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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.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - April 20, 2006

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Turf
Title: Native replacements for non-native St. Augustine lawn
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi. We would like to reseed our lawn. It is currently St. Augustine. What would you suggest for a low maintanence, drought tolerant grass or ground cover. We would prefer to have something that does well in both shade and sun and can withstand some impact.

ANSWER:

If your lawn were entirely sunny, then far and away the best choice would be buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides). It is drought tolerant and requires mowing only a few times a year. I suggest you read Native Lawns in the Native Plant Library for a discussion about how to create and manage a buffalo grass lawn. Unfortunately, buffalo grass doesn't do well in the shade; however, you might consider growing it in the sunny part of your lawn and something else in the shade. One possibility is to plant native sedges in the shady areas. In Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape John Greenlee describes several sedges that do well in lawns. Meadow sage or Texas Hill Country sedge (Carex perdentata) is one of these that is native to Travis County. Alternative possibilities for your shaded areas are these two ground covers: Texas frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora) and Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia).

All of the above should be commercially available. You can search for sources of native plants in the National Suppliers Directory. The Austin Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas also offers a list of native plant sources.
 

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