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

Tuesday - November 03, 2009

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Holding bare soil before sowing native grasses in spring.
Answered by: Joe Marcus


I want to try your buffalo/bluegrama/curly mesquite. Right now my yard is ploughed. What should I do until spring? I assume I should add living compost to the top 3", plant bluegrass for now, and then sow, rake, and press in your buffalo/bluegrama/curly mesquite combo next March 21st, right? John


We rarely recommend non-natives, but in order to hold your soil and  somewhat inhibit the growth of winter weeds you might sow winter rye now.  It will die out in next summer's heat.

The mix of species we recommend for Central Texas lawns is not yet widely available.  It is difficult to harvest seed from Hilaria belangeri (curly-mesquite) and thus is quite expensive and available in limited quantities.  Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) and Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) are more readily available.   As you suggest in your question, seeds of these species should be sown in sping.

Adding compost before sowing your grass seed is an excellent idea.


More Compost and Mulch Questions

Instructions for composting in southeast Texas
February 18, 2008 - Do you ever offer composting classes? I live in Houston and would like to start composting in my backyard... are there any particular books you would recommend for composting in SE TX? Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Plants for floodplain in Fairfield, New Jersey
March 21, 2010 - I have an easy question for you... I hope... We just moved into the floodplains of NJ in Fairfield and are interested in some plants. We would like to know what plants are best suited to grow in flood...
view the full question and answer

Using non-native Red-Tip Photinia as a mulch from Pittsburg TX
March 23, 2011 - Wondering if its ok to use Red Tip Phontinia as a mulch? thanks
view the full question and answer

Want to Amend Soil Without Harming Earthworms in Dallas Area
March 16, 2011 - I have a totally odd question. I live in the Dallas area in the blackland soil. I am removing sod from part of my back yard and will replant with nectar and host plants for butterflies. The soil is...
view the full question and answer

Use of free cedar mulch in Round Rock, TX
March 17, 2013 - Round Rock provides city residents free mulch to pick up. It is all cedar apparently. I am turning my now dead, mostly clay, very alkaline and rocky thin soil front lawn into a bigger flower bed of mo...
view the full question and answer

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