En Español

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - June 16, 2011

From: New York, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: drought-resistant turf grasses for New York City
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Hi - I work at the Smithsonian in New York City and we have a very large lawn that is frequently used in the summer for programming. It gets very beat up. I read an article in teh New York Times about your research on drought-resistant native grass research - can you recommend a blend for the Northeast that I could suggest our gardener try? I'm also our sustainability manager, so I'd love to suggest something that would not only solve a big problem for us but also be kind to the environment. Many thanks!

ANSWER:

Drought-testing mixtures of native grasses is a time-consuming process, and even the one project dealing with grasses of the Southwest is not yet completed at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center.  Mr. Smarty Plants is unaware of a similar project for the New York City area.  Some of the fescues have been popular there since they require relatively little watering.  I find that some recent lawns used a mix of tall fescue and Poa pratensis (Kentucky bluegrass). Advice on choosing a turf grass for New York can be found at this web site.  In theory some of the newer cold-tolerant strains of bermuda grass or Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) might survive, but I have not seen evidence of that.

If your lawns are shady in places you might consider a sedge.  The species most suited for your area is Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)Carex texensis (Texas sedge) is also native to New York, but I have not seen examples of its use in your area.

 

From the Image Gallery


Pennsylvania sedge
Carex pensylvanica

Texas sedge
Carex texensis

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Controlling KR Bluestem
February 11, 2016 - How can I control KR Bluestem in my 55 acre coastal bermuda hayfield? The field has a Farm Road along one side planted in KR, and now the hayfield is about 25 - 30% KR. Summer burn is fairly dangerous...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a Zen garden in North Carolina
November 03, 2007 - I am looking for plants that would be suitable for a ZEN style garden in North Carolina
view the full question and answer

Planting wildflowers and ryegrass in RIverside AL
February 07, 2015 - Love the name, enjoyed a visit last spring. We repaired a retaining wall about 300 ft. and want to plant wildflowers on a strip 5 ft wide. Slope gentle to 1 in 3.5. Hauled in topsoil for fill. Can ...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses and turf grass for VA
February 08, 2012 - I recently moved to Blacksburg, Virginia. I am becoming involved with a church here that recently started a grounds committee. There is some discussion within the group of which varieties of native ...
view the full question and answer

Bermuda, not the only option in Memphis
November 04, 2014 - I'm building an energy efficient home in Memphis and want to extend that strategy to the landscaping. I'd like to plant native grasses, but this lot is surrounded by lots sodded with Bermuda grass....
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center