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Thursday - December 16, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Tolerance to foot traffic for native turf grass
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I have read your articles on your mix of three native seeds for turf grass and on other native grasses but am left with a couple of lingering questions. We have about a 600 sq. ft area we want to plant with turf grass out back for the kids to play on. There is no grass at present. This area is shaded about half the day and in fill sun the rest. Does the mix of three grasses you recommend stand up to heavy foot traffic? Would it work here with our shade-sun combo? Thanks.


Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss), the main component of the three-seed-mix of turf grasses, according to our How to Article, Native Lawns: Buffalograss, is "extremely hardy, and can tolerate moderate foot traffic".  The other two components,  Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama) and Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass), should be similar.  'Moderate' foot traffic is, of course, open to interpretation; but on the durability aspect, I think I would give it a try for your lawn.  You would need to keep foot traffic to a very minimum, however, until the grass is well-established.  The sun issue, though, may be a problem.  All three grasses do require lots of sunlight.  If your lawn doesn't get at least 6 hours of sun per day, they will probably not do well.  You could use the turf grass mixture in areas of your lawn that do get abundant sunshine and use alternative groundcover for the shadier areas.  Here are some possibilities for shade-tolerant groundcovers:

Carex planostachys (Cedar sedge)

Carex texensis (Texas sedge)

Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy)

Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit)

Packera obovata (Golden groundsel)

You may have already read them; but if not, you probably would find the following articles helpful:

Native Lawns:  Multi-species

Native Lawns

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua gracilis

Hilaria belangeri

Carex planostachys

Carex texensis

Calyptocarpus vialis

Phyla nodiflora

Packera obovata




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