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

Las Vegas lawn grass for Dallas
February 13, 2009 - Dear Smarty Plants, Every time we go to Las Vegas I admire the beautiful grass in the lawns of most of the strip casinos. It looks like a fescue but it is just as beautiful on the hottest summer day...
view the full question and answer

killing grass on 1 acre before planting Habiturf
March 04, 2012 - I have an acre of full sun lawn on a slight slope in Dallas - would the habiturf be appropriate & if so, how do I go about killing off the existing weeds/crab grass before installing? Removing 3 in o...
view the full question and answer

Buffalograss as lawn replacement in Austin, TX
March 12, 2007 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I have just moved into a house that has a yard full of weeds. I was planning on killing the existing ground cover and starting buffalo grass, when I came upon several articles on...
view the full question and answer

Preventing armadillos from digging up lawn for grubs
September 29, 2006 - Over the past 4 months we have endured an armadillo digging up our lawn. We are now seeking a humane method to discourage the armadillo from digging up the grubs in our lawn. Do you have any suggest...
view the full question and answer

Clover for possible lawn area in The Woodlands, TX
October 01, 2008 - I have two areas in my large lawn that grass refuses to grow. I am thinking of seeding with clover which old lawns used to always have. Which clover will grow in this area? Where do I find seeds an...
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