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

Thursday - October 14, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Grasses for Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

For Southwest Austin in October, what is the best grass to to plant at this time of year? Three quarters of the property is in Bermuda but the back quarter-acre is weeds. We are having it excavated and want to plant grass. What do you suggest?

ANSWER:

We have two How-To Articles that directly address your questions, including time to plant (Spring, which is when the seeds will germinate) and preparation of the soil. The first is Native Lawns: Buffalograss and the second Native Lawns: Multi-species. These articles result from years of experience and research by the Wildflower Center and are the best recommendations for the Austin area.

However, (isn't there always a "however"?), these are all sun grasses, needing 6 or more hours of sun a day to thrive. There are many attractive native grasses suitable for shade or part shade in a landscape, but these are mostly clumping grasses, not lawn grasses which can be mowed down into a lawn, and certainly not tolerant of foot traffic. The bermudagrass you already have is non-native, invasive and one of the worst weeds in the South. St. Augustine, which can tolerate some shade as the bermudagrass cannot, is also a non-native which requires a great deal of water and fertilizer in order to survive. If you are interested in a more natural area, not a lawn area, on your property, we suggest you read our How-To Article Meadow Gardening. With this, you can combine taller grasses and wildflowers, for a casual nature-friendly area. We will list for you some of our favorite plants for meadows. You can follow the plant links of each to learn the light, moisture and soil needs for that plant, as well as its projected size.

First, go to Recommended Species, and click on Central Texas on the map. You will be presented with a list of the native plants recommended for this area. Using the sidebar menu on the right-hand side of the page, select first on "herbs" (herbaceous blooming plants). Then, going down the sidebar, select how much sunlight you have in a chosen area, how moist or dry your soil is, and "duration." On "duration" you can either leave it for all durations, or choose "perennial" for plants that will come back every year, and "annual" for plants that will self-seed. Many wildflowers are annuals, and when they have finished blooming and died back, there is room for other plants to fill the spaces. Click on Narrow Your Search; going down the resultant list of plants you can choose any one you are interested in and click on the plant link. This takes you to the page on that particular plant, which will give you information on height, whether it is evergreen, bloom time and color, and usually growing conditions and/or progation instructions. You will repeat this process for "grasses and grass-like plants." We are going to use this process to choose some suggested herbaceous plants and grasses for your area; we did not select on soil moisture, duration or sun exposure, and got 65 results for the herbaceous blooming plants and 17 for the grasses. The more qualifications you put in, the fewer selections you will get.

Herbaceous blooming plants for Austin:

Amblyolepis setigera (Huisache daisy)

Asclepias viridiflora (Green milkweed)

Chamaecrista fasciculata var. fasciculata (Partridge pea)

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)

Grasses or Grass-like Plants for Austin:

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Lindheimer's muhly)

Nolina texana (Texas sacahuista)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem) 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Amblyolepis setigera


Asclepias viridiflora


Chamaecrista fasciculata var. fasciculata


Echinacea purpurea


Muhlenbergia lindheimeri


Nolina texana


Schizachyrium scoparium


Chasmanthium latifolium

 


 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Non-native ligustrum in non-native fescue in Medina TX
May 22, 2013 - Is there an effective way to kill baby ligustrums coming up in my fescue yard without harming the grass?
view the full question and answer

Native landscaping plants for Sherman, Texas
December 19, 2007 - We are starting from scratch on landscaping our new yard. We live in Sherman, TX and I would like to use plants and flowers that are native to Texas and have a good chance of surviving. What are you...
view the full question and answer

Photos of Muhlenbergia rigida (purple muhly)
August 31, 2011 - I have some potential images of Muhlenbergia rigida / Purple Muhley, I would like to share. (at the suggestion of a fellow blogger). Let me know if that plant is needed - thanks!
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for traffic area in Austin
February 11, 2009 - What time of the year is best to plant grass seed in Central Texas? My lawn is in bad shape due to the drought and my dogs. I am considering replanting with tall fescue, do you have any comments or ...
view the full question and answer

Removing Texas cedar Juniperus ashei from Blanco River banks
February 26, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, Should cedar trees be removed from our Blanco River banks to prevent them from sucking too much of our precious water before it makes it into the river system? If so, what s...
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