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
5 ratings

Wednesday - June 16, 2010

From: Carthage, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grasses for East Texas that require no mowing or watering
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What native grass can I grow in deep East Texas that would require no supplemental watering and no mowing?

ANSWER:

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) is the perfect grass to meet your criteria—once established it takes no supplemental watering and only rare, occasional mowing. Unfortunately, it is not a grass that one thinks of as growing in deep East Texas.  However, the USDA Plants Database distribution map shows it occurring in Marion County just north of Panola County and also in Caddo Parrish in Louisiana just across the state line from Panola County.  One thing I do know about East Texas is that the soil can be very sandy there.  If the soil is sandy where you live, buffalograss will NOT do well.  Also, if the site you want to grow it on is very shady, it will not do well. You can read our article, Native Lawns: Buffalograss, to learn more about it.  You can also read about the research that the Wildflower Center has done on Native Lawns. Unfortunately, neither of the other two short native grasses, Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) and Hilaria belangeri (curly-mesquite), are native to East Texas.

There are no other native turf grasses that meet your criteria but there are several grass-like sedges that have been used as substitutes for grass lawns.  They are evergreen, require little or no mowing, some will grow in both sun and shade, and some will survive without supplemental watering.   The ones listed in the article linked above that are native to Texas are Carex perdentata (sand sedge) and Carex texensis (Texas sedge).

If you are just looking for plants to cover your lawn area, we can recommend several that require little water, do not grow tall and/or can be occasionally mowed to maintain your desired height. 

Here are several ground covers recommended by the Wasowskis in Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region that do well in the clay soils of the Dallas region:

Artemisia ludoviciana (white sagebrush) is evergreen (maybe evergray is a better descriptor) grows 1 to 3 feet but can be mowed.

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy) grows less than 1 foot high.  It goes dormant in cold winters.

Geum canadense (white avens) grows from 4 inches to over 3 feet, but can be mowed.  It is evergreen if watered in summer.

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit) grows 3 to 4 inches high and is evergreen to dormant in winter.

Rivina humilis (rougeplant) grows 1 to 1.5 feet and is evergreen to dormant in winter.

Salvia lyrata (lyreleaf sage) grows 4 to 18 inches or more, but can be mowed and is evergreen if watered in summer.

Packera obovata (roundleaf ragwort) grows 3 inches to 2 feet but can be mowed and is evergreen.

Here are photos of the above plants from our Image Gallery:


Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua dactyloides

Carex perdentata

Carex texensis

 

 


Artemisia ludoviciana

Calyptocarpus vialis

Calyptocarpus vialis

Geum canadense

Phyla nodiflora

Rivina humilis

Salvia lyrata

Packera obovata
 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native plants and grasses for river bank from Rosanky TX
February 19, 2014 - Our property owners association would like to know what native plants/grasses to plant on the Blanco River bank in our river park to help prevent erosion. Some banks are steep and some areas are a gra...
view the full question and answer

Need grasses to stabilize a moderately steep slope in Pennsylvania
May 17, 2010 - Hello. We have a moderately steep slope in a shady area that is in need of some help. The grass that is in place there seems to be thriving - nice and green, with good growth. However, kids running...
view the full question and answer

Native grass lawn for San Antonio
June 25, 2011 - Dear Mr Smartyplants, I live outside of San Antonio and my question is in regards to putting in a native grass lawn. What type of soil should I put down? I've sprayed herbicide and was planning on ...
view the full question and answer

Phytoremediation using Paspalum vaginatum
February 06, 2015 - Do you know of any on-going research using Paspalum vaginatum as the prime plant (monoculture) for use in phytoremediation. Utilizing this plant in Vegetated Swales, Spreader Swales, Grassy Swales,...
view the full question and answer

Native xeric grasses for Colorado
June 24, 2010 - Tired of mowing - replacing western exposure full sun lawn with native xeric grass. Please explain the pros and cons of Bouteloua Gracilis (Blue Grama) and Bouteloua Dactyloides Bella (Bella Blue Gra...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center