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
1 rating

Thursday - December 02, 2010

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Native grass for Austin to sow in the early spring
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Stephen Scace

QUESTION:

What is the best native grass seed to plant in the Austin area? What is the best time of year to plant? I'll be planting in an area that has no real established grass.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is assuming that you want a lawn so we'll give our recommendations on turf grass first.

If your area is sunny (at least 6 hours per day) with caliche, clay or loam (not sand), then we would highly recommend the mixture of Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss), Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) and Hilaria belangeri (curly-mesquite).  This is the mixture that the Wildflower Center research has shown to work best for native lawns for grass density and for keeping out weeds.  You can find seeds for sale at Native American Seed in Junction, Texas.  You might want to consider their Thunder Turf mix which includes these three native sun turf grasses.  Native American Seed has another mix, Native Sun Turfgrass, that includes just the buffalograss and the blue grama.  You can also buy each of these grasses separately.  I recommend that you read our How to Article, Native Lawns: Multi-species, that has specific instructions for establishing your native lawn with specifics on watering, mowing and feeding it.  You might also want to read Native American Seed's article, Planting Tips for Native Grasses, for more information on preparing the site and caring for your new native lawn. Sow these grasses in the early spring.

If your lawn is not sunny, there is really only one native grass that thrives in the shade, Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats). It is not a turfgrass; it grows two to four feet tall and doesn't respond well to mowing. It is lovely and holds the soil well. It is perennial, but it dies back to the ground each year. There are other possibilities for turf-like lawn in the shade—the sedges, which are very grass-like and grow well in the shade.  Here are a few:

Carex planostachys (cedar sedge) - about 6 inches, low water use, part shade

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) - 10 to 12 inches, medium water use, sun or part shade

Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge) - 12 to 18 inches, medium water use, part shade

If you aren't looking for a turf lawn but just want native grasses, here are some recommendations.  Most of these will grow in sun and part shade:

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) - State Grass of Texas, medium water use, sun or part shade 

 Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass) - medium water use, sun, part shade or shade

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) - low water use, sun or part shade

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass) - medium water use, sun or part shade

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem) - low to medium water use, sun or part shade

All of the grasses listed above are warm season grasses and should be planted in the early spring.   Seeds for sedges are not readily available so you would need to check with local nurseries for the availability of plants.  You can find nurseries in the Austin area that specialize in native plants in our National Suppliers Directory.


Bouteloua dactyloides


Bouteloua gracilis


Hilaria belangeri


Chasmanthium latifolium


Carex planostachys


Carex texensis


Carex cherokeensis


Bouteloua curtipendula


Sorghastrum nutans


Schizachyrium scoparium


Panicum virgatum


Andropogon gerardii

 

 

 

  

 

More Propagation Questions

Long term storam of Lupinus arboreus seeds
July 21, 2007 - Hi - I was wondering what the best way to store lupine seeds (for long-term storage and maximum viability) is? I am a graduate student at Berkeley studying Lupinus arboreus. We have been storing seeds...
view the full question and answer

Should I remove the flowering stalk from my Dasylirion leioiphyllum?
March 23, 2009 - We transplanted a plant that is new to us but going through your photos on your website, it appears that we have a Dasylirion Leiophy. My question is this.. Are we supposed to cut the 6' stem that f...
view the full question and answer

Junipers for restoring area in Bulverde TX
November 03, 2012 - Are ashe or virginiana junipers for sale around the hill country? I would like to recreate the natural plant life that was bulldozed next to my home. Do you recommend any other types of juniper that ...
view the full question and answer

Dividing obedient plant in New Waterford OH
September 19, 2009 - I live in northeast Ohio, and have an obedient plant, which has spread, (a little) since last year when I bought it. I really do like the plant, and wanted to put it in several more areas in the garde...
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of one of two Texas persimmons from Wimberly TX
May 04, 2013 - Last year my son planted two texas persimmon trees. One is blooming ok this year and the other is not. It does not seem dead. What can I do or is is in fact dying?
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