Explore Plants

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
    
 

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:

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Suggested plants for between flagstones in Austin, TX
March 24, 2007 - I would like to plant something between my flagstones on patio. I am taking up the cement mortar and want something that doesn't require a lot of water, low growing, and can stand a little traffic. ...
view the full question and answer

Plants to stabilize a steep slope in east Texas
November 09, 2009 - We have a very steep dirt dam in Winnsboro TX, full sun, and burmuda and rye grasses have not been enough to keep from having some mud sliding. We keep adding clay and reworking but want to preserve t...
view the full question and answer

Deer Resistance and Erosion Control for St. Louis County MO
January 03, 2014 - I am looking for deer and rabbit resistant native plants for erosion control on a steep ravine slope with part sun and part shade in St. Louis County MO.
view the full question and answer

Grasses in Allen County, Indiana
September 25, 2010 - Do you have images of Northeast Allen County, Indiana grass specimens with i.d.? I am a student teacher and am putting together a nature hunt list for my students. Thank-you,
view the full question and answer

Is Sedum recommended for a greenroof project in Houston
July 23, 2008 - Would you recommend using Sedum for a green roof project in Houston, Texas? Will the humidity effect the sedum? If sedum would be a poor choice, what would you recommend for Houston?
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.