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Saturday - May 23, 2009

From: Seabrook, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Meadow Gardens
Title: Site restoration in Seabrook, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have 2+ acres in the Seabrook/Kemah area of Texas and am planning the lawn/landscape. The property is zoned as light commercial and will have one 60X120 metal building. The rest of it is my outdoor kingdom! The property flooded during Hurricane Ike and recently had a lot demolition (old flooded houses removed) and dirt work done to elevate part of the property for building. There is a lot of bare dirt and fill dirt. Construction is delayed for 6 months to a year and my understanding is that there will be a lot of heavy equipment on the property to erect the building. Part of whatever I do now will probably need re-doing later. Ug... I have mostly sun, but some shade. Three beautiful oaks and a couple of hackberries survived Ike, but unfortunately, so did the chinese tallow! There is currently no way to water most of the property. I've done a lot of homework - including on this site - and I want to plant a native grass lawn - in part because I love the concept and in part because I am lazy and don't want high maintenance anything! I THINK that I want a buffalo grass/blue grama lawn in at least part of the property. I plan to mix wildflower seed for a wildflower meadow of maybe 1/4 - 1/2 acre. Other areas will have herb and veggie gardens and fruit trees. Yep! This will be a different kind of commercial property! Question 1: Will the buffalo grass/blue grama combination work in an area like this where tropical storm rainfalls alternate with droughty periods. I think the buffalo will work, but am not sure about blue grama. People think I am crazy when I ask about this! Question 2: Which of the wildflower blends from Native American Seed do you think would be best for here? Every time I read one of the descriptions I want that one and that one and that one! Question 3: Because of reading on this site, I want to plant some tall grasses somewhere on the property. Would you do a mass planting of one type? Plant 2-3 types together in clusters of the different types? Plant them by themselves or with something? I have a lot of space... Question 4: Can you recommend anyone from the Houston area who knows native plants AND is good at design work? I can grow just about anything, but my designs never look quite right. They don't look, well, natural. Thank you so much for doing what you do. This site has changed my whole perspective on lawns. When I found this site, I had 50 lbs of Bermuda seed in the trunk of my car. It was immediately returned!

ANSWER:

And thank you for what you are doing. You obviously "get it" about natural landscapes. Kudos for returning that bermudagrass seed; it has become one of the most invasive weeds in the South. One caution: don't get in too big a hurry to begin planting. As you have already pointed out, there are still miles to go on your site and nothing is more destructive to landscaping than construction. Take care to protect the existing trees from machinery, parking under the dripline and materials piled on the roots. Of course, if a bulldozer accidentally runs into that Chinese tallow that could be forgiven.

Question 1: Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) is shown on this USDA Plant Profile by county map as appearing either in or very close to Seabrook in Harris County. Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama), however, does not appear to be growing very close to that area in this USDA County Map. In their grass mixes, Native American Seed has a Native Turfgrass Mix, which is composed of 34% blue grama and 66% buffalograss.The USDA Plant Profiles are sometimes out of date, as they depend on information on locations of plants being submitted to them, so don't give up on that yet. We did some more research on blue grama, and we found nothing to counter-indicate the use of it, especially in the mix with buffalograss. If you need more information, we find the instructions on planting, amount of seed and general care in the Online Catalog of Native American Seed excellent, and they do mail order.

Question 2:  Native American Seed has a Caddo mix which it says is a great collection of hardy native wildflowers known to thrive along the piney woods and savannas from East Texas to the Atlantic Coast. You can either find pictures of the individual plants in the catalog, or go to our Image Gallery, type (for instance) Indian Blanket  into the "Search image gallery" box, click on GO, and you'll get a pageful of pictures of that plant. You can do the same thing in our Native Plant Database to get a page of information on  Gaillardia pulchella (firewheel), including some pictures and links to more information (at the bottom of the page). Obviously, you can choose any wildflower mix you wish, but you will get more dependable results if you stay with plants native to your area.

Question No. 3: Once again, we're going to send you hunting in our database, but this time go to Recommended Species. Click on East Texas on the map and using the Narrow Your Search function at the right-hand side of the page, select on "grasses and grass-like" under Habit, and any other characteristics, like amount of light, moisture, etc. that you wish. When you click on the Narrow Your Search box, you will get a list of grasses recommended for your general area. Most of the grasses will have a thumbnail picture, and a plant link, which takes you to the webpage on that individual plant.  For instance, we did this and chose a couple of personal favorites in grasses that will do well where you are: Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) and Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem). The page will tell you the expected mature size of the plant, water usage, propagation techniques, light requirements and usually have some more thumbnail pictures. 

Question No. 4: Go to our Suppliers section, and type in your town and state or just your zip code in the "Enter Search Location"- you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape and environment consultants in your general area. They have contact information, some have websites, and you should be able to locate someone you can work with.

WHEW!  If we weren't volunteers, we would put in for overtime on this one.


Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua gracilis

Gaillardia pulchella

Chasmanthium latifolium

Schizachyrium scoparium

 

 

 

 

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