Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

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

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

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

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

Plants for delineating property line
July 18, 2010 - I have a neighbor who does not mow his grass or take care of a strip that runs between my property and his. I would like to plant some inexpensive, low maintenance, shrubs, that would do well in full...
view the full question and answer

Benefits of Habiturf from Austin
August 19, 2013 - I have been reading about Habiturf and my question should be easy to answer. Is this is a grass you would recommend for kid play? Sitting on the lawn, kicking a soccer ball, etc. Any information a...
view the full question and answer

Plants for seeping hillside and muddy bottom area
October 28, 2009 - We live on the north side of Lake Travis. About half acre of our property is currently planted with natives. The other half consists of a huge limestone ledge, a steep slope with little soil that seep...
view the full question and answer

Practicality of Cedar Elm and buffalo grass in clay soil in East Texas
July 31, 2007 - Dear Mr. Smarty Pants, I live in Katy Texas on what used to be a rice field. The soil either has a lot of clay in it or in places is just solid clay. Will any kind of buffalo grass grow here? I'v...
view the full question and answer

Burning back Gulf Muhly instead of trimming from San Antonio
December 19, 2011 - A few years ago I noticed that the Center burned back its Gulf Muhly rather than cutting it back. Did that study result in any conclusions or recommendations?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.