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

Low-growing lawn substitute for Pennsylvania
March 19, 2008 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants Please help. We are moving to an old farm house in Western Pennsylvania with several acres of lawn. Our plan is to return much of the land to wildlife friendly meadows and woo...
view the full question and answer

Removal of Western yarrow invading lawn
July 23, 2006 - We have western yarrow in our yard and it is starting to take over and kill the grass. How do we get rid of it?
view the full question and answer

Problem with Habiturf. Is it dormant or dead?
July 24, 2013 - We planted habiturf in spring 2012. It's beautiful. But since last summer, we have had one area that seems to go dormant much more rapidly than the rest, even though it receives the same amount of ...
view the full question and answer

Lawn Grass for North Georgia
February 19, 2009 - I would like to know which type of grass would be best to plant in my yard? I have two dogs so there is a lot of traffic. The yard is on a slope so some of it stays dry while the rest is almost always...
view the full question and answer

Mixing of bluebonnets and buffalograss in a lawn
April 22, 2007 - I have moved into a house with a yard full of weeds. I would like to plant Buffalograss but understand Buffalograss is sparce and difficult to keep the weeds out. So, I was considering mixing it wit...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center