En Español

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
Not Yet Rated

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

QUESTION:

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.

ANSWER:

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

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Container plants for Yakima WA
May 11, 2013 - My condo complex has purchased large, pottery pots for around our pool. I need to choose low maintenance plants. hopefully something that takes limited water, etc.
view the full question and answer

Planting turf grass in PA
October 23, 2010 - Is it too late to plant new grass in mid October in Pittsburg? Should I wait until Spring at this point?
view the full question and answer

Plants for a property near a conservation area in MD
July 18, 2011 - Can you tell me what native plants and the type of landscaping that would be good to plant in front of a forest conservation area that is on a steep hill behind our future house? It is located in Manc...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a steep bank in Virginia
June 23, 2009 - I have a small yard with a 3 foot steep bank that I want to plant on. I am looking for fast growing ground cover. There is some shade but not a lot and has a southern exposure. Ground is a bit roug...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Habiturf in Austin
May 10, 2014 - I have been trying to establish a Habiturf lawn in my back yard. It is approximately a 1,000 square foot area and this last seeding was the third over about one and a half years. I just recently over ...
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 | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center