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

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

Flowers for an August wedding in Driftwood TX
March 25, 2012 - For an August 4th wedding in Driftwood, Texas we want fragrant flowers and wildflowers that we can grow in our garden. We have four raised beds (12 ft. x 6 ft.) in a fenced area in which we've grown ...
view the full question and answer

Growing Texas star hibiscus in Central Texas
August 11, 2014 - Hi there, I purchased a beautiful Texas Star Hibiscus that I want to plant in my yard. Unfortunately, my yard being in Travis Heights, I hit a lot of caliche when digging. To plant some other nativ...
view the full question and answer

Plants native to Galveston that would survive in Austin
December 01, 2008 - What plants are native to the Galveston, Texas region? Can any of those plants survive in the Austin area?
view the full question and answer

Shade tolerant low shrub for Houston
September 28, 2013 - Please suggest a shade loving shrub that doesn't get more than 3' tall for a foundation planting along a front porch in Houston, TX. I prefer native, drought resistant if possible. No nursery person...
view the full question and answer

Survival of native yaupon in The Woodlands, TX after hurricane
September 25, 2008 - One of my large native yaupons trees (8ft) fell away from a group during the hurricane. I have uprighted and tied it off for stability. Now the leaves are all brown and falling. Is the tree dead or...
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