En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Saturday - May 30, 2009

From: Kerrville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Pathway material for Kerrville, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have removed the St Augustine, expanded a perennial bed of mostly natives and created a pathway along the new bed. Can you recommend a plant to use as a pathway? It should require low water, be heat tolerant, be average height of 3 to 6 inches, and should withstand heavy traffic. Most of the pathway will get full sun and a small portion will be part shade in morning. Is there such a plant? Thanks! Carol B

ANSWER:

We love it when our correspondents design the perfect plant and ask us to find it for them. There is always hope it's out there but usually it isn't. The biggest barrier in your specifications is heavy foot traffic. We really have no idea what kind of foot traffic any of these will take. You will need to follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant, and perhaps follow the Google link at the bottom of that page, and judge for yourself if your definition of "traffic" coincides with what that plant can withstand. We searched in the herbaceous plants native to Texas, and needing sun (6 hours or more a day) to part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun a day). We got 479 possibilities, and found nine low-growing plants, one sedge and Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss), that are more or less within your height and sun requirements. Many of these are considered weeds, so even finding them in a nursery could be a problem. All plants in our Native Plant Database are supposed to be commercially available, but we don't necessarily know where that would be for individual plants. Read our How-To Article Native Lawns: Buffalograss to get a feel for whether it would work for you. It does not tolerate shade, but it looks like you will have enough sun to support it.  Of the groundcover plants, our feeling is that the Dichondra argentea (silver ponysfoot) has the best chance of surviving the foot traffic.

Now, if or when you have eliminated all the possibilities we have listed, may we suggest a nice shredded hardwood mulch path? It will be cheaper and quicker to spread than the plants, needs no watering, doesn't care about the sun and tolerates traffic nicely. It will have to be replenished from time to time, but as it drifts into your flower beds, it will decompose and continue to add organic matter to your soil, which is always good, especially in Texas soils. 

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy) -semi-evergreen, 6 to 12 inches tall, blooms yellow March to November, low water usage, sun, part shade or shade

Dichondra argentea (silver ponysfoot) - 3 to 4 inches tall, evergreen, blooms white May to August, medium water use, sun or part shade

Hydrocotyle umbellata (manyflower marshpennywort) - 3 to 10 inches tall, blooms white April to October, medium water use, sun, part shade or shade

Lenophyllum texanum (coastal stonecrop) - 4 to 8 inches tall, blooms rosy yellow June to August, low water use, sun or part shade

Oxalis stricta (common yellow oxalis) - 2 to 8 inches tall, blooms orange March to October, low water use, sun

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit) - semi-evergreen, 3 to 6 inches tall, blooms white May to October, low water use, sun or part shade

Sedum nuttallianum (yellow stonecrop) - annual, 2 to 4 inches tall, blooms yellow April to July, low water use, sun

Stemodia lanata (gray-woolly twintip) - evergreen 4 to 10 inches tall, blooms white, purple, violet April to November, low water use, sun

Viola sororia (common blue violet) 6 to 10 inches tall, blooms white, pink, blue, purple March to May, high water use, sun or part shade

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) - 10 to 12 inches tall, medium water use, sun or part shade

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) - 3 to 12 inches tall, semi-evergreen, low water use, sun


Calyptocarpus vialis

Dichondra argentea

Hydrocotyle umbellata

Lenophyllum texanum

Oxalis stricta

Phyla nodiflora

Sedum nuttallianum

Stemodia lanata

Viola sororia

Carex texensis

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua dactyloides

 

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Groundcovers for Miami FL
March 27, 2013 - What is a ground cover that does not need mowing or a lot of water and survives in South Florida heat and is also native to the area? I would like to turn my lawn into a more natural self-sustaining a...
view the full question and answer

Retention of soil on bank in Pittsburgh, PA
June 15, 2008 - I have a steep bank in front of our house in Pittsburgh. We no longer want to mow this bank and wish to plant something that will spread and hold the soil. What do you recommend?
view the full question and answer

Should wait to trim Inland Sea Oats until all seeds have been dropped from Austin
March 18, 2011 - Regarding Inland Sea Oats: I trimmed the stalks that have lost all the seeds. Should I trim the rest of the stalks or wait until all seeds have dropped?
view the full question and answer

Buffalograss for Houston
July 08, 2008 - Will 609 buffalograss sod perform well in Houston, Texas? I am being told that it will yellow and get filled with weeds and that it won't handle the humidity. Is this all true? Help, please.
view the full question and answer

Drought-tolerant turf for Southern California
April 23, 2015 - Is it possible to grow Habiturf in Riverside, California, in the area of UC Riverside? The climate is similar to the desert areas or Arizona, just slightly cooler in the Summer. If not, is there a d...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center