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?

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
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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - June 23, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Turf
Title: Mowing the multi-species buffalo grass lawn
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I am planning on putting in a buffalo grass lawn in an area that is little used. I read that a mix of buffalo, blue grama, and curly mesquite is good for better cover but I am concerned about the blue grama growing to a foot tall. A primary reason for the buffalo turf is so little mowing is required to keep a short lawn. Should I eliminate the blue grama in the mix or would the lawn do better with it but just mow a bit more?

ANSWER:

That's a great plan!

The multi-species buffalo grass mix lawn is one of the Wildflower Center's favored lawn approaches.  There has been quite a bit of funded research aimed at this and this article summarizes both the findings of that research and our recommendations for lawn care.  The short version of the result is: "We have found that a mix of Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss), Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) and Hilaria belangeri (curly-mesquite) needs less mowing, watering and weeding and simulates nature's shortgrass prairies. Although different species, these grasses have almost identically shaped leaves and color and produce a great-looking, even-textured, dense lawn".

You don't have to worry too much about the fact that the Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama) can reach a foot, that's just it's flower spike. It will survive well at the shorter lengths of the other two.  Of course, it depends a bit on what you call "a short lawn".  The recommendation in the article is "a 3-4" high cut for a great-looking, dense turf, resistant to foot traffic (within reason) and weeds. Mow once every 3-5 weeks".  I (personally) am happy to let it go even higher, conserve some water and have to mow even less in these temperatures! 

 

From the Image Gallery


Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

More Turf Questions

Roots of live oak in lawn from Round Rock TX
June 24, 2011 - I live on a cul-de-sac and have a small triangle shape yard. There is a large live oak in the middle of the yard. I am concerned because large bark covered roots have emerged on two sides of the tre...
view the full question and answer

Replacing lawn in Taylor, Texas
May 28, 2009 - I live in Taylor, Texas, just northeast of Austin, in the Blackland Prairie region. However, I do not live on a farm, but in town on a city lot of 1/3 acre. My soil is clayey, and currently I have a L...
view the full question and answer

Is it OK to recycle my kids bathwater out to the lawn?
July 23, 2009 - Is it OK for me to "recycle" my kids bathwater out to the lawn or houseplants? We use normal everyday brand kids soap. Thanks Mr. Smarty Plants
view the full question and answer

Do I need to cover my Habiturf planting with straw?
March 02, 2012 - I'm preparing to seed the Habiturf in my front yard in a couple of weeks. My dad has suggested I spread some straw to help protect the seeds. Your thoughts? Thanks!!!
view the full question and answer

Did my neighbor's zucchini affect my apple tree from Oak Lawn, IL
October 26, 2009 - My neighbor planted zucchini plants near a flowering non-fruit producing apple tree in my yard. Soon afterwards in July the tree began to shed leaves. Could the zucchini plant have caused this?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center