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?


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
1 rating

Saturday - June 25, 2011

From: Castroville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grass lawn for San Antonio
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Dear Mr Smartyplants, I live outside of San Antonio and my question is in regards to putting in a native grass lawn. What type of soil should I put down? I've sprayed herbicide and was planning on putting approximately 6 inches of screened top soil but was concerned that this poor soil would not support the grass well and I would be forever applying compost or other nutrients to keep the grass healthy. Thank you.


Native turfgrass lawns require minimum or no fertilizer, minimum water and minimum mowing.  Please read our article, Native Lawns.  Please also check our How to Articles—Native Lawns:  Multi-species and Native Lawns:  Buffalograss.  These articles give you information about how to prepare your soil and how to plant and maintain a native turfgrass lawn.   The main thing you need to know about these turf grasses—Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss), Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama) and Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass) is that they won't do well unless your site has at least 6 hours of sunshine per day.   If you have a shady lawn, then you need to think about some other type of lawn.  You can read the answer to a recent question Mr. Smarty Plants received asking about native grass for a shady lawn.  Additionally, although their seeds should still germinate and grow, it is going to require a reasonable amount of water until they are well-established.  Once they are established, however, these grasses will require little or no fertilizer, little water and infrequent mowing.  Native American Seed in Junction has turfgrass seed mixes—Thunder Turf with buffalograss, blue grama, and curly mesquite and Native Sun Turfgrass with ony buffalograss and blue grama.  They also sell the grass seeds of each species individually and they have some excellent advice on their Planting Tips, Resources and More page.


From the Image Gallery

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua dactyloides

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native Indiangrass as a hedge
December 13, 2009 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants, I would like to create a grass hedge as a foundation planting for a portion of our garden. One side of the planting is a concrete sidewalk to our garden shed, the other side wil...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping recommendations for site in Dubuque, IA
March 27, 2010 - I need a seed recommendation. Here are the variables: Location: Dubuque, IA (east Central Iowa) Soil type: Sandy to sandy and gravelly. Part is a riverbank facing east. Steep bank then flat to ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for burned acreage in Bastrop, Texas
October 31, 2011 - The fire took 2/3 of the trees on my half acre in Bastrop County. It was mostly wild. What do I plant for ground cover? Do I plant native grass seed in fall? I want to keep it native as possible. ...
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

Ornamental bunch grasses to grow under live oak
June 25, 2007 - I love live oak trees and have one in the back yard that is growing nicely. I don't know if it's the shade or the leaf and acorn droppings that won't allow the grass to grow underneath it. Around...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center