Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Wednesday - December 15, 2010

From: Mount Pleasant , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Grass-planting time in Mt. Pleasant, TX
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We are new to Texas and just finished building a house. The builder wants to seed the grass now (December). Will it germinate or will we have to replant in spring?

ANSWER:

Did your builder tell you what kind of grass seeds he is going to sow?  I suspect it is not a native grass and is one of the non-native rye grasses (Lolium spp.)—cool season grasses ready to germinate and grow rapidly through the fall and winter. There are warm season grasses and cool season grasses. Warm season grasses germinate in the spring and, since they are heat and drought tolerant, are generally green throughout the spring and summer.  They  begin turning brown in the fall and remain so throughout the winter.  Cool season grasses germinate in the fall and are green and growing throughout the winter and spring, but die back in the heat of summer. We do NOT recommend rye grass—Lolium perenne (perennial rye grass) or Lolium perenne ssp. multiflorum (annual rye grass)—because it is invasive and responsible for massive reduction of native wildflowers along roadsides.  Additionally, it is allelopathic (kills or inhibits the growth of other plants) which gives it a competitive edge.  There are a few cool season grasses native to northeastern Texas but they are generally slower growing than the non-native rye grasses.  They will do the job, but they won't be the lush green crop produced by the non-native rye grass. 

If your builder wants to sow Secale cereale (cereal rye) rather than rye grass, this would be a good time to sow since it is a cool season grass.  Like rye grass, cereal rye is non-native, but it is not invasive.  It will grow and hold the soil and can be mowed before it sets seed or be ploughed under to add nutrients to the soil in the spring when it is time to plant the warm season native grasses.  It could be used as a onetime measure to hold the soil until the native grasses are established. Warm season grasses, once established, would hold the soil through the winter.  You can find seed at Native American Seed in Junction.

I assume you are ultimately looking for a suitable grass for a lawn.  We recommend Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) as a native turf grass for your lawn.  It is a warm season native grass and its seeds should be sown in early spring when the soil temperature has warmed a bit. It will work where there are at least 6 hours of sunlight per day and the soil isn't sandy.  Please read our How to Articles, Native Lawns:  Buffalograss and Native Lawns:  Multi-species for information on planting and maintaining a native lawn.

If your lawn area has some shady spaces, sedges can be used as an alternative groundcover.  Here are a couple that would work in your area:

Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge)

Carex blanda (Eastern woodland sedge)

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Bouteloua dactyloides


Bouteloua dactyloides


Carex cherokeensis


Carex blanda

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Planting Questions

Problem with Live Oaks in Mesa AZ
March 26, 2013 - I have two Evergreen Live Oaks in central Arizona. One is flourishing and getting new spring leaves from top to bottom. Its trunk is rough, has large grooves, and the spots where I've pruned look li...
view the full question and answer

killing grass on 1 acre before planting Habiturf
March 04, 2012 - I have an acre of full sun lawn on a slight slope in Dallas - would the habiturf be appropriate & if so, how do I go about killing off the existing weeds/crab grass before installing? Removing 3 in o...
view the full question and answer

A Native Tree for Ardmore PA
January 15, 2014 - I am looking to plant a native tree in my back yard. The yard is small and gets mostly afternoon sun. Thank you
view the full question and answer

Suggestions for flowerbed in Mesquite TX
June 17, 2011 - I live in Mesquite and am new to the area. I am trying to make the flowerbed in the front of my house look better. I've planted some yellow roses and red roses but would like some perennial that bloo...
view the full question and answer

Steep slope from Charlotte NC
May 03, 2012 - I live near Charlotte, NC and I have a very steep sloped area from the edge of our front yard down to the road. It's a huge eyesore mainly because it is red clay dirt and has nothing growing on it. W...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.