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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.

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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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Friday - June 03, 2011

From: Winnsboro, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native Grasses for Winnsboro, Texas
Answered by: Stephen Scace and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What would be a good grass to plant in East Texas near Winnsboro? My soil is sandy.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants loves short questions, as they tempt him to indulge his expansive conceptualization of native plants. He will, however, try to restrain himself by means of some carefully crafted interpretations. He considers "good grass" in this instance to mean "native species" and further, infers an open-minded willingness to consider taller species and not just the turf grasses. This tolerance of mind is important, because the leading native Texas turf-grass species, Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss), lacks tolerance for sandy soils. Nevertheless, the other two species in our native turfgrass mix, Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama) and Hilaria belangeri var. belangeri (Curly-mesquite), will grow in sandy soils but may not form as thick a turf as the Buffalograss mix.

Winnsboro lies at the north end of the Post Oak Savannah, part of the great North American tall-grass prairie, whose dominant species include Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem)Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass) and Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)–lovely grasses all. They are also tall. Indeed, all but the Little bluestem grow three to six feet tall. If such a prairie's historical richness and ecological appropriateness fails to ignite your passion sufficiently to put up with what admittedly may resemble a jungle, Mr. Smarty Plants understands.

More moderately sized grasses native to the prairie include Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)–the state grass of Texas–and Poa arachnifera (Texas bluegrass). You can find more grasses for your area of North Central Texas in the Post Oak Savannah list on our Recommended Species page.  Use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH feature in the sidebar to limit the list to grasses by choosing "Grass/grass-like" from the GENERAL APPEARANCE option.

 

 

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