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
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

Erosion Solution for Lorton, VA
February 07, 2014 - We have a steep slope in our common area of our homeowners association. Trees that were planted have died. It is a large area around a pond. What should we plant that will hold the soil? The soil...
view the full question and answer

Phytoremediation using Paspalum vaginatum
February 06, 2015 - Do you know of any on-going research using Paspalum vaginatum as the prime plant (monoculture) for use in phytoremediation. Utilizing this plant in Vegetated Swales, Spreader Swales, Grassy Swales,...
view the full question and answer

Allowing Habiturf to seed out in Austin TX or Austin OR
November 21, 2013 - What does it mean to let habiturf "go to seed?" Do I need to wait for all the seeds to drop before that is true? Or, if I mow it when there are seed heads, will those seeds provide new plants in the...
view the full question and answer

Plantings for beneath a red oak in Lubbock TX
February 23, 2012 - What would you recommend to plant in a two tiered raised bed facing west, totally blocked from the east, thus receiving only the afternoon sun? A 21 year old red oak sits in the middle of the upper ra...
view the full question and answer

What to do about grass dying under pin oaks in Iowa
December 10, 2008 - We have 2 pin oaks about 15 years old in our front yard. The grass has started dying out under and around them. What can we do?
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center