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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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Wednesday - May 11, 2011

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Comparison of native turf with St. Augustine and Kentucky bluegrass
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Mark Simmons

QUESTION:

The native turf page mentions outperforming Bermuda grass, St. Augustine, and Kentucky blue, but the graphs only compare the natives to Bermudagrass. How do the native mixes stand up to St. Augustine and Kentucky Blue, especially St. Augustine since that's common around Houston.

ANSWER:

You are correct that the Native Lawns study didn't do comparisons with St. Augustine and Kentucky bluegrass.  This is because it has already been established that they do not resist drought as well as buffalograss and Bermudagrass.  You can see comparisons that include St. Augustine and zoysia grass in a study, Non-irrigated Turfgrass Study, by J. A. McAfee and Ron Leps for the Williamson County Extension Service. 

Another factor that affects the success of turf grass is the amount of sunlight.  The native lawns study was a full sun study so we cannot draw conclusions about shade conditions from that study.  It is known, however, that the turf grasses of the study, especially Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss), don't fare as well in shade as St. Augustine.  Additionally, buffalograss doesn't grow well in sand, a common soil type in the Houston area.

We can conclude that buffalograss and/or the multi-species native turf that includes buffalograss does very well in the sun with little irrigation once it has been established.  Please read Native Lawns:  Buffalograss and Native Lawns: Multi-species for more information.

You can read the answer to a recent question to find native grass substitutes for shady sites in the Houston area.

 

 

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