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

Ground cover to control hillside erosion in Illinois
May 04, 2014 - I have seen some other questions regarding native plants for erosion control, but I am looking specifically for plants that will do well on a hill in partial to full shade. I am told the soil in our a...
view the full question and answer

Plants to stabilize a steep bank in South Carolina
January 09, 2010 - I would like to use native plantings to stabilize a steep bank. The bank is on the side of the gravel road I cut back into the woods and around a 36" pipe going under the road to allow the free flow ...
view the full question and answer

What is a lawn broom from Cibolo TX
February 15, 2013 - Concerning gulf muhly grass you mention using a lawn broom to get rid of the dead stalks. What is a lawn broom? What does it look like? Where can I purchase one?
view the full question and answer

Reconsideration of previous question from Hays County TX
February 21, 2014 - QUESTION: Please reconsider this question that I sent to you last week. Our home address is in Bastrop County, but the Blanco River property that we own is in Hays County near Wimberley. Our proper...
view the full question and answer

Plants to stabilize sandy slope in Massachusetts
September 23, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smartypants, I am working on a small public housing project in Chelmsford, MA, northwest of Boston. We have a steep, sunny and SANDY slope and I am stumped as to what to recommend that wi...
view the full question and answer

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