants for your purpose.

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex hystericina (bottlebrush sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Elymus virginicus (Virginia wildrye)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Andropogon gerardii

Carex blanda

Carex hystericina

Carex texensis

Chasmanthium latifolium

Elymus canadensis

Elymus virginicus

Sorghastrum nutans









More Water Gardens Questions

Need an attractive plant to help stabilize a wet area in East Stroudsburg PA.
April 20, 2011 - We have a small run off from one pond to another. At the bottom of the slope, the area is always wet--and not from the run off. Is there a low growing plant that would provide a root system to help st...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for water garden in Garland, TX
June 13, 2006 - Hello, I was interested in creating a water garden-koi pond in the landscaping and was interested to know what plants you would suggest for this usage that would be perennial? Furthermore I was intere...
view the full question and answer

Plants for freestanding water in Oklahoma
July 28, 2013 - I have an overflowing gutter and the ground below becomes a muddy hole. I'd like to put a basin or pot in/or above the ground with a rain chain. Are there any plants--shrubs or otherwise that flouris...
view the full question and answer

Aquatic Plants for a Small Pond in Missouri
June 11, 2015 - We have a small backyard pond (4' x 5' x 2' deep) with a shelf for marginal plants, and a pump that feeds a nice little creek and waterfall into the pond. We don't really want fish, but we'd lik...
view the full question and answer

Request to use images from Image Gallery
February 04, 2009 - The Nueces River Authority is publishing a riparian plant guide and we would like permission to use one or more of your plant photos. Can you direct me to a person or process for this. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

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