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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - December 13, 2009

From: Fredericksburg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native Indiangrass as a hedge
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I would like to create a grass hedge as a foundation planting for a portion of our garden. One side of the planting is a concrete sidewalk to our garden shed, the other side will eventually consist of a bed of native flowering plants. Indiangrass appears to have the look we're after, but I'm afraid it will look sparse in places and may tend to spread. We're also concerned that Indiangrass won't hold an erect posture and will lay down over the walkway. I would really appreciate your opinion. Thank you very much, you're a key resource for us.

ANSWER:

This Mr. Smarty Plants happens to love Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass) and it would make a lovely hedge for about four months of the year!  It is not evergreen and right now in December after the first hard freeze it is tall, brown and brittle.  It will stay that way until spring (March or April) when new green shoots will begin to emerge from the roots.  It will reach its maximum height and fullness around August and September and then become brown and brittle again after the first hard freeze.  It is beautiful and should remain tall and erect and you should be able to contain any spreading, but there is going to be a lot of the year when you aren't going to have a real green grass hedge in place—just brown, brittle stems.  If you can live with that, then it would be a wonderful grass to use. 

There are some alternatives, however. None of the true grasses are going to be evergreen, but you might consider the grass-like Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista).  It is not as tall as Indiangrass (only 2 to 2.5 feet) but it is evergreen, looks like a grass and has an attractive bloom.  It would remain in place as a low evergreen hedge all year long.  Another possibility would be  Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush).  It grows generally 2 to 5 feet high and 4 to 6 feet in width, but can be shaped by pruning.  The common version has gray-green leaves, but there are also varieties with very green leaves.  It also has dark pink or purple flowers. Still another evergreen shrub that would make a nice hedge is Morella cerifera (wax myrtle).

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Sorghastrum nutans

Nolina texana

Leucophyllum frutescens

Morella cerifera

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Need suggestions for native grasses to stabilize hillside Lago Vista, TX.
May 20, 2012 - I was hoping for some advice. We live on a hillside near Lake Travis. 10-12 years ago I removed all cedar trees. There is approximately 1-2 acrees of steep land between our residence and the lake. ...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses or sedges for a border in Texas
August 12, 2011 - I am in the process of gradually replacing some of my landscaping in Dallas Texas with native Texas plants. Your website has been very helpful. I now wish to replace a liriope border, which has cro...
view the full question and answer

Non-native invasive chickweed in Collegeville PA
December 31, 2011 - My problem is chickweed. I have found considerable information on how to eliminate the chickweed. My question is after following a suggested elimination process: How and when do I reseed with grass?...
view the full question and answer

Habiturf installation after Take-All fungus
January 24, 2012 - Are other soil remedies needed (besides those listed in your Habiturf brochure) to install Habiturf on land which had a St. Augustine lawn which was decimated by take all patch.
view the full question and answer

Grass planting time in East Texas
January 11, 2010 - When is a good time to plant grass in East Texas - Harrison County? Thanks so much.
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center