En EspaÑol

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

Thursday - April 01, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southeast
Topic: Turf
Title: Difficult lawn redo in Austin, TX area.
Answered by: Joe Marcus


In Oak Hill section of Austin and our 2 year old house had St Augustine dumped atop the raped soil. After the drought of 09 it is all dead. We have most of our large yard native but need grass around the drive and house. Estimate needs of 20 pallets. We had wanted to plant seed but between the major cost of dirt (we are on a hilly limestone slope) full of happy deer we worry we will waste way too much soil. Therefore I guess we have to go sod - Buffalo grass in the sunny areas and Zoysia in the shaded areas? How will they co-exist? Or can we do some sod and some seed? What will the deer, dirt, rains, etc do and how can we protect it? Every landscape person has a different idea. This is a $5000 project before labor so help appreciated :) Thanks.


Adding good soil will help no matter how you decide to re-grass your landscape.  Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) is a good choice for sunny areas.  There is a How-to Article on our website discussing the establishment and maintenance of Buffalograss lawns.  However, we recommend a mix of native grasses to create a thicker turf and more natural meadow-like lawn.  Another How-to Article, Meadow Gardening discusses using a mixture of grasses and native forbs in a very naturalistic and ecologically sensible planting to replace exotic grass monocultures.

Your shady areas are not well-suited to native grass lawns, but native sedges such as Carex planostachys (cedar sedge) are nice-looking, native grass-like plants that can be found naturally growing in virtually any shaded spot in Central Texas.  Unforturnately, finding commercial sources is a problem.  Consider using shade-loving groundcovers as an alternative to turf.  Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy) and Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) are nice alternative.

Your landscape problem is a complex one.  In the end, you will probably find that employing the services of a reputable landscape professional, with whom you develop a relationship and in whom you trust, will be money well-spent.


More Turf Questions

Bermuda, not the only option in Memphis
November 04, 2014 - I'm building an energy efficient home in Memphis and want to extend that strategy to the landscaping. I'd like to plant native grasses, but this lot is surrounded by lots sodded with Bermuda grass....
view the full question and answer

Removal of chickweed from lawns
April 06, 2007 - How do I get Cerastium arvense L. - field chickweed out of my lawn? How can I kill them without hurting my grass? I don't have a clue as to how they got into my lawn, but my lawn is the only one on...
view the full question and answer

Can Habiturf™ be hydromulched?
July 28, 2014 - Our lawn was originally planted with "Weeping Love Grass" seed by hydromulching. After 7 years we still have some bare spots. Other types of grass have infiltrated the lawn and that does not matter...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for shady yard in Austin
September 04, 2011 - I was looking at your research on native grasses to be used in a yard. I want to plant your native mix of seeds, but worry that there is too much shade in my yard. I live in central Austin and wante...
view the full question and answer

Rain garden for South Austin
March 01, 2010 - I have a TINY yard in south Austin. It is 8'x25', sandwiched between four houses and happens to be at the lowest elevation, so all of the neighbor's yards drain to ours. Originally, we had bermud...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center