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?


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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - October 28, 2009

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Replacing St. Augustine grass with native grasses in Georgetown TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a St Augustine yard around my house. I would like to introduce or replace this type of grass with some of the Buffalo, Blue Gamma and or Curly Mesquite. Can I plant some of the native seed in with my St. Augustine and eventually have a mixture or "conversion" process ensue, or will I have to replace the entire yard?


If only. The grasses you would like to use are all excellent choices. Native American Seed in Junction, TX has a Native Sun Turfgrass seed mix consisting of 66% Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) and  34% Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)Hilaria belangeri (curly-mesquite) is not usually sold as a turf grass, as it is coarser in texture than the other two. 

One of the problems with intermixing these native grasses with the non-native St. Augustine  is that St. Augustine is often used because it is shade tolerant, which the two native grasses are not. They require full sun, which we consider to be 6 or more hours of sun a day. So, if you have trees in your lawn, or portions of your house shade some of your lawn, the two native grasses are not going to compete.  If the St. Augustine is left in place, it will shade out the seedlings or plugs of the native grasses you put in, and defeat your purpose. Further, the St. Augustine, as you no doubt know, needs a LOT of water, and the buffalograss and blue grama do not. They will need some watering when they first emerge until they get established, but one of the virtues of the natives is that you will have to water less, as well as fertilize less or none. 

You may have already read it, but we would like to refer you to our How-To Article Native Lawns; Buffalograss for more information on preparing the area and planting. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua gracilis

Hilaria belangeri



More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Replacement for St. Augustine grass
July 29, 2009 - I live in Georgetown, TX. I have an acre lot with many large Live Oak Trees. Currently we have St Augustine grass growing, but with the drought, it's not working out well with rainbirds putting down ...
view the full question and answer

Color year round, welcome to Austin Texas.
December 04, 2011 - I am new to Austin and want to plant colorful flowers for fall and winter that get a "wow" reaction. I have not seen much at the local nurseries. Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated!
view the full question and answer

Searching for nursery with yellow nutsedge in NC
January 27, 2014 - I'd like to plant yellow nut sedge as a cover to stop erosion in a lot. Where can I buy yellow nut sedge plants near Kinston, North Carolina? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

When does Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) go to seed in southern US?
August 06, 2014 - When does Bouteloua dactyloides go to seed in the southern United States, mainly Texas?
view the full question and answer

Erosion at edge of driveway in Abilene TX
August 26, 2011 - My lawn suffered a great loss of grass over the winter and the soil at the edge of the driveway is washing away with watering and the occasional rains that we have. I am trying to get the grass to gr...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center